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A content-first website approach is the only way to build & design your new website

Trust me when I say I completely understand how from your perspective as the client, being asked to deliver your website content before seeing the design can feel confusing. Let’s explore why your website designer might be requesting you deliver your site content first and why it’s the only way you should work if you want a website which not only looks stunning but is streamlined and completely in tune with your brand.

First, what even is ‘content’?

By content, I’m referring to:

  1. Pages + Copy – every single page and word to be included on your website
  2. Imagery + video
  3. Forms/questionnaires
  4. Embed codes, API keys and any coding snippets (for example, you may want to bring a newsletter form you’ve built on Flodesk onto your site.

AKA – anything and everything you want to be included on your website.

Reason one: Content informs design + navigation

Imagine designing a bespoke dress without knowing the measurements of the person who will wear it. The result is likely to be ill-fitting. Similarly, your website’s design and layout should be tailored to your content. Knowing the content in advance helps create a design that not only looks great but also complements the information you want to share.

Your website’s navigation is also like a map, guiding users through your digital landscape. The content you provide helps determine the most logical way for users to move through your site. When you plan content first, it’s easier to organise menus and links in an intuitive and user-friendly way.

Reason two: User experience at the forefront

Websites are not just digital brochures; they are interactive platforms that engage with your audience. To ensure a seamless user experience, we need to know what kind of content will be on your site. Will it be text-heavy, image-rich, or feature loads of videos? This directly impacts the layout and structure of the site.

Reason three: Become besties with google

Want your website to rank high on search engines? The content you include – from keywords to meta descriptions – is crucial. By crafting your content before designing your website, you can ensure that the structure of the site supports SEO efforts.

Reason four: Leave no room for placeholder pitfalls

When the time comes for you to preview your new website for the very first time, you should instantly feel at home. It’s really hard to feel like this and visualise the bigger picture of the website when using place holder text or stock imagery which doesn’t align with your brand. It can also result in you not liking the design or layout because you’re distracted with placeholder imagery/content, creating a lengthier project or one that just doesn’t feel quite right.

In addition to you not connecting with the design, using placeholders can also result in:

Confusing Feedback
Placeholder content can lead to confusing feedback and revisions that aren’t representative of your actual content. This can extend the design process and lead to frustration.

Extra investment in Copywriting or Photography
By using placeholders, it can also mean when the time does come for us to slot in your website copy or those lovely brand shoot images, they might not fit or we may need more imagery. Aside from this resulting in a much lengthier project timeframe, it’s also going to see you incur addition fees with your Photographer/Copywriter.

Less “this paragraph needs rewriting to fit this space” or “we need an extra five portrait images”. More working with the copy, rather than against it. Using imagery to tell your brand story and your branding to bring everything together.

Missed Opportunities
By using placeholders, you might miss opportunities to integrate your content seamlessly with the design. Your website is not just about looking good; it’s about effective communication.

But, what about brand shoots?

If you are a completely new business or transforming your aesthetics completely, it’s highly likely you’re also looking to book a brand shoot but it can be tricky to plan a shoot if you don’t know the aesthetics of your new brand identity.

In this instance it’s best to wait until your brand strategy is finalised which will form an overarching view of your new brand identity and allow you or your Photographer to style a brand shoot which falls inline with your new identity.

Work with your Designer & Photographer to align dates for the shoot & delivery dates of your final photos to fall in line with your overall project timeframe. Depending on how your Designer works, it may involve a pause or a longer turnaround in your project with them to allow for the brand shoot.

To wrap up

So, the next time your website designer asks for your content upfront, remember they are not trying to complicate things – they are trying to make sure your website experience is as smooth as possible. It’s entirely your designers job to worry about what will fit where, how your content will flow and how to align your content so that it is the compass that guides your website’s design, ensuring it fits your brand like a glove.

In the end, it’s a strategy that leads to a website that not only looks fantastic but works beautifully for your audience.

Becky x
Welcome to the BLD Blog

Hello! I’m Becky. A brand identity & website designer for passionate & ambitious small businesses. This little corner of my website is dedicated to sharing the 15 years of experience I have with brands, websites and of course running a small business.

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