A lot has been written about content is king to drive traffic to your website, and it is absolutely true that useful content and products are what bring repeat visitors to your site and encourage sharing. It is basic human nature – people use what they perceive as valuable to them. Maybe a site tells them how to do something, makes them laugh, or allows them to escape into a story. Think about the websites you visit or tell others about: What brings you back or pushes you to share them with your friends?

Of course, web design is important, too. It conveys your brand’s story, it grabs a user’s attention, it gets people talking, and it helps users navigate your site. Design can make or break a website. For some, it can be hard to grasp the interaction between content and design, and, depending on who you talk to, they may have very passionate opinions one way or the other.

So, in an ongoing series at Brain Juice, let’s use a cake analogy. If your website was a piece of cake, the design would be the frosting, and the content would be the cake. The cake, in this analogy, defines the site. Cakes are named for the type of moist, sugarly deliciousness at the core: chocolate, carrot, red velvet, etc. Likewise, a website’s content or products are what define the site – news about politics, DIY for homeowners, HTML tips, crafting with paperclips (okay, you get the idea).

The frosting is the design, what makes the cake better. It takes something that is delicious and makes it divine. Sure, you could eat the cake without frosting, but it’s so much better with frosting – maybe a little, maybe a lot. It makes the cake more attractive – drawing you in, maybe even telling a story on its own (think wedding). You might try just some frosting, but it’s the combo that keeps you coming back – that brings you joy and that you share with others.

So, for your website, remember: Design and content are co-dependent. You need both to ensure people will keep coming back and tell others about it.

And, like cake, you need to always make more. But, that’s a subject better tackled in future posts.

This was originally posted on ADG Creative’s Brain Juice blog.