Image by Brooke Cagle
There has been an on-going debate with web projects around whether you should provide content first or design first?
There’s no doubt that both design and content are essential for creating an enjoyable user experience. However, real data and highly curated content help to deliver effective, useful designs.
“No matter how talented a designer a website without meaningful content is destined to disappoint its users.”
Content comes first, but it requires a designers input
Design alone won’t achieve a site’s goals– instead, a website needs a lot of planning and a content-design strategy before it can advance further. Content and design teams should work together to decide on the types of content that will be part of the early wireframes. Afterall content is not just text! It can take a variety of forms – videos, infographics, charts, lists, audio etc.
Operating as a team allows designers to start working on early ideas to inform and guide decisions that communicate effectively.
“Design is communication – you cannot communicate if you don’t know what you want to say.”
The values of working together
Saves time and resources
The amount of time wasted each month on unproductive meetings is increasing year on year – Atlassian estimates the average employee loses 31 hours a month on initial phone calls, internal meetings and brainstorming sessions.
Kickoff meetings are the most crucial meeting of any given project. Getting the right people in the room can combat unnecessary, time-consuming meetings further down the line. Content writers and designers should get involved from the offset; they are equally responsible for understanding the clients short-term and long-term goals and transforming ideas into reality.
Content and design teams will all have their own opinions on working together every so often – doesn’t every team though! But, if you can introduce this way of working early on in the process, we guarantee it will produce better creative results and higher-grade user experiences across all marketing platforms.
Produces more accurate outcomes
All teams should have a clear understanding of the project goals. Silo’s within organisations cause so many problems especially when it comes down to the handing over the final piece.
To avoid any unwanted silo’s the content team should understand what new visuals will be produced and write their style content accordingly – language, audience, emotions and the tone of voice. Similarly, the content team should share their work to help the creative team visualise the concept more accurately.
The distribution of work can help the whole team work collaboratively as everybody has a clear understanding of the project goals. The collaboration will not only produce more accurate work but improve the user experience – why? Because all teams are working towards the same end-goal.
Keeps the project running smoothly
We probably all aware of the number of times project priorities change and teams have to switch on/off from other work. More often than not, content for a new site never comes quickly enough – whether it is in-house or the client is writing up ideas.
It is essential that the designers have full visibility of any content work that gets written. When the content creators have started to write a draft for the new site, the designers should request a copy and update their prototypes. The draft content is merely an early iteration of what will eventually get reviewed, revised and signed off but it will not be recklessly different from the final version. This is an excellent opportunity for designers to make use of the content early on in the designs – after all, content can profoundly influence design decisions and positions of the call to actions on a page.
Design tip: write indicators on your prototypes about the status of content to avoid any confusion.
A good UX designer reflects on content insights and folds that thinking into their work. The number of articles we have read advising content first is correct to some degree, but we would add the caveat – designers need to be involved with the content teams from the kickoff meeting.
It’s simple, content and design teams should be working together. Content teams need to be sharing early draft work, and designers need to be updating their wireframes or prototypes to validate design thinking and gear towards better all-around user experience.