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5 elements of great content design for online platforms

White wood desk with a screen and a device, both showing the time 15:25. There is a also a white keyboard.

Content design is a vital part of any online platform, whether it’s a: 

  • website
  • chatbot
  • social media account
  • mobile application. 

Users expect high-quality and engaging content that’s easy to consume and interact with. As such, effective content design is critical to ensuring that users have a positive experience with your platform and stay engaged.

Here are 5 key elements of effective content design for online platforms:

1.    User-centred design

User-centred design (UCD) is an essential aspect of effective content design. UCD is a design approach that places the user at the centre of the design process. 

It focusses on understanding the needs, preferences, and behaviours of users to create designs that are tailored to their specific needs. 

Basically, you shouldn’t be creating a digital product without thinking about UCD.

Identify your target audience

To apply UCD principles to content design, you should start by identifying your target audience. This includes understanding their: 

  • demographics
  • preferences
  • behaviours. 

Once you have a clear understanding of your target audience, you can create content that resonates with them and meets their needs.

Applying user-centred design

One way to apply UCD principles to content design is by conducting user research. This can involve: 

  • surveys
  • focus groups
  • user testing. 

User research can help you identify the: 

  • most effective content formats
  • language and tone that resonates with your audience
  • topics that are most relevant to them.

2.    Visual design

Visual design involves the use of images, graphics, and other visual elements to communicate information and enhance the user experience. 

Visual design can make content more engaging, easier to understand, and more memorable.

Designing visual elements

When designing visual elements for your platform, you should consider factors such as: 

  • colour
  • typography
  • layout. 

For example, you should choose colours that are visually appealing and consistent with your brand identity. You should also use typography that is easy-to-read and consistent across all content.

Design layout

In addition, you should consider the layout of your content. This includes the: 

  • placement of visual elements
  • use of white space
  • overall structure of the content. 

A well-designed layout can make it easier for users to scan and digest content, which can improve their overall experience.

3.    Accessibility

Accessibility is an often-overlooked aspect of effective content design. Accessibility refers to the design of content that is usable by people with disabilities. This includes individuals with visual, auditory, or cognitive impairments.

To make your content more accessible, you should consider: 

  • plain language
  • font size
  • colour contrast
  • audio descriptions. 

For example, you should use a font size that is large enough to be easily read by users with visual impairments. You should also use sufficient contrast between text and background colours to make it easier to read.

In addition, you need audio descriptions for videos and other visual content. This can help users with visual impairments understand the content and engage with it more effectively.

4.    Content strategy

Content strategy involves the planning, creation, and management of content. A well-defined content strategy can help ensure that your content is consistent, relevant, and meets the needs of your target audience.

To create an effective content strategy, you should start by defining your goals and objectives. This can include goals such as increasing engagement, driving traffic, or building brand awareness. 

Once you have a clear understanding of your goals, you can develop a content plan that aligns with those goals.

What to include in a content plan

Your content plan should include details such as the: 

  • types of content you’ll create
  • the topics you’ll cover
  • the frequency of content publication. 

You should also consider the channels you’ll use to distribute your content, such as social media or email marketing.

5.    User experience

User experience (UX) is the overall experience that a user has when interacting with your platform. 

Effective content design is critical to ensuring that the user experience is a positive one that keeps your user engaged and using your digital service.

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