Web designers have traditionally begun the design process by presenting a visually captivating desktop spread, into which content is added almost as an afterthought. However, throughout the sector and especially within digital sport, we’re witnessing a shift towards a superior, content-led approach.
At Sotic, working with asset-rich, content-heavy sports sites accessed by fans seeking accessible, relevant and engaging information, we have always believed that content is the real hero of the piece.
It is interesting and engaging content that drives audiences to sites and intuitive and performant UX that keeps them there. A site must be beautiful, but it must equally do its job as a commercial engine, a promotional tool and a source of information. Carefully considered and placed content is what allows this to happen. As such, here at Sotic we have deliberately designed our development workflows, to allow our client’s content to shine using what we call a ‘content-led approach.’
How does it work?
Our workflows begin with the client and follow a simple 5-step process:
1. We identify the key aims and priorities of all stakeholders.
2. We conduct research on the desired and current user demographic which forms a key consideration for any build strategy.
3. We then focus on analysing stats to decipher what the data is saying. How is the site performing? How do users engage with content on the site? What content is under-performing or over-indexing? Which channels do users interact with and how do they move between these channels?
4. We collaborate with our clients directly to produce a prototype of the site, considering how best to display vital content for maximum engagement.
5. Last but not least, we address commercial drivers and include key stakeholder components.
What About the Visuals?
Our high-profile sports clients require a site that genuinely reflects their brand values and represents the quality of their offering – this is where a superior visual design comes in.
We employ an atomic approach to visual design, starting with the core elements (colour palettes, fonts, buttons) and building from there. Visuals are created using a mood board and then following approval, a style guide is created.
This type of design approach allows us to deliver a more consistent style across the site and enables us to construct the visual design around the content, using the prototype, rather than shoe-horning content into inhibiting designs. Brand is key here. A website should be a live extension of your brand values and identity, and we work collaboratively with our clients to ensure that every page of their site reflects their core values.
What are the Benefits?
This cutting-edge process enables Sotic to create a visually cleaner, uncluttered and entirely UX led site, that delivers a more intuitive user journey; streamlines navigation and displays content in a way that drives users to react, interact and engage.
A content-led approach involves the entire team working symbiotically to define and bring to life the requirements of the client and their user groups. Thus, we manage to avoid design misinterpretations and delays further down the process as fuller designs are created after the prototyping and mood board approval.
In contrast, a visual-first approach sees designs inaccurately replicated due to functional limitations and differences in interpretation, and as such, the designs lose integrity and the client is disappointed when preferred design features are not replicated in the final product.
There is no lengthy visual creative process/design approval process delaying movement in the build. Prototyping is rapid. Decisions are made quickly and by everyone. This means that the entire process is much faster and more efficient, and the client can see real progress early on in the process.
We have learned that clients prefer to be able to interact with our designs, to experience the scalability, navigation and animation during the design phase, so that what you see at this stage is exactly replicated on the live site. Because we’ve ditched the static ‘Photoshop’ style design in favour of an ‘in browser’ approach, the designs reviewed are clickable and scalable. A client can experience interactions and UX in reality, rather than hypothetically.
Over the last 10 years websites have become so much more than a marker in the digital space, they have become the digital representation of an organisation’s commercial, social, brand and business strategy and, as a digital agency, we have had to change and develop our processes to ensure our sites meet those aims. Sotic believe a content-led approach allows us, in collaboration with our clients, to address this change in the digital space and offer a more exciting, more relevant product!