Design works. Tell me (and others) something
I don’t know.
“Smart companies prioritise design because design pays off…” says David Truog of Forrester. It’s easy for me to see this as obvious, it’s a space I’ve worked in all my career. However, what I do know is that the impact of good design still isn’t recognised by enough people and organisations.
To the point of David’s article, design helps you to differentiate yourself and to create better experiences for your customers. Better experiences create more loyalty amongst your customer base. I appreciate he’s talking about the concept of design rather than the application of it to anything specific, but for me it applies to specifics.
As you may expect, I’m talking about marketing content.
Too many organisations are still designing content for print first. The fact that 95%-100% of the consumption will be conducted online isn’t an issue, because it can be turned it into a PDF. This isn’t decision backed by strategy, just a mindset that is still highly pervasive.
Instead, we should be designing content with the more common experiences in mind (digital) and doing everything we can to improve them.
PDFs are useful, but they weren’t created with the way that people now consume content in mind. They were first created in 1993, at the same point the web started to enter everyday use – and a lot has changed since then. What hasn’t changed is the need to deliver linear content such as brochures, reports, presentations – the kind of content that has a beginning, middle and end – which PDF is well suited to.
We can both give and get more from content if we preserve the linear storytelling format, but update it to more modern delivery methods.
At Differentiated we’ve been doing this for a while now with our Digital Documents platform. By fully digitising that linear content we would normally have delivered via PDF, we can significantly improve the users’ experience, as well as enable our customers to know more about their own content.
- Make it responsive
Between April 2020 and April 2021, 50.47% of all active internet users in the UK used their mobile devices to browse the web. Instead of asking them to ‘pinch and zoom’, responsive content adapts to the device.
- Build in rich content
Digital content enables digital media, so embedding content like video as additional content to the document, or as video backgrounds creates a richer experience for the user.
- Revive content gates
The classic value exchange of data in return for a whitepaper is producing diminishing returns because too much content doesn’t live up to its promise. With digital documents you can gate any part of the document, so you can draw readers into more valuable content before you ask for their opt-in.
- Know what’s being read
With PDFs, you can understand how many times it has been downloaded, and that’s it. With digital content you can access page level analytics and determine what content is the most effective. You can connect to CRMs to start understanding paths through your documents or presentations for individuals.
- Internal and external
With digital documents, external content can be search optimised and start giving rank to more of your content. For internal content it can be password protected or delivered via single sign on.
In David’s article he states that “it’s still early in design’s rise”, which I’m not sure I wholly agree with. Design has been a significant part of organisations’ successes for as long as organisations have existed. What I do agree with is the idea that, still, only a few companies design experiences well which creates a huge opportunity for those that do.
Check out some of the digital documents we have created for customers:
Softcat Digital Documents: a series of different guides: https://softcat.digital-guides.co.uk/
FLUENT: an editorial approach to thought leadership: https://fluent.softcat.com/