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Is Bad Design Ruining Your Content (And Vice Versa)?


Graphic designers tend to trick themselves into believing good design is all that matters. But that simply isn’t true!

Although good design IS important, it can’t save bad content.

If the content you pair with your design is boring, confusing, doesn’t tell a story and isn’t targeted to your audience, you’re wasting your time.

And the same is true for content creators! If the design and imagery you use are boring, confusing, don't connect with your audience or do not optimize to your audience’s viewing device, you also are wasting your time.

The key is to put equal importance on design and content. Take the time and energy to fully craft and polish your content AND spend time creating a design that tells a story, resonates with your audience and most importantly passes the grunt test.



What in the world is a grunt test, you ask?
Good question!

In order for your website or marketing materials to pass the grunt test, a proverbial caveman would need to be able to “grunt” the message you are trying to communicate. your message. In other words, your message but be clear and simple.

If your message is “gruntable,” good for you! You passed! If your message failed the grunt test, then you have some work to do.

Learn more about the grunt test by signing up for the StoryBrand online course.

Follow these tips to ensure you create a great-looking/sounding piece that passes the grunt test. 

Clarity Is The New Creative

Content: Keep it simple. Avoid using big words, analogies and lengthy descriptions. Find the most obvious way to convey your message, and do that.

Graphics: Bells, whistles, flashes and slideshows are all useless if they end up distracting your audience from the true message. Boil your design down, keep it clear and simple, highlight what’s important and establish a hierarchy.  

Mind The Knowledge Gap

Content: Don't assume  your audience has a base knowledge of your business or industry. You are so close to what you do that it may seem like common knowledge, but it isn't!

Most companies end up speaking over the heads of their audience, even when they are convinced they have "dumbed it down" to a fifth-grade level. Lose the jargon and six syllable words. Instead, speak to your audiences pain points and desires in laymen terms.

Creative: Don’t overload your audience with graphs, flowcharts, maps or technical drawings. Speak to your audience on their level by finding an easy, clear way to visually communicate.

Cut The Crap

Content & Creative: Is it absolutely necessary? Does your audience care?

If the answer is “no” to one or both of those answers, then nix the design or content. You don’t need it! Adding fluff or flashy features confuse your audience and prevent them from fully understanding your message.


Internal Collaboration: Look, you are great, you really are, but everyone is better when they work together. You may have awesome ideas, but when you collaborate with others, those ideas grow and become something even more amazing than you imagined.

If you are lucky enough to work with a team, then partner with them. If you are a solo act, try reaching out to a someone in your industry that you respect.

External Collaboration: Let people completely disconnected from the project review your work; you need an objective point of view. This will tell you right away if you have passed or failed the grunt test.

Ready to clarify your brand’s message? Contact ROI Online for a FREE strategy session! Our talented team of writers and designers can create a website and marketing materials that will grow your business!

Schedule A Strategy Session

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