Designers and copywriters must work together to create corporate blogs that deliver great user experience. Unfortunately, they often work in separate silos and cancel out each other’s work. When design and copy compete for attention, users become confused. When users are confused, designs have less impact and content gets fewer reads. This results in one-time visitors and zero conversions.

Here are two business blogs where design and content work in harmony, complementing each other like a pair of loving spouses.

Myjive: Upgrading Tech

The Marriage of Content and Image on Corporate Blogs

The first thing you notice on Myjive is white space. Excellent! Web pages crammed with text and images overwhelm readers. Here, users are drawn to the post by virtue of an inventive post header image. The operative word is inventive — bland stock photography conveys boring, unoriginal content, and who wants to read that? For that reason, a lame stock image is worse than no image at all.

The Marriage of Content and Image on Corporate Blogs

The headshots of contributors in the headers are a fine example of less-is-more. The images beg to be clicked, bringing users deeper into the site. What would be gained by adding copy to these images? Nothing.

The Marriage of Content and Image on Corporate Blogs

Let’s take a quick detour to discuss the Myjive About Us page. It is also easy on the eye by virtue of generous white space, and uses an image of the office to convey the agency’s atmosphere. This approach is more vivid than text, and eliminates the need for lengthy copy that probably wouldn’t be read.

Featuring three clients instead of vomiting up a portfolio of 50 case studies is another shining example of less-is-more. When confronted with too many choices — Which of these 50 case studies should I click on? — users tend to freeze and do nothing.

Could this blog’s design and content be improved? I don’t think I’ve ever heard a blogger say his or her blog is perfect, so here are a few ideas:

  • Larger fonts for the post body text would make the text less dense and therefore more inviting.
  • Place the post title above the image and use title case. As things stand, the title may be overlooked or not immediately recognized as a title.
  • Design Roast readers: Any other suggestions?

Trent Walton: Work Life

The Marriage of Content and Image on Corporate Blogs

Most text-centric blogs have the same look and feel. Trent Walton demonstrates how intelligently violating best practices renders a blog more readable, engaging and memorable.

Again, notice this page’s generous white space. There are no sidebars, ads, subscription forms, categories, etc., etc., etc. to distract users from reading the post.

The Marriage of Content and Image on Corporate Blogs

To further enhance readability, the lead appears in a supersized font, followed by a larger than average, also highly readable, font. There’s really nowhere else to go on this page other than where Trent wants you to go — deeper into his post.

The imagery, spare though it is, has the same originality as Myjive’s and can only serve to make users more curious about what is being said on the page. Little design decisions, such as the unmistakable red text for hyperlinks, the perfectly readable line width and the super-simple top navigation, all contribute to making this blog one to which a user will want to return.

Can anything be done to improve this blog? I’m hard-pressed to think of anything significant, but here are a couple of minor tweaks:

The Marriage of Content and Image on Corporate Blogs

  • The right-pointing arrow on the right page margin is not intuitive. If the text “Newer Posts” appeared next to it, perhaps more users would follow the link.
  • This blog has an extremely intimate feel, which is wonderful for people who know the blogger. To help new visitors get acquainted, add a line or two about what the agency does.
  • Design Roast readers: Any other suggestions?

The operative phrase for great content-design marriages: Keep it simple.

On the content side, we fight complexity all the time, because clients are always tempted to say everything there is to say on each blog post. But curiosity and a desire to participate motivate users to read and comment. If content leaves something to the imagination, readers will fill in the blanks.

On the design side, there is a similar temptation to use multiple fonts, multiple colors,  animation, etc. Highly creative designers who strive to create highly usable blogs would do well to keep Leonardo da Vinci’s famous quote close by:

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Not only do simplicity of design and content convey sophistication, they improve page loading time and mobile device usability — two of the most important considerations for any business blog.

brad-shorr-headshotBrad Shorr is the B2B Marketing Director of Straight North, a digital marketing agency headquartered near Chicago. Brad writes frequently on content marketing and is a regular contributor to Forbes and Carol Roth.

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