Why visual content design is more important than you think
Anyone working in marketing these days will agree that good design is one of the most important considerations when creating content.
If you want to stand out from the crowd, your content needs to be visual.
Whether you’re adding images, videos or infographics, there’s an array of tools out there to help you make your content more visually appealing.
But no tool in the world can replace the know-how and creativity of a designer. So I sat down with Nunziella Salluce, our in-house designer at Caspian Media, to find out why design is so important for content marketing.
Content design: Why it matters
(1) Why is design so important for content marketing?
For me, there are two main reasons. The first is down to human psychology: we tend to remember more when there are visual elements involved.
Studies have found that 65 per cent of people are visual learners. This isn’t surprising considering that the brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text. (Have a look at Why we’re more likely to remember content with images and video for more interesting stats on this.) So if you want people to remember your message, make sure it involves enough visual content.
The second reason is because visual imagery will help you reach your content marketing goals. Whether you’re trying to increase traffic to your website, encourage downloads of your e-book or want more email subscribers, each piece of content you create needs to have at least one content marketing goal.
Good content design means having the right visuals and colours aligned with the right text (in the right places), so your audience will focus on the parts you want them to focus on. This, in turn, will drive more clicks on your call-to-action button.
(2) What content design work do you do?
I create all digital content for Caspian Media to complement both our content marketing efforts and our clients’.
This includes different types of visual communication, such as e-books, e-guides, infographics, GIFs, videos, photographs, podcasts, landing pages, email newsletters and online ads. Have a look at How to succeed in Ad Ops to learn more about online advertising.
How to make sure your visual content stays on brand
(3) How do you ensure you stay on brand when designing visual content?
Before creating any kind of content design, make sure you read – and re-read – your company’s brand guidelines. If you have design guidelines, study those too.
I can’t stress this enough. Sticking to the same design style throughout all your content will help people remember your brand. I understand this can be tricky because, as a designer, you’d like to have creative freedom. The key is to find a good balance between the two, and to not see the guidelines as a limitation.
Pro tip: if you choose to include photographs in your content, always opt for a photographer because he or she will give you a more creative edge. If you don’t have a budget, use stock images (The Stocks has a good selection of free stock imagery), but don’t be tempted by cliché. Choose unique stock images to stand out.
When you promote a newly designed landing page:
(4) How do you decide what the design for a piece of content should look like?
I usually base my decision on two factors: the design brief and the audience the content design is aimed at.
It’s important to have an initial conversation with your client (or manager, if it’s an internal design job) to fully understand the brief. What are their content goals? What are their pain points? And most importantly, how can you solve their problems?
Furthermore, because you want to maximise audience engagement, you need to know who they are in order to provide them with the kind of visuals they like.
Try to get inside the mind of your audience as much as possible. Which age group are they? Which pop culture references will they understand? Which colours will catch their attention?
The content design process
(5) What design process do you go through when creating visual content?
The content design process is made up of the following three steps:
This initial stage is the most important because it sets the stage for the rest of the project. I make sure I completely understand the client’s company, background, goals and KPIs. I also spend quite some time researching their target audience and creating personas.
This stage consists of taking the information outlined in the first step and turning it into reality. I create an initial sketch of the content design (usually in pencil) and, upon receiving feedback, go on to develop the full design.
The last step consists of testing how the audience reacts to the design. This can include doing A/B tests and usually involves working with other team members, such as a digital marketing
(6) What’s the difference between working with an internal designer and a freelancer?
When creating visual design you can choose to work with either an internal design team or a freelancer. Both come with their own pros and cons. Whom you end up working with largely depends on your budget.
Having an internal designer working in your office is, in my opinion, more efficient. You can brainstorm together, they’ll know the business inside out, and it generally costs you less for the time spent.
A freelancer tends to be more expensive and won’t have as much knowledge about the company and audience as you do. However, they do bring fresh visual marketing ideas to a project and can be very helpful when you need to work to a tight deadline.
How to succeed in visual content marketing
(7) What tools do you use when you design visual content?
The main tools I use are Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Photoshop is great for editing images and creating small animations. Illustrator is useful when playing around with different fonts and creating nice illustrations.
There are lots of helpful free tutorials out there for visual content creators. They are usually fellow designers sharing their know-how of these tools, so make sure you take advantage of them.
Here are some great YouTube channels to get you started:
The Futur: the future of online education for creative entrepreneurs
Sketch Together: a channel dedicated to all things related to User Experience and User Interface design
(8) What advice would you give to someone struggling to come up with good content design?
Do your research, be curious, have an open mind and most importantly, love what you do. Look at what other designers are doing and don’t be afraid to learn from them.
The creative industry is a global community. Collaboration is everything.
If you’re keen to learn more, have a look at how we helped our client Gather raise its profile and generate leads with visual content design and content marketing.
(9) Is there anywhere I can learn more about visual design in content marketing?
Yes! We recently wrote a free, no-nonsense Content Marketing Guide, and dedicated an entire chapter on how to bring your content to life with visual design.
By Estelle Schnyder, Digital Marketing and Social Media Executive