The Importance of Content First Design

Anabeth McConnell Anabeth McConnell
September 17, 2019   |   3 min read time

What is the number one thing that keeps a potential lead on your website and reaching out to connect with your business? You guessed it - your copy. 

Clients come to us every day saying they’re ready to move forward with a website project but when the project manager (aka me) asks for their content documents, the everything goes quiet.

“Just go ahead and get started on the design,” they say. “We’re still working on the copy.”

Designing Without Copy

Here’s the problem. Without the copy, the designer has no idea which elements are important to call out in the design. Without the copy, the designer has no idea how much space to leave for the copy. Without the copy, the designer has no idea what type of imagery would best complement the page. 

Without the copy, the designer is just creating a pretty layout. Your website copy helps drive the UI/UX experience and guides the user down the journey.

Developing Without Copy

When a client approves a design (with only lorem ipsum text) and we move into development, the struggle becomes even more intense. The developer builds the page based on the approved design and it’s pixel perfect.

Now, the client jumps in and starts adding their content, but he starts freaking out saying this site looks horrible! 

Why? Because that 5-word headline the designer showcased now becomes a 10-word headline and the font size is too large to accommodate or the container width is too small so now the sentence is cut off at odd points.

So now the project timeline gets pushed back because the developer has to go back in and readjust everything to accommodate the copy.

Copy As An Afterthought

Well you say, I’ll just make the copy fit the design. Although that may seem to be a good option, your copy and ultimately your message will suffer.

Perhaps you do need a 10-word headline to evoke the emotion you want from your audience. Or, perhaps you do need 6 columns of content rather than the 4 approved in the design.

Here’s the thing, your website copy is the most important connection you have to your audience. Its sole job is to convey the who, what, when, where of your business and how your business is the best solution for your audience.

I can already hear you - but how do I write the copy when I have no idea what the page will look like?

Content Priority Guide

Here’s the great news - your content doesn’t have to be final. To get started, you need to write what needs to be conveyed to your user. Get started by writing what the benefits are and how you provide solutions to your users' pain points. Consider what other copy helps evoke the feeling that your company is the best choice or consider what other information your copy needs to convey to help your users down the buyer’s journey.

Once you have some copy written, organize it in order of importance and trim the fat. Remember, people don’t want to read a book on your webpage; they just need enough information that convinces them to reach out to you for more information.

Still feeling a little overwhelmed by writing your copy first?

I’ve got you - Content Priority Guides. From buyer personas to what elements to consider on each page, our Website Content Planner Guide with Priority Guide Templates helps take the stress out of creating your website copy.

The process is simple - understand your users and their needs, define what you want the page to say, identify the order of priority, and ensure you’re thoughtfully considering how each page of your site will create a connection to your audience.

Content plays an important role in connecting with your buyers, especially in a competitive marketplace.   Ensuring your website copy a priority before the design and development of your website puts your business on a better path for building valuable and profitable relationships with your target audience.

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