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Why Content Matters In The Web Design Process

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Originally Posted On: Why Content Matters in the Web Design Process | nuBranch Media


If you ask someone what they think goes into web design, they’re likely to list off things like colours, palettes, graphics, layouts, and placement. And they wouldn’t be entirely wrong, but they’d be leaving out the keystones of a successful website: great content and a greater user experience.

Designers aren’t just people that decorate websites and make them look nice and work well. In designing an attractive and successful website, the entire process starts with the content. That means:

  • All the text on your website, including body copy, headlines, and especially blog posts
  • The photos you want to use, whether they’re product or brand photos
  • Product descriptions
  • Tables, charts, and lists
  • Content for things like “about” and “contact us” pages

Think of it this way: If you were creating a flyer for your business, you probably wouldn’t start with designs. Instead, you’re going to have a message to get out there, whether it’s some kind of promotion or some way of showing off your products. The point is, you’ll have something to say, and you’ll have copy, photos and other ways of communicating it. The content.

Web design follows the same formula. The difference is that, where a flyer has a pretty simple user experience, a website is much more complex. Web designers create an experience of moving through the content of your site. And when that process happens upside down, the user experience suffers.

This user experience should be designed around business objectives, research, and content. Your business likely has the business objectives and user research in-hand. Content creation, on the other hand, can be a long process that’s often overlooked or put off until the last second. But this content plays a critical role in the design process as well as the success of your website.

The Problems with Designing First

When a website is designed before you have a message or a service or a product to offer, the result is that the design doesn’t fit with your business’s message. And that can create numerous problems with the quality of the user experience, such as:

  • Your website looking less professional
  • The content on your site not matching the overall aesthetic
  • Inconsistent brand messages across your content and design

And these problems accumulate throughout the process, making it more difficult as you go along. For example, the designer might create layouts that don’t fit properly with the content once you go to add it in. Or they may end up creating too few (or too many) page templates.

The time it takes to revisit the design to make it work with content creates inefficiencies that balloon a website project, straining you, your business, and the designer you’re working with.

For some, the solution is to use things like stock photos and “lorem ipsum” text as placeholders for the design. This may work in a few one-off cases, but in most instances, you end up with a great-looking design that you need to tailor your content for. Your copywriting ends up not fitting into the spaces created for it, so you have to trim it down or add more text, diluting your message. Or you need to use images that fit better with the design, sacrificing photos that better represent your project or business.

The Benefits of Content-First Design

Approaching web design with a content-first mindset offers several benefits. Not only does it enable a better overall vision, but it allows your designer to catch things in the design process before they turn into problems.

For example, starting with a healthy amount of content, the designer can build a better information hierarchy. This hierarchy determines which messages about your business, brand, product, or service are the most important, allowing them to design around them so that they’re more prominent.

You’ll also avoid endless rounds of iteration. Starting a design process without content means the designer is essentially stabbing in the dark on how to layout and present what it is you want. There’s simply nothing to design around. And that’s certainly not good for the designer’s time or your budget!

Lastly, having a strong brand voice created before the design kicks off helps guide and inspire designers by giving them a better understanding of your business. Things distinct to your brand can stand out well before there are colours on a web page. For example, if your blog content references a lot of different quotes, the designer can come up with beautiful ways to showcase these kinds of callouts.

Incorporating Content Creation into Design

If your website is a content-heavy website, designing around content becomes an even bigger imperative. In these instances, you’re actually designing for two different groups:

  1. The people visiting your site and consuming your content
  2. The people using your website on the back end, creating content for your visitors

By taking a content-first approach, you’ll gain a more profound understanding of the types of content your creators publish. You’ll learn about the length of the blog posts they publish, the kind of content that works best, and how they write headlines. And all of this reflective information is relevant whether you have dedicated content creators or you’re creating all of your own content.

This more in-depth understanding will guide the design process—not the other way around. Because, while design and the user experience is undoubtedly crucial, it’s what you say on your website that matters the most.

Conclusion – Content and the Web Design Process

At the end of the day, designing without content is simply decorating. The point of good web design is to guide your visitors—your prospects, followers, and customers—through a great user experience that they’ll keep coming back to. And without great content, that experience suffers.

By ensuring your website starts with a content-first mindset, you’ll ensure the fits perfectly with that you have to say. And the more you have to say, the better your designer can plan your website to fit that message.

Web design, web development, and digital marketing are complicated processes, but they don’t have to be mystical. If you’re looking for a partner to help take your business to the next level in any of these areas, nuBranch Media can help. Get in touch with us today to find out how.

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