Which Comes First? The Content or Design?

by Sydney Cooke

The order of our process is strategic and purposeful, but why do we do things this way?

Create and organize your content first so that it drives design.

As you can see from this graphic, we don’t ask for much! 😉 This is actually an internal checklist that we use to make sure we have our goats in a row before starting a theme-based build. Our clients are only responsible for 3.5 of the 8. The .5 is #6, a theme because we share that load. My team will recommend themes but it’s the client’s job to pick one to work with. 

Today’s topic really revolves around the first two: sitemap and content! Your sitemap are the pages on your website and how they are organized. Content is all the text and media that will be on the site. There are really two main schools of thought for web design pertaining to when content comes into play for a project. 

  1. Design first, content second.
  2. Content first, design around the content.

Guess which school of thought we fall into? If you chose #2, then you are correct. I like how Slickplan explains this:

“Great websites start with great content! Create and organize your content first so that it drives design, not the other way around… More efficiently planned content leads to less time and money spent, fewer revisions, and a reduction of coding do-overs.”

They pretty much hit the nail on the head. In our experience, beginning to build or design a website without at least rough text content leads to many more revisions down the road. In essence, we cannot design around content that we cannot see. We cannot determine the best layout for a section without knowing if we are working with a paragraph, a title plus a list, one image or three images. We will guess based on assumptions and more than likely guess wrong. This guessing game becomes frustrating for all involved.

There are some agencies that work design first and it’s not wrong! It’s just not our style.

So, if you are looking to work with us, start thinking about your content before signing the dotted line, because we are going to ask you for it. If you need help with this, let us know! We have copywriters that can work with you getting everything organized and written. And we are happy to have a sit down to dig deeper into your needs and questions. 

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