In case you haven’t heard, content is king.
This was a thought that Bill Gates had way back in 1995 when the Internet as we know it today was very much in its infancy. This was before YouTube popularized video, before gifs were all the rage and even bfore images were fully optimized on the web.
In the near 20 years since Gates first made this declaration, the way we communicate on the web has changed drastically. The bombastic use of colours (or lack thereof in white-text-on-black-background websites) and moving images like the Netscape logo has changed to clean and clear sites that can reside on any number of devices with flawless transition.
And yet, today, long after websites evolved, content is still king.
Need proof? Consider Wikipedia.
Wikipedia has one of the most basic designs you will ever see. It doesn’t feature much in imagery, video isn’t part of the build and it doesn’t have a flashy (pardon the pun) new design by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, the build is so basic that it could easily have been the first-go product of a high school website programming class.
Despite this, Wikipedia has become one of the most surfed sites on the web. Globally, Wikipedia ranks 5th on the most viewed websites behind Google, YouTube, Facebook and Baidu. That puts it ahead of Amazon, Twitter, eBay, CNN and just about any other website you can think of.
What’s most remarkable is that Wikipedia has largely gone untouched. It’s look has only slightly altered from its original state – black and “link blue” – to become better at showing references as part of legitimizing the medium and an overall better navigation structure with internal linking and external linking (sourcing) being key cogs in article production; but the core – black text on white background – has remained the same. It has also fended off the rise of so many other information resources to stay at the top of its game while maintaining this simplicity
That’s not to say that the design works for everyone, and in fact some have taken a stab at redesigning Wikipedia. For example, wikiwand.com is a brightened alternative with a different design with large images and some side navigation; but the content is still the core even in this restructuring.
Why is that? Because content is king.
Wikipedia’s foundation has been built on providing trusted text, something that it battled in its early days. Content does, as it did from the very start, come from the general public (which can be inherently dangerous when you factor in pranksters or kneejerk information revision), but the structure of approval and revisions has allowed the website to maintain a level of expertise.
The structure of the articles – with large headlines, easy to navigate sections and hover referencing – is tremendously easy to use, while the majority of articles are brief synopses. Everything you need to know is right in front of you with extended information easily available.
The same theory can be applied to your website. Consider your pages like Wikipedia articles – provide the basic information in an easily navigable format, add a couple photos and links to additional information, and your website is now ready for the best public viewing possible. The design and SEO work will bring eyes to your page, but it’s the information that will keep them there and convert the surfer to customer.
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