Image from the New York Public Library Collection. Click to enlarge.
I was privy to a board meeting for a small local not-for-profit some years ago. That board was debating their requirements when commissioning a new website for the organization. They had a limited budget.
During the debate, at which a prominent graphic designer and friend of a board member was present, they quickly concluded that a new logo for the organization and the site's graphic design was the most important factor to consider. "Yes Yes, the logo", I heard. And "Yes, yes, the design, the design is paramount," others said.
But is it? Should that really be the priority when budgets are tight?
If you are a small business and seeking to get more clients/customers, or a small not-for-profit seeking visibility and increased donations from your target demographic, you have to regularly and consistently increase traffic to your site.
And design does not do that for you. Content does that for you.
While you shouldn't go out of your way to make a website look bad, it doesn't take a lot to make it look "not bad." Your precious dollars should be focused on the site's information architecture, a good user experience, and great content that visitors will share with others via social media, and return to repeatedly. As I note in my book, if you want a website because you want to increase more business for your organization, you are in the publishing business now, whether you like it or not.
So, if you are working on a limited budget and you want not just a website, but a website that gets you results, don't ignore design, but don't put too much focus on it either. Focus instead on the how the site's information is organized (sometimes called its information architecture), how easy it is to use (the user experience) and, last but not least, really good content.
What do you think? Is content more important? Or design? Leave a comment.