the sky floor

Website Design or Content First – An Epic Battle

July 16, 2021

When starting a new website project, there is a war between design and content. Often, content is prepared last, and it is easier to keep the ball rolling by getting design direction nailed down. 

From the perspective of the website agency, design is in our court – we can keep the work moving while we wait for content, so often that is what happens – design and then content. 

But wait! Content is critical to the success of the website. 

SEO and SEM practitioners will tell you that you have to start with content. Anything but that will sink the ship, titanic style, and prove you’re doing everything wrong

I tend to agree; content is vital. But not in such dramatic terms. 

Content and design are both important! It is crucial to have an attractive, easy to comprehend and navigate design. But if you fill that with Lorem Ipsum, you will never sell your idea, and Google will have no idea why your site exists. 

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What if it doesn’t have to be one or the other first?

If you can get all your content in place before hiring a web design agency, you will be way ahead of the curve. But, since this often does not happen, consider moving forward with design and then generating content as the project progresses. 

The Giant Caveat

Don’t ask your agency for all your page layouts with placeholders and say, “we will fill in the content later”!

The design and layout of each page before you have content is a mistake! Your layouts will shift and look like second thoughts (hint: they are when you do it this way). You will have to re-design elements to fit the newly minted words and images. 

How should it work?

In an ideal world: You as the client come with all your content prepared or a budget that can pay for content creation. 

In the real world: You hire your website agency, and they work with you to create a home page design with content direction. Then you start providing content as they use the home page design direction to inform the style of subsequent pages. 

Design and content don’t need to be at war with each other. It doesn’t have to be all design is done up-front or all content is created up-front. 

You should have content first, but if you don’t, start the design but then build the rest of the process in tandem with content for each page followed by design.