Content before design
Updated: May 23, 2019
As human beings we are visual animals. To grasp something, we need to see what we are talking about. It is vital early on in the process to develop your content strategy first. How can you design something if you don't even know what is going in it in the first place? Many people assume you have to have the design down first.
“CONTENT PRECEDES DESIGN. DESIGN IN THE ABSENCE OF CONTENT IS NOT DESIGN, IT'S DECORATION” -JEFFREY ZELDMAN
Without content your design is meaningless. Content is how you communicate. It is the tone, the style and what you want emphasized. It’s how you tell a story.
When writing copy, it usually goes through several rounds of revisions. Each time a revision happens, the designer has to change their overall design as well. This doesn’t mean the copy has to be 100% ready to go before you can start designing, it means you need to have a base of where to start, and how that design will support the content.
The design needs to be built around the content. Content is the foundation of any design, and you can’t build the rest of anything (literally speaking) if there is no solid foundation. Design is what encompasses all the things you are as a brand.
Looking at all the best creative designs, whether it be a print ad, landing page, or just workflow, they all have a harmonious tie-in to each other. The design and copy are suppose to play off of each other, not for a moment considering they are two separate pieces of work.
The perfect copy needs the perfect design.
Design is still a crucial part of everything, and none of this is saying that design doesn't matter, because it does. If a customer comes to a beautifully designed website or sees a beautifully designed ad, they will know a professional did it and will take you seriously.
Design is also about communication and what you are trying to communicate through your design. You can't communicate if you don't know what you are trying to say from the start. Design is like writing an interactive story.
A good design is not why you have people visit your website—your content is.
When we ask for content first, it is to make sure we give your customer the information they are looking for in an effective and simple way. Take the time to develop a content strategy that ensures you meet the goals of both your business, and your users. Also ask yourself what you are trying to communicate next time before you start designing.