12 signs of good content design

You don’t know it’s there – it just happens

Good content design is seamless, frictionless and intuitive. At its best, you shouldn’t even realise it’s happening. 

“A user interface is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s not that good.”

— Martin LeBlanc.

Afterpay lets you make a purchase in 4 equal payments (or instalments), due every fortnight. The app clearly and visually shows the amount due, in how many days, and how much you have paid off. There’s no ambiguity as to what’s happening next. Everything is clear, simple and easy to digest. 

You don’t have to read something twice

The content makes sense at the first read. You can completely understand the intention, meaning and purpose of what you’re consuming. Content is written in plain language, and not full of jargon. 

Budget Direct writes their product disclosure statement (PDS) in plain English. This means that you don’t need a law degree to understand the type of protection you’re getting with their insurance policy. It also uses icons and images to aid in comprehension. 

“Questions about whether design is necessary or affordable are quite beside the point: design is inevitable. The alternative to good design is bad design, not no design at all.”

— Douglas Martin. 

You could find it

You found what you were looking for, quickly. You weren’t sent in endless loops (what we call user journeys) that led to nowhere. The information architecture was logical to you and made sense.  

Legal Aid’s homepage has clear navigation menu dropdowns for finding relevant information. Or, you can just type in your query and be on your way. Once you start typing, search-related content populates based on the text input.  

Another example of this is the predictive Google search bar, which pre-populates key search terms related to your search history. With predictive text, you don’t have to type in the full word, you can just type in the first few letters and Google will predict the rest. This can help you find what you need quickly in less keystrokes. 

The process was seamless

At each step, you knew what to do and what to do next.  

IP Australia provides an overview of how to apply for a trade mark. The communication is clear at each stage of the process. You’re contextually informed, so you always know what to do next.  

You can complete a task without friction

You’re time poor, and you go online to get things done. Whether it’s ordering food, purchasing clothes or finding information about your next holiday destination, the experience from beginning to end should be hassle free. 

Zero Co Australia, like many other order fulfilment suppliers, saves your recent purchases and order history within your account. This makes it easy to reorder products.  

Visual images, as well as clear product descriptions, help users quickly make decisions about what they’re ordering. The quick hover ‘reorder’ button allows users to add items to their cart without being disrupted by being forced to the ‘check out’ page. 

In a few clicks, users can log in to their account and reorder previously purchased products.  

You didn’t have to second-guess yourself

You’re not left wondering, what was the meaning? It was clear.  

Little Zebra Chocolates makes organic, keto chocolate that’s free from dairy, gluten, nuts, and preservatives. Key product terms (like ‘vegan’ or ‘organic’), target their intended consumer.

They also have a strong commitment to both cacao and ordinary sustainability and make that plain and clear on their wrapper.

Speaking of the wrapper: you know exactly what to do with it. The instructions are written in short, plain English, and there are short instructions explaining how it breaks down. It’s text only and uncluttered content.

You didn’t have to contact support

The information was as easy as pie – they spoke your language and met your needs. 

“If we want users to like our software, we should design it to behave like a likable person: respectful, generous, and helpful.”

— Alan Cooper. 

Stripe’s support topics provide step-by-step information that is easy to understand and use.  

A list of popular topics answer queries to save you time. However, if you can’t find what you’re looking for, they don’t hide the 24/7 ‘Contact support’ section.  

Hiding contact or support information can create a negative experience for a user. They may not be digitally confident or have trouble finding the required information. If a user has exhausted all possible options to find a solution, they need to be able to get in touch. 

You were left with the feeling of ‘that was easy’

Were you pleasantly surprised at how simple that form was to fill out, how easy it was to book tickets or register for an event? Or maybe, it was just super easy to use an app. That’s good content design. 

No typing, no searching, no extra steps, no worries! Wake up (or lie down), roll over, choose the duration of your meditation on Headspace and breathe easy, literally. The app is flexible, giving users choice to align with their preferences, needs and environment. It also provides closed captions and haptic assistance (vibrations) for accessibility. 

You felt included, not left out

Accessible content is inclusive and caters to all users. You didn’t feel excluded or pointedly left out. 

“When UX doesn’t consider ALL users, shouldn’t it be known as “SOME User Experience” or… SUX?”

— Billy Gregory.

Besides popular search filters based on user research, Booking.com considers the needs of its users with a ‘Property Accessibility’ filter. This filter displays by default in the left-hand filter options.

By considering all of your users and designing content inclusively, you can find ways to make your product or service accessible.

This is an example of digital content that promotes a physical accessibility service.

You wanted to engage

The offer of what you could contribute was valuable to you and encouraged you to engage with the content. 

After you visit the Australian War Memorial, the experience feedback survey warmly invites you to participate. To engage you, the survey uses inclusive language, gives you many opportunities and options to provide your feedback and expresses their keen interest to improve. They demonstrate how they will use the feedback to improve the overall experience.

A good feedback survey: 

  • solicits your participation by explaining the value your insights will provide 
  • lets you know what to expect 
  • explains how long your efforts will be required 
  • asks about your needs 
  • gives you all options to provide feedback 
  • provides progress on your completion  
  • ends with what next. 

It was the right amount of information, in the right format.

It was like someone had read your mind: the content met your need. It was task-based and presented the information in an easily digestible and coherent way. You never felt overwhelmed, even if the subject matter was complex or the software offer was new to you.  

At the end of your experience, you knew what your next steps were, and you could act on them with confidence. There was even additional support for you.  

The Fulfillment Lab provides a simple step-by-step process for how their fulfillment software works. For each step, the copy explains how the software will provide value to optimise your fulfillment process.  

By presenting information is this way, you understand the chronology and the requirements for each step as you work towards your providing delightful end-to-end customer experiences.  

The content was valuable

You learned something or armed yourself with useful resources. 

In 4 simple stats, you can understand why investing in content design is valuable. 

Those wanting to build their content design practice have supporting data and evidence to advocate for content design in their workplace. 

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