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Why we are switching to a content first website design process

Patrick Nelson
Content focussed

There are several different ways to approach creating a new website for any business. Some agencies (still) put design first. Others (like us) put functionality first. A better approach is to put content first. And, in 2015, we’re changing our approach for the better.

Why content first?

In A Practical Guide to Designing for the Web, designer Mark Boulton wrote “There is a symbiotic relationship between content and design. One cannot thrive without the other”.

We believe that relationship works best when we put content first. We make better design decisions, we ensure that our sites achieve their goals and objectives and we produce a better experience for your visitors and users of your site.

In short, putting content first means we will deliver better websites.

(Note: When we talk about content, we don't just mean the blog posts and articles you use in content marketing, we mean all the content on your site. That's right everything from the choice of words for your main menu right down to your privacy policy and the thank you messages you display when someone shares your content or completes your contact form).

Why? Because websites are, after all, a way of delivering content. If you focus too much on how your website is going to look or on the functionality - if you make content subservient to design, you run the risk of problems like:

  • the design cannot sustain the content
  • you can’t sustain the amount of content the site needs to continue to look good

In Content Strategy for Agencies, Liam King relates the example of adding a Latest News section to the homepage of a new website. The client has only published six news items over the last year. Nothing was going to change that indicated they’d be able to produce more in the future (no new staff hires, for example).

Without being able to guarantee an increased frequency of news, the proposed Latest News section would only succeed in providing a poor experience to their users and damaging their goals by failing to sustain the design of the site.

On many website design projects it’s usually too late by the time someone realises this. Either more money needs to be spent changing the design or the site - and the users - suffer.

We believe that once we understand your goals: your goals for your site, your goals for your content, who your target audience is, the format, structure, frequency and style of your content, then we can help you make smarter, more strategic, more user-oriented design, functionality and business decisions.

Not only that, but

  • Your new website will cost less because we are only designing the stuff you really need to support your content.
  • Your new website will cost less because we won’t be producing functionality that you don’t need.
  • We know what content will be on the site and can develop accordingly.
  • You get your new website more quickly because we get the designs right first time.
  • We have real content to work with and we can base our designs around what’s really going to be on the site (instead of paragraphs of lorem ipsum that don't reflect your real content).
  • Your content quality won’t suffer because your copywriters have to try and produce all the content in one huge rush towards the end of the project.
  • You know you will be able to sustain the level of content that the site needs and we will give you a plan and the tools you need to do it.
  • Your site will go live on time because working on content from the outset greatly reduces the risk of your launch being delayed.
  • You won’t waste time and money on unnecessary content because we will help you to prioritise the content that delivers your business goals and meets the needs of your users.

In 2015, to get more enquiries, more leads, more sales and more clients, your website will need to convince visitors that you are someone they want to do business with. To do that, you need great content. Content that compels, intrigues, appeals, informs, educates and entertains.

It’s easy to design and launch a new website.

It’s a lot harder to continuously write engaging new content week after week, month after month. That’s why your website needs a content-first approach and a manageable plan to produce that content.

We’re committed to helping our clients businesses succeed. That’s why we’re changing the way we work in 2015 and adopting a content-first process. If you want your website to succeed, we would love to hear from you and discuss how we can work together to help you achieve your plans.

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