Design is an essential part of all the content you produce, from your blog articles to your Facebook posts. It’s often also the most challenging, especially for those who aren’t designers and maybe unable to commission one.

Our story: AA Marketing is a marketing design studio ran by myself and my wife. Over the years we have written a lot of content and consider ourselves talented design Owls. However, this didn’t happen overnight. In the beginning, we had to be open and not afraid to say what we think of each other’s work, especially when delving into the expertise of the other. We have different skill sets; my wife is primarily a writer and myself the designer and web developer. On occasions, we will take an initial crack at the other’s forte (just to get things going) and make a start in the design on content projects, or the copy in a design project. We soon realised that for this approach to work, we would have to feedback on some of the questionable choices made. However hard it was for each other, it usually made for valuable (if ego-bruising) lessons. Here’s what we’ve learnt, pulling no punches:

Your taste in fonts is horrendous

Don’t let the hard work you put into creating your content go to waste. Choosing a font because it looks good over one one that reads well is the fastest way to do exactly that.

Select a font that works whether someone is viewing the content on a 31″ display or a smartphone. The best way to achieve this is to optimise your site for mobile. If this isn’t an option, try to ensure that the fonts you use are clear and readable on phones and tablets.

Top Tip: Choosing a typeface that matches the message you are trying to convey is equally as important as the message itself. Make sure your font choice is web-safe to avoid issues with fonts not showing in certain browsers.

Not another stock photo

Everyone utilises stock images, they’re great for the most part and certainly can serve a purpose. But wherever possible, especially your regular daily content, you should make an effort to avoid their use.

However, not every business can afford a professional photographer, if this is you, then take the time to check out the many photo taking and editing tutorials online. These will help to guide you through the image taking and editing process and will vastly improve the quality of the pictures you take.

If time is an issue (i.e., you don’t have a lot of it) try taking lots of photos in one session, selecting the best and then using them for your content over several months. The positive impact this has with your social media content will surely make the effort worthwhile. Good, relevant photos will change your social media game.

Would you Instagram filter your real life?

Good for sunsets, not your product. Instagram filters can be useful; they make bad photos look okay and can be good when you need to add light to a darker shot. And, of course editing the actual photos you’re going to post to Instagram. However, they aren’t suitable for editing any and all of your social media and marketing photos.

Many companies rely too much on filters for ‘editing’ their images. The reality, though, is that these filters only skew some colours and with your content, clarity is a crucial element, and all too often these filters provide the exact opposite.

Top Tip: Never use the provided stickers or effects like vignettes and overlays, these tend to make your images look amateurish and should be avoided at all costs.

Sure, there will be times when using a filter is best, but you should never rely on them. Using your original and unfiltered photos is always going to be considered best practice, only use filters sporadically as and when required.

The content on your website has more CTAs than actual content

Calls to action are essential, and there’s no denying that. The time invested in writing and designing the content is centred around the hope that it will get you nearer to your business goals. CTAs link those two elements together but remember it is the content that enticed your visitor to your blog or landing page—honesty is always the best policy. If content is what was promised, then content is what your user should get. Copy that is riddled with CTAs is only going to lose you visitors.

Top Tip: In general, your content should have a minimal number of calls-to-action. Ideally, it would only have one. The fewer calls to action you have on a page, the more likely your visitors are to click. Five buttons leading to different deals or content assets will only serve to scatter and confuse people.

Plus, a page full of buttons is never going to look great or appealing. Best practice is to keep CTAs consistent—a single colour, size and format—people tend to recognise them more easily then.

Your website design is hurting my eyes

Visitors are always the goal, and the aim of your content is for it to end up on someone’s screen, whether through social media channels or your website, it doesn’t matter as long as it gets seen. Of course, you will want to make the most of that opportunity, but avoid the overwhelming temptation to include too much information into the design.

Maximising content on a page rarely results in greater effectiveness. In most circumstances, the opposite is true. Sure, your business has several services to offer, and you want your visitors to know that. But listing each one and providing the specifics is overkill and will only ensure none of your CTAs gets clicked.

Less is always more, and with web design, this has never been more pertinent. Include only the essentials.

When I design websites for clients, I’ll usually ask them to prioritise 2 or 3 things they want the site to say or portray. The design process that follows focuses on that, rather than trying to say everything at once.

Most businesses offer several services, avoid including all of these on your home page, try a single generic call-to-action that will lead them elsewhere on your site. Try something simple like “Learn more about our services.” This will inevitably result in a better design and one that is more efficient at driving customers through your marketing funnel.

In conclusion, and my final top tip is to remember: white space is your best friend.

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