There is a Difference between Good Presentation and Good Content

Let’s start with 3 truths.
1) The best place to be is to have a good presentation with good content. Works in any situation.
2) If you have good presentation and your content sucks, you might still get away with it.
3) If your content is great but your presentation is crap, it’s 50/50 split that could go either way.
Right. Interestingly, this was one of the topics we discussed during the Designer Mentoring program. It came up a number of times, so I felt it should be shared here with all of you as well. It is quite a difficult concept to grasp, so please bear with me while I try to explain?
Time and time again I see this issue crop up in Design. Some common scenarios include designers that sketch well (presentation) but produce unusable or poor designs (content), or portfolios that have great layouts (presentation) but suffer from poor image quality or work (content).
The trick is to be able to distinguish between good presentation and good content.
The first thing to do is to not get overly caught up with the allure of technical skills like sketching, rendering or even public speaking. While a certain level of skill is still required, for the sake of argument, lets consider that a great presentation excites the eyes but often fools it.
In this context, what is great content? Great content just works, great content makes sense, great content is timeless, and great content is beautiful (more than skin deep!). Most important of all, great content still works even if it was let down by a poor presentation. Try to look past the presentation and into the core of a design by asking yourself why it works. Be critical with everything. Don’t just look, but see.
Oh one last thing, substitute “content” with “idea” or “concept” and you still get the same results.

3 Comments
  • Rizal

    July 31, 2009 at 11:09 am Reply

    This is an interesting topic. I believe, we should try to master both when presenting our works, thus set us apart from non design background people.
    Not having a good content may lead to some people (non designers) saying “Design can be learned in few days, unlike us, who know about planning and marketing which are hard to master (learn)” or “Designers only know how to draw” or “I am maybe not a designer(i cant draw), but actually i can design too (since i can think)”
    I believe such comments existed since designers fail to master both good presentation and contents. At the end, some people are left with the impression that design is all about drawing and having great sketch, colours, and aesthetic values, and not about the ability of creative, critical ,structural or problem solving thinking.

  • DT

    August 5, 2009 at 5:53 pm Reply

    Hi Rizal,
    Very insightful comment. That is at the end of the day that makes a professional designer different from an amateur. These days with all the free software online anyone can be a designer and learn the technical skills to do so. But when it comes to content, it is far and wide.

  • […] I always say, you need to distinguish between good content and good presentation. […]

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