8 Reasons Why Content Comes Before Design

Did the chicken come first?

What came first: the chicken or the egg?

Who cares, they’re both delicious (sorry, vegetarians).

But when it comes to designing a website effectively there’s a similar question to be had – and you should very much care about the answer. It could mean the difference between an amazing website and a cack one.

What comes first? The content or the design?

As someone who’s been crafting websites from scratch for a while now, I’ve found that I create a much better final result for my clients if I have the written content first (it’s the method I used for my own website too).

neon sign with the number 8 and an arrow pointing down

So, here are eight reasons why I think it’s best to have your content ready before the design phase begins. Feel free to disagree with me – you’re entitled to your opinion, even if it’s wrong 😜

1 – Content drives design

When you have your content written first, it gives me a clearer understanding of what it is that you want your website to say and do. It helps me tailor it to your unique needs and communicate your brand message so much more effectively. Basically, it gives me a running head start.

2 – It saves time and money

I speak from experience when I say that most clients want to make some changes to the page layouts during the build process. Believe me when I say that this is A) time-consuming and B) expensive for you. But, if you have your written content ready to go then it’s not half as much of a problem and it can really help your website build to come in on time and on budget.

3 – It’s less frustrating

There’s nothing more frustrating than spending hours and hours designing a website only to find out that the content that’s been written after the fact doesn’t fit. Not only is it a massive pain in the arse for me, but it’s equally frustrating for you because it’ll knock your launch date back considerably. Trust me; write your content first and save your blood pressure.

4 – Content helps the design process

I’ll level with you, starting a website from scratch can be daunting. A literal blank canvas with only a blinking cursor for company is enough to drive even the most experienced web designer crackers. But when I’ve got some written content in front of me then it really gets those creative juice flowing. It’ll help inform the design and layout and inspire me to do things I would never have thought of doing without it., which is always a positive thing for the finished site.

5 – Singing from the same hymn sheet

If the content has been brainstormed, picked over, rejected, overhauled, and enhanced by everybody on the project before the design phase begins then we’re all on the same page. This way, if I have a question about the content and layout then anyone on the team can answer with confidence because they’re all invested in the same vision. The alternative is me having to speak to Colin in your post room who last came into contact with something creative when he ate a crayon, aged 6. Not ideal.

6 – It prevents endless revisions

Ask any web designer to tell you a work-related horror story and I’ll stake my life on it that the vast majority of them will have one that contains endless revisions. Not only do they sap everybody’s will to live, energy, and time, but on many occasions it actually ends up diluting the original message to a shadow of its former self. Get your content written first and the design phase will be 100% easier, I guarantee it.

7 – It shows if the design is working or not

Much like when filmmakers have a scene that looks great on paper but absolutely stinks when they shoot it, having your written content ready can avoid an expensive ‘reshoot’ process. What looks amazing as a visual mock-up or placeholder might not work once we add the written content, so have your words ready before I start the design process and we can get it ‘in the can’ in one take.

8 – Content is never finished

In today’s digital world, content is king. If you want your website to be successful, you need to focus on consistently creating high-quality content that will engage your audience. If you already have that content written or even a basic layout placeholder ahead of time, then I can build the section/page/sub-page ready for when the time is right to publish this additional content. It’ll save everyone time, money, sleepless nights and the need to drink 4 cans of Red Bull in one sitting.

neon sign in trees that says and breathe

What do you think?

Agree with me? Disagree with me? Did I leave something out? What’s your experience been, either as a fellow web designer or copywriter, when starting from scratch? Feel free to drop me a line and let me know.

Likewise, if you need a website building by someone who’s passionately nerdy about what they do then give me a holler. I’ll ensure that your project runs smoothly, by the numbers and you won’t have to buy shares in Alka Seltzer to get through it.