Why Content Really is King
It's an overused expression, to be sure, but there is more than a grain of truth behind
it -- in fact, there are probably enough grains to bake a loaf of bread!
You and I -- everyone on the Web today -- have a unique opportunity that will never
repeat itself: to get in at the bottom.
Even though there are already tens of millions of sites out there, consider this: only
about 1% of the world's population is online! With projected avances in satellite and
terrestrial communications over the next few years, within 5 years you could find 30 times
the number of people online... NOW is your chance to build up a regular
"following" for your site, while the field is still relatively empty.
If you want to make your site a success, you need to
focus on the long rather than the short term.
Content VS Presentation
In an ideal world, there shouldn't be a tradeoff between the content of your site and
the way you present that content. Since we have to make do with the imperfect world we
live in, it is vital you choose the right level in making this particular trade-off.
You can represent all existing sites on a quality diagram like the one below:-
Quality rises as you move up and to the right. The RED
triangle represents sites which focus on presentation: graphics, animation, Java and other
enhancements rule the roost. It is probably no coincidence that the RED
triangle also represents the types of site the average web design company will make for
you. Web designers love playing with expensive graphics packages and getting their hands
dirty with advanced scripts and programs.
The GREEN triangle
represents sites which focus on the content, i.e. the information presented on the site.
Your site should fall inside the GREEN
triangle if you want to succeed in the long term!
A site with very poor presentation but excellent content may not succeed,
but it is better to have a site with average presentation and excellent content than a
site with poor to average content but excellent presentation.
A presentation-rich, content-poor site is like nouvelle cuisine:
the food looks delicious, and tastes delicious, but by golly you're still going to be
hungry afterwards! Expensive, too... you're hardly going to dine on nouvelle cuisine every
day of the week.
You'll want to make your site into the equivalent of a staple food,
something that people eat every day...
Your pockets will never be THAT deep!
You cannot win a race based on presentation, for the simple reason that
some competitors have millions of dollars to throw at their designers to ensure that their
sites have the latest bells, whistles and buzzers. You can't hope to compete at
that sort of level for very long...
On the other hand, if your site is focused on a specific field or subject,
you have a much better chance to win a race based on content, or at least to come in with
the finalists. Why? Content comes from knowledge and experience; presentation comes from
artistic talent and money. If you have the knowledge, you should be able to produce a
content-rich site relatively cheaply...
The Web Designers' Hidden Agenda
Beware the web designer that tries to encourage you to fill your site with attractive
graphics and flashy animations. Designers love to design, it's in their blood... it's
really fun to dabble with all the latest graphics tools; what's more, designers produce
results that are far more "professional" than rank amateurs dabbling with
Windows Paint, a really satisfying feeling!
Designers will generally steer away from content, since it will require them much more
effort to produce than pretty pictures, and because the creative process itself feels much
Don't let them pull the wool over your eyes! Demand content... even if it means
shopping around for a less "artistic" designer.
Remember: You would not hire an artist to write a book... so make sure you use a web
designer who can produce content!
A final thought: the 95% "rule"
A simple rule of thumb for any site owner should be "Is my site better than 95% of
the competition?" If not, you should be working towards making your site better. If
your site really is better, then you can safely set about letting more people know about