Website Content or Design – Which Should Come First?

Jun 16, 2022 | Agency | 0 comments

One of the questions we get most commonly asked is, “What should come first: website content or design?” The answer is that it’s a bit like the old chicken and egg question.

When it comes to whether you should design your website or come up with its content first, there is really no “right” answer. A lot of the time, the decision as to whether content or web design should come first will largely down to the preferences of the content writers and designers that you are working with.

In this blog post, we will be looking at some advantages of the content first approach, as well as some of the advantages of the design first approach.

Content first approach

We will begin with the content first approach. Essentially, this refers to the belief that the website’s content should be finalised before the design process can begin.

Websites can be made up of many different types of content. When we talk about “content”, we’re referring to things like the words, pictures, videos, and social media widgets that will be featured on different pages of the website.

Believers in the content first approach argue that it is impossible to design any website without first designing the content. This is because design is largely informed by content.

Essentially, what this means is that the content that will be published on a particular page will influence the structure and function of the page’s design.

For one thing, it will influence the page’s overall layout. For example, if you intend to include text that is a particular length or word count, the designer will need to ensure that they allow adequate space for this on the page. Likewise, if you want to include a lot of images or videos on a certain page, the designer will need to leave room for this.

This will also impact other design choices, like the page’s overall navigation, flow, colour schemes, font size, and typography.

If you finalise your website’s content first before starting on the design, the designer will be able to input the site’s actual content in as they go. This eliminates the need for placeholder or “Lorem ipsum” text. 

Inputting the actual text that will appear on the finished website will provide your designer will have a better idea of how to design the website in a way that accommodates the content (i.e. that there is space for all the multimedia elements, text boxes that are large enough for the website’s word count, and so on).

As an extension of this last point, opting for a content-first strategy can help to save your designer time down the track. This approach allows them to create the website’s design to suit the content from the outset, which eliminates the need for them to rework the website’s design later to suit the content elements that need to be featured.

Having a proper content strategy in place from the outset can also be a great way to improve your site’s search engine ranking. By integrating relevant keywords into your content, you can get your site ranking higher in search results for the terms your target audience are searching for – even before your design has been properly finalised.

Design first approach

We will now look at the design first approach. Essentially, this centres around creating site maps and finalising the website’s design first, before then moving on to the content side of things.

Believers in this approach argue the exact opposite to those who believe in the content first approach – namely, that it is in fact design that informs content. 

This approach can have some merits in guiding the work of copywriters and content creators. For example, a designer might create a particular webpage that has a textbox that will accommodate 300 words of content. The content writer can then write to this word count, rather than simply producing content that may need to be cut down to fit the design later.

Finalising the design first can also help to provide content creators with a better idea of the content that needs to be created. This can help to ensure that all of the necessary content is written, whilst at the same time eliminating the potential for excessive or duplicate content. 

For example, the designer might create a design that consists of five pages, each on a different topic. The content writer can then come up with copy to suit each of these five pages, rather than producing copy that may not fit with the structure of the final website design.

Advocates for the design first approach also argue that things like layout and design are bigger drivers than content when it comes to creating a positive user experience. For example, if a visitor to a website finds it difficult to navigate or too slow to load, they will simply navigate away, regardless of how good the content on the site may be. A generally poor design will also cause visitors to navigate away from your site.

As you can see, both the content first and design first approaches to building a website have their own advantages. Both also play an important role in the overall look, feel, and user experience of websites.

At Tomedia, we view design and content as being equally as important when it comes to building a website. That’s why we focus on an integrated process that puts both design and content first.

Rather than focusing on these two processes separately, our content creators and designers work collaboratively from the very beginning to come up with something amazing, that covers all the bases from both a design and content perspective. 

At Tomedia, we are experienced in all facets of website design and content marketing. Find out more about how we can help you with your business’s website here.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *