Content First – The Most Effective Method for Website Design

When you think about it, what is your website really all about? That’s right, content. Your website is about presenting appealing content to your visitor in the hope of them taking an action.

Yet, the process of designing websites is wrong. Too often, the process looks like this:

  1. Design is made
  2. Code the design and develop the website
  3. Write the content and fill up the website

Let’s look at why this process is backwards.

Content Needs To Be Designed

The content on your website is what needs to be designed. When designers create a design, they always put in filler text. What they need to do is create areas where content can be displayed. But how can this be done effectively if you don’t know which content you want displayed?

Moreover, what is the efficacy of having a designer create the spaces for content and then having a copywriter adapt to the areas. Useful content is content that is designed properly. Content that is intertwined with layout and design to be easily read and understood. Content is not just words. Content is design too.

Beware of the Big White Text Field

Traditionally many templates that were designed were basically a shell. A nice header, navigation and footer elements. Perhaps a sidebar too. Then in the middle was a big white text area that fitted a title and, for lack of a nicer way of putting it, a wall of text.

We already know that the time we have to get readers interested is very limited. Attention spans are decreasing and readers need to be engaged ever quicker. So let me ask you. If you see a wall of text, how do you react? Most likely, you close the page.

Start With Content First

By starting with content first, you start looking at what content you want to highlight and what words you want to have on your page. From there, your copywriters and designers work in very close collaboration.

The result of a content first approach is a page that is designed with the content in mind. This in contrast to a page that has had content jammed into spaces where the design allowed it. The latter makes little sense, but the former does.

Really the only way to make an effective website is to start with the content and together weigh pros and cons of solutions against both a design and content standpoint. A collaborative approach yields incredible results. And it isn’t that tricky.