Why You Should Add a Content Strategist to Your Design or Development Team

Why You Should Add a Content Strategist to Your Design or Development Team
Add a Content Strategist to Your Design or Development Team

While scheduling a follow-up meeting with a client, the freelance project manager (PM) asked the content strategy lead if the latter needed to be involved. After all, the PM said, “There’s not much in the way of content on this project. I’m thinking design and development can pretty much run with it on their own.”

It’s hard to blame the project manager for such logic, especially when you consider that many folks involved in online marketing think of content as text and maybe images, but not much else.

In reality, content refers to the entirety of the experience a prospect or existing customer has on a website and pertains to everything from text to images, navigation, paid media landing pages, design, graphics, customers, staff, uniforms, and more.

Think of it this way: any element that has the ability to impact the way a customer perceives a brand is content.

A few examples using well-known brands include:

  • Apple: logo (design)
  • Lexus: quality (branding)
  • Starbucks: barista (staff)

Given that content does indeed touch everything, it only makes sense for content strategy to play a vital role alongside design and development in helping to propel a business forward.

You might also like: 3 Simple Ways Your Agency Can Use Content Marketing to Build a Better Brand and Find New Clients

How content strategy can help your business

In the online marketing world, designers and developers are often seen as at odds with the content, ecommerce, and SEO folks. It’s as though you cannot have a clean, inviting site that converts well with intuitive navigation, well-thought-out, compelling content, and favourable positioning in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Nothing could be further from the truth, however. On any website, these elements can, will, and should work together in a cohesive fashion to yield success for all parties involved.

Think of it this way: any element that has the ability to impact the way a customer perceives a brand is content.

Content strategy has been called the glue that holds together the key elements of a brand. It ensures the internal stakeholders are (a) asking the right questions, (b) keen to get the right answers, and (c) creating the best possible experience for users online.

If you’re ready to put your best foot forward, adding a content strategist to your team would make it possible for design, development and all other areas of your business to work together seamlessly, keeping everyone’s eyes fixed on the path in front of them.

Add a Content Strategist to Your Design or Development Team: High Wire Act

Content helps set the course for brands you work with

One of the toughest parts of helping a business is gaining the needed clarity on exactly what the company stands for and means to customers — branding, if you will. Sadly, many businesses never work to define themselves in this way, leaving it up to the design and development team to create a visual façade of what the brand stands for. The results are never pretty.

Don’t follow this path.

With a content strategist as part of the team, you could pull everyone together, along with the internal stakeholders, and help the brand answer the following questions:

  • What does the brand mean to the internal team, individually and collectively?
  • What does the brand stand for, overall, in the marketplace?
  • What does the brand hope to accomplish?
  • Who is the ideal customer?
  • What are customers looking for from a brand such as yours?

Make certain to capture the ideas electronically, so they can be shared later with the team and ensure everyone is on the same page.

Then, as you go about the design and development process, use the answers to the questions above as a guide.

For example, let’s say the team agrees that the brand must be seen as easy to do business with, customer-centric, and with no frills.

Why not use that information to create a simple, clean site with minimalist navigation options? And for design, using large, bold images and lots of white space would be warranted. It also makes sense to have a method (e.g., phone number) for contacting the brand clearly visible at the top of the page.

Add a Content Strategist to Your Design or Development Team: Zero Gravity

The key is to ensure that no matter what steps each individual member of the team may work on, everyone caters to the principles outlined during the meeting. In this way, you’re keeping the customer first but allowing the team to easily stay on task with solid guidance.

You might also like: 6 Tips for Crafting Great Web Copy That Converts

Content defines what customers need from the brand 

The better a brand knows its customers, the better able it’s able to market to them. There’s no need for guesswork or wasting money hoping that what you’re doing works. That’s why being able to refer back to the questions answered during the meeting are a huge help for everyone (especially design and development) who can use the information to create an online store that meets the needs of the target audience.

Assuming you now have some idea of who the target customers are and what they desire from the brand, you can use this knowledge to your advantage, helping the brand exceed the needs of prospects and customers.

Maybe it’s detailed product descriptions, large 3D images, or “Buy Now” instead of “Shop Now” buttons. Give users a blow-me-away experience and they will reward the client with repeat business.

Even better, as the conversions go up, so does your standing in the eyes of your clients. 

The better the website’s you work on perform, the more significant your design and development work becomes.

What’s more, your customers are likely to crow about the experience of working with your team on social media.

It’s a great example of how design and development goes hand-in-hand with SEO, user experience and social media — all of which begins with the involvement of a content strategist.

Add a Content Strategist to Your Design or Development Team: Kutoa Website

Content helps you define success

Hopefully, during the initial brainstorming session, the internal team came up with some clear, definable goals. Maybe it’s to increase conversions by 10% over the next quarter, or lower the bounce rate on the site by 30% over the same period.

No matter what goal(s) they’ve established, don’t think design and development has to tackle them all at once. Think of it like being famished and attempting to eat a 10-pound hamburger: you still must eat it one bite at a time.

Content strategy is all about goals and your adherence to them. The better you are at sticking to the task(s) at hand, the more consistently you’ll find success.

For example, if lowering the bounce rates on the website’s blog pages was one such priority, the content strategist can sit down with the dev and design team members and fashion a solution.

The answer could be as simple as having development move the blog button from the bottom to the top of the page in the main navigation. Then, design and content could partner to create a visually appealing blog button in addition to a blog page that features compelling content.

Content strategy leads the way but won’t get in the way

One of the biggest misconceptions related to content strategy is that it’s not necessary for every business.

That’s a lie. It is needed.

Content strategists are the ultimate team players, acting aggressively to align disparate teams while never caring who or what area of the business gets the credit.

All that matters in the end is helping clients find success.  

The question isn’t, “Do I need content a strategist?” It’s, “How did I ever function without a content strategist as part of my team?”

Do you have a content strategist on your team? How do they work with your designers and developers?

You might also like: Paul Boag on Content Marketing & How to Start Your Blog

About the Author

Ronell Smith has spent more than 15 years helping businesses online, either as a writer, business strategist, or a new product ​branding ​consultant. As a digital content strategist, he takes pride in helping companies create online user experiences their customers will appreciate and love.

Grow your business with the Shopify Partner Program

Learn more