The Hierarchy of Content: Changing Layout Design to Accommodate Multimedia Content

The internet is a haven for interactive media. Traditional media relied on the strength and collaboration of written and photographic storytelling (with a heavy emphasis on the written), but today, brands and publishers rely on a combination of interactive media storytelling to create content. Everything’s on the menu to churn out a table of content, from lists to maps to gifs to podcasts to charts to video (especially video) to combining all of them in one. Now, it’s just about balancing how to display and layout this content.

Traditional layout design from newspapers and magazines favors the title > image > byline > copy layout, but traditional print media can’t exactly publish gifs, can they? (Side note: wouldn’t you see a spike in print sales if they could somehow accomplish this feat? Like, publish moving pictures in newspapers via Harry Potter magic? Now that could revitalize the print industry’s dwindling sales. Alas…)

Title > Image Title > Item Description > Image

Taking a note from traditional media’s layout design, web content complied to the same rules and restrictions of traditional paper media for a long time. “Above the fold” on a web page translated into everything you could see on a page before you would need to scroll. For a long time in media, the most important pieces of a story occurred above the fold in the first few images or sentences; a “hierarchy of content” occurred in not only its layout, but its journalistic content (inverted pyramid structure).

Now, as we prefer to see more interactive media in our content (videos, gifs, charts), the “hierarchy of content” must change as our consumption habits change. We’re no longer afraid to scroll down pages; in fact, all we do is scroll down social media feeds on our mobile devices. Even though 80% of our attention is spent “above the fold,” nearly 66% of our engagement is done below the fold, according to Chartbeat.

Since we’re all now pro-scrolling content consumers (and our attention spans are less than goldfish), brands and publishers are looking to push what’s most important/entertaining/interesting above the fold and what’s most engaging below it. It’s a tricky task, but one that’s easily been solved by Buzzfeed, of all publishers.

Eschewing traditional layout design, a new hierarchical content design replicates the structure of listicles, following the formula of title > copy > item title > image > item description (and so on and so forth). Yes, we can thank/blame/curse Buzzfeed for popularizing this new layout trend as other publishers (and eventually brands) rushed to replicate Buzzfeed’s success (re: traffic—though for many it was too late; Buzzfeed won the traffic wars) and the shifts to multimedia storytelling to accommodate video. Approximately 70% of future internet traffic is estimated to come from video and multimedia content.

We too have made adjustments to support a new hierarchy of content by adding more choices to our display options. Now, you can choose between showing the item title > image > item description or the traditional display option (item title > item description > image) in Cards to balance displaying.

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And FYI: This option can be selected under the Elements section when in Preview mode. Once selected, it will only appear if the Cards are expanded.

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Quietly will continue to make adjustments to the “hierarchy of content” as brands and publishers continue to experiment with its layout design. Who knows what future trends will, but it will be up to brands and publishers to determine what’s best for them. And, now they have the choice.

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Image Credit: Kaboom Pics

10 Simple Tips to Craft Compelling Headlines

By Emily E. Steck

If content is king, then headlines are the keys to the kingdom. No matter how good the content publishers make is, the reality is that a reader’s first assumption about the content is its headline. And with so much content out there, a good, tweaked headline can reap benefits.

  • Write 25 Headlines for Every Article

    By Emily E. Steck

    Not only does a headline make a first impression for your reader, but it's also the gatekeeper for your content. A bad headline can keep people out; a good headline can let people in. [Twenty-five is the magic number for headline success](https://blog.quiet.ly/industry/why-25-is-the-magic-number-for-headline-success/) and this principle is known as the"Upworthy Effect." For every post Upworthy publishes, the editorial team writes a minimum of 25 headlines before choosing the best one. It's a great exercise to develop new concepts and ideas and also to work through multiple drafts of your headlines.

  • Offer Help and Solutions

    By Emily E. Steck

    Content is supposed to inform, educate and entertain, but often the best content helps a user. If you type in "headline writing" into Google, the highest results will offer _solutions_ to headline writing. (Not unlike this embed.) Focus your headlines, then, on helping solve a problem rather than telling about something. So spin a news item into what to do about it. Instead of "Here's What You Need to Know About X", frame it as "What to Do Now That This Happened".

  • Share Experiences

    By Emily E. Steck

    Both B2B and B2C brands can benefit from the "What we/I learned" headline framework. By speaking to your readers from your experience, you instantly create trust, authority and a promising solution with your headline. Think articles like "We Overhauled Our Email Strategy and Gained 10,000 Subscribers in 6 months" or "What I Learned from Contouring my Face Everyday". They instantly make the articles more personal.

  • Promises and Calls to Action

    By Emily E. Steck

    What will happen to your reader if they read this piece of content and not others? Where's the promise that their life will be better/different/easier? Make promises in your headlines that call your readers to action—just as long as you can keep them. Instead of something like "Building Your Personal Brand", frame it with a promise like, "How to Build Your Personal Brand and Score Your Dream Job".

  • Include Data and Quotes

    By Emily E. Steck

    Include information that makes them want to read more. Usually, this is in the form of data (like numbers and facts) or quotes (like those from a celebrity or well-regarded expert). Statistics and quotes are even better used when they seem difficult to believe. B2B brands love to employ this tactic, as it furthers their case for credibility. Something like "How We Boosted Our Traffic by 40% in Just Three Months!" can do the trick.

  • Listify Content

    By Emily E. Steck

    Lists offer structure within your content and your headlines. Lists give an idea of what an article is about, how long it is, etc. Really, they’re perfect for headlines. The good headline of “How To Build Your Personal Brand & Score Your Dream Job In The Digital Age” can shift to “10 Steps To Build Your Personal Brand & Score Your Dream Job In The Digital Age.” We now know how long the article is and what to expect.

  • Consider Your Audience

    By Emily E. Steck

    A headline has to fulfill a promise to your audience, not trick them into reading something. After all, you don’t want to lose their trust. Think to yourself: Does this answer a question my readership might have? Am I speaking in their language? Craft your headline for an audience of just one person so that the content resonates with them.

  • Align it with Your Content

    By Emily E. Steck

    Content should always have a purpose, otherwise it's just content for content's sake. Your headline should reflect the angle of your content and why you are creating content. Always ask yourself: What’s the point of this content? Better yet, ask what is _the most important_ point of this content?

  • Lean Positive or Negative

    By Emily E. Steck

    Statistically, readers like superlative words in their content aka either extremely positive (best, easiest, greatest, ultimate) or extremely negative words (never, don't, stop, avoid). If you want your content to get attention, your headline must be on either end of the spectrum; otherwise, it won’t catch anyone’s attention.

  • Avoid Clickbait and Headline Fatigue

    By Emily E. Steck

    We all know what clickbait is and we've all been guilty of clicking on it. Don't be guilty of creating it. Avoid creating headlines like “One Tweet Perfectly Explains Life” or anything that sounds misleading, desperate or falsified.

Understand how Quietly can help play a role in your content marketing efforts.

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