The value of content before website design

This applies to both blogs and websites. I strongly believe in preparing website content before initiating graphic design. While some may disagree with me, I will fight the battle and dig in because the content is more important than website design.

The website design should focus on the user and their needs. It should focus on the user’s problems and the website’s ability to solve them.

It shouldn’t be about coding trends or prepackaged templates.

Design trends come and go, but focusing on the user should not be lost

I will receive emails from people discussing their website design requirements. Often, these lists will focus on specific project criteria such as infinite scroll, hamburger menus and hero images.

Rarely does a person approach a design company and present data based upon their users, their needs and the ultimate goals for a website visit?

Website owners can get caught up in their competitors’ latest design trends and websites.

Content First leads to educated design decisions

Documenting your desired user flow and visitor paths is something you do after the graphic design has been completed. This is a wrong approach as it makes you match content to your website’s design or theme. It should be the exact opposite.

Before you start falling in love with a website competitor, lusting after a template for WordPress, or reaching out to a graphic designer to help you, it is important to think about the goals and objectives for your blog or website.

Concentrate on the Right Content

Although I believe content should be written before you begin to design, that doesn’t mean you need to write all of it. This would be difficult for website owners and businesses.

Clients should focus on the most important pages and sections of their website. During sales, I often go through a client’s website to find areas that could benefit from custom design templates. These will depend on the client, industry and target demographic.

These are the areas that most benefit from a content-first strategy.

Sometimes, I will suggest a handful of templates. Other times, I might suggest fifteen to twenty. It all depends on the complexity of the content and the call to action and flow.

Your graphic designer will know more about your industry and have more resources to help you create a design that is more targeted and unique.

Finding balance

Some situations may not allow you to use a content-first approach to website design. Balance is key, and you must choose your battles.

I recommend starting with the universal elements like navigation, SEO and call to action if this approach proves difficult. Next, narrow your focus by looking at user personas as well as the paths of their visitors.

Start with the homepage and let the design-build from there. Throughout the process, please keep your eyes on the visitor and their needs.

Although it can seem overwhelming, the process is like any other part of life.

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