Why good web design needs content first

As much as we’d love to say that web design is the be all and end all of a good website, it’s just not true.

A good website is a mixture of good content and good design. And to provide a good design, content is needed first.

Web design and content

Web design is just an extension of page design. Page design is all about crafting the perfect paragraph. And the words, or content, on your website are the real reason that people visit your website: not many people have ever visited a website just to look at its design.

The design of a website is something that enables easy and pleasant viewing of content. Which is why good web design needs content right from the get go.

Templates and mock ups only go so far

When there is no content for a website, standard practice in web design is to use Lorem Ipsum – aka Latin gibberish – to fill out the spaces where real content will go. While this is fine in some respects, it doesn’t allow for a truly customised design.

What happens when content is shoehorned into a design and it doesn’t fit?

The design breaks.

Heading and titles don’t fit. The white space for text turns out not to be big enough and the copy ends up all over the page.

It dawns that three call to actions aren’t needed.

All of these issues need to be fixed by the web designer and leads to delayed deadlines, frustration, and potentially extra cost.

All of these issues could have been avoided if content had been provided in the first place!

Responsive design and content

Responsive design is all about having the same content displaying nicely across different platforms.

It is very hard to design a responsive website without having the content.

How will we know what headings or paragraphs look on different devices like if we’re just using Latin mock ups?

It becomes difficult to provide a truly good design if there is no indication of how long or short content is going to be.

What makes good design?

A good design isn’t made up of just excellent artwork or super clean user interface. A good design puts communicating the products and services, company mission and vision, and benefits to customers at its heart.

The fundamental purpose of a website is to communicate with your audience. Usually through written content.

Content First

When a designer has the real content, even if it is subject to some change, they can design around it and provide a user-focused experience.

They’ll know how real content will look, if it will fit, if it works on a particular page or not, and if any of the core design concepts need to change to accommodate the content.

Providing content gives the designer the ability to focus on how people will experience the content, ensuring their experience is the best possible. Providing content means a better end product.

At the end of the day, asking a designer to create a website without content is a bit like asking an architect to design a house without telling them how many bedrooms, bathrooms, or kitchens there are. You’d have a funny looking house if you did that.

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