Anyone who’s worked on a website refresh project knows that a lot of time is taken up with design considerations, from the logo to the colours, to the size of the buttons. Content often comes as an afterthought.
Here’s why we think it should be the other way around – and why a ‘content goes here’ approach can compromise the success of your project.
Why content-first matters to users
It’s a waste of resources to spend a fortune on design, only to populate a site with badly thought-out, second-rate content. Or worse, to migrate existing content you know doesn’t work because you haven’t adequately planned content creation into your project.
Content carries your company’s message to the user, enabling them to navigate your site. It answers their questions, explains your products, handles their objections, and ultimately persuades them to buy from you.
Making content the Cinderella of your strategy can mean it ends up shoehorned into unsuitable designs, compromising the user experience, and ultimately risking the failure of your site to meet your business objectives.
The content-led approach: Users appreciate a great logo, but it’s not necessarily the crucial thing they need from a website. Online users are primarily task driven – they come to a site to find information, check a fact, find an answer to a question or buy a product.
Adopting a strategic approach will enable you to identify these tasks and how they match up to your business objectives. Then you can ascertain what content is needed to enable the user to complete these tasks most easily.
Why content-first matters for your project
The dawning realisation mid-project that content doesn’t just come into being when needed isn’t pretty. That’s because good – or even not particularly good content can’t be produced in five minutes. After being briefed, researched and written, content will often need to go through several layers of sign-off, sometimes needing input from legal and compliance teams. Trying to do that in a hurry will delay the project and lead to problems with budget.
The content-led approach: Planning in a coherent process for producing content will be more efficient and cost-effective than trying to throw together content at the last minute.
An ideal process for a large project will start with a content audit to establish what content already exists, what can be migrated or repurposed, and where gaps exist. This can be followed by content planning sessions, the output of which will be used to create written briefs for every page.
A process for content production needs to be decided on, with a clear timetable for briefing, writing, making amends and uploading into the CMS, with a well-defined sign-off process built in.
Using content to lead design will also mean designers have clear concepts to work with from the start, cutting down on the time they need. The design and build agency can then work alongside a specialist copy agency to create a design that meets the user’s needs and the company’s objectives.
Creating a site around content may take a little more planning, but overall it will make the process smoother and faster – and it will mean you end up with a result that everyone can feel proud of.