Understanding the Meaning of Web Content

Woman searching on Google website using iPad tablet computer
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There is a saying in the web design industry that "Content is King or Queen." Any web designer working in the industry has undoubtedly heard this phrase, along with the simple truth that web content is the reason why people come to the web pages you develop. It is also the reason why those people would share that site (and the content it contains) with others via social media, links on other websites, or even just good old fashioned word of mouth. When it comes to a website's success, content really is king.

Importance of Quality Web Content

Despite the importance of quality website content, many web designers and web developers forget this in their rush to create the prettiest page or the most interesting architecture or the best interaction. When it comes right down to it, however, customers are not interested in whether your design has a 3-pixel or a 5-pixel border. They don't care that you've built it in Wordpress, ExpressionEngine, or on some other platform. Yes, they can appreciate a good user interface, not because it looks great, but because they expect the interactivity to work and not get in the way.

What your customers are coming to your web page for is the content. If your designs, site architectures, and interactivity are all wonderfully executed, but if the site does not offer usual, quality content, your visitors will leave the site and look for another that does offer the content they are seeking. At the end of the day, content is still king (or queen), and designers who forget that won't remain in business long.

There are, essentially, two types of Web content: text and media

Text as Web Content

Text is easy. It's the written content that's on the page, both inside images and in text blocks. The best textual web content is that text that has been written for the web, rather than simply copy-and-pasted from a print source. Textual web content will also have good internal links to help readers get more information and be able to dig deeper into that content should they so desire. Finally, web text will be written for a global audience as even local pages can be read by anyone around the world.

Website text content can be something as commonplace and straightforward as your company's "About Us" text or history. It could be information on your hours of operation or location and directions. Text content can also be pages that are regularly added to and updated, like a blog or press release pages, or information about upcoming events that you are promoting. These can all be text content, and each of them can also include Media Web Content as well.

Media Web Content

The other type of Web content is media. To put it simply, media or "multimedia" as it was often called in the past is any content that isn't text. It includes animation, images, sound, and video.

The best animations for websites are done in moderation. The exception to this rule would be if your website is to showcase a web cartoon or animated movies, but in those cases, you would likely be delivering the content as a video as opposed to actual web animation.

Images are the most common way to add multimedia to websites. You can use photos or even art you've created yourself using a graphics editor of some kind. Images on web pages should be optimized so that they download and load fast. They are a great way to add interest to your pages, and many designers use them to decorate every article they write.

Sound is embedded in a web page so that readers hear it when they enter the site or when they click a link to turn it on. Keep in mind that sound on Web pages can be controversial, especially if you turn it on automatically and don't provide a way to turn it off easily. In truth, adding sound to a website is more of a relic of past web design practices and not something you see done much today.

Video is incredibly popular on web pages. But it can be challenging to add a video so that it works reliably across different browsers. One of the easiest ways to do this is to upload the video to a service like YouTube or Vimeo and to then use the "embed" code from those sites to add it to your page. This will create an iFrame on your site with that video content embedded. It is the easiest and more reliable way to add a video to a webpage.