YES and NO!
First, let’s handle the “no” portion of the answer.
Should you treat your content different for web and print? NO.
The content for any communications piece should be treated as the most important first step. Let me give you an example.
Our print team (who is incredibly talented and awesomely inexpensive) rarely gets a project where the content hasn’t been flushed out a bit. People normally have the copy prepared in a rough draft for the poster, brochure, flyer or even an annual report. If not, they know they need to have the content before the design can begin because the design of the document really depends on the content. Right, that’s pretty straight forward.
But this seems to get forgotten on the web side. A lot of people will come in wanting a website but have absolutely no content prepared. They just know they need a website. Or they will have a couple of different copy pieces ready but the majority of the website isn’t ready – isn’t even close. In fact, they may have a site map all prepared. Like they know we need an “About” page, a “Program” page, a “Courses” page, a “Contact Us” page but don’t know what is really going to go on those pages. I don’t understand this. The web design shouldn’t move forward without the content just like the print side. But many times, the web team (who are also amazing talented and inexpensive) will build a site and a sub page that the client can fill in after the site is in production.
But then what happens? The content doesn’t fit the way it should. Or maybe they wrote everything in Word and stylized it there and now it can’t work that way on their website and they have to come back to the web team to get a special template for displaying the content. Frustrating themselves and web team because if the content had been done and viewed ahead of time, it could have been planned for and designed before being put on the page.
Should you treat content different for web and print? YES!
Do you read the same way as you do with a brochure as you do on a desktop screen? Nope. Do you read a poster the same way as you do on a mobile screen? Nope. What about hyperlinks, bold, H2, navigation, endless distractions from other open screens like Facebook, Twitter, email, etc…
Web writing is very different than print writing. You have to take into account the interactivity of web, our mindset when we are viewing communication on the web vs. print, how the search engines read vs. how a person reads because if you aren’t keeping the search engines in mind no one is going to find your content anyway (that’s search engine optimization or SEO).
What I’m saying can be summed up pretty easy – CONTENT is EVERYTHING. And it needs to be thought through first before building anything whether it be print or web.
BTW, we can help you do this. If you don’t know our experienced Content guy (and copywriting genius) Mike Roe, you should. Sit down and chat with him. You’ll learn a ton in just a few minutes.
Don’t take your content for granted. It is the foundation of everything you communicate. And if you hadn’t read Bill Gates essay on Content on the Internet, you should. It seems as if he wasn’t far off on how things have worked out for the internet.
What do you think?