Why content before design is good

The argument for developing content before design for a new website is nothing new. I just want to explain why, showing what can happen when the content is defined later.

“Let’s build a website to talk about our company. What’s it going to contain? Ummm, you know, the usual: some images, video and text. We’ll think about it and let you know.”

Illustration of a flip-flop representing a website

Illustration of hairy foot, representing the content

So the website is designed around a rough idea of the content it needs to contain, but perhaps without knowing its exact function, what it’s communicating or how much of it there is.

You could end up with this:

Illustration of a confused runner wearing a flip-flop on one foot

The website works, but doesn’t quite serve the function it needs to, or perform as well as it should.

And depending on the amount of information you want to add in the end, you could find your content squeezed in or looking empty. You don’t want blisters, do you?

Disclaimer: That is not my foot. My foot is not hairy.

2 thoughts on “Why content before design is good

  1. I’m stuck in the middle of this very situation as we speak.

    I joined my company recently as their first Content Manager. As it goes, I joined in the middle of a huge project to launch a brand new site. At this point, I was asked to ‘do’ the content for a site that had already been designed and structured, despite no-one really knowing exactly what the content was going to be or how it would fit.

    It has quickly become apparent as I work that many of the sections aren’t relevant, confusing, or simply don’t fit the proposition. But it’s too late – the area of the site had been designed, commissioned and built – so I *have* to make the content fit.

    To try and cut this rant short (as I could go on for hours), not having a content person on the project at the initial stages has, as far as I’m concerned, decreased the potential effectiveness of our new site by at least 50%. I only wish I could do something about it retrospectively.

    The only thing I have done is tried hard to make my concerns known without simply saying ‘this is rubbish’. I think I’ve opened some eyes and hopefully, the next project we work on will be approached from all angles equally.

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