Why Content Should Come Before Web Design

Content and web design go together like peanut butter and jelly—you really can’t, or at least you shouldn’t, have one without the other. And just like peanut butter and jelly, one naturally comes first (hint: it’s peanut butter).

But when it comes to content and web design, it’s not so clear cut. A debate rages on about which should come first. Of course, designers assert that web design should be in place first before moving forward, and content strategists maintain that content is the first priority. And while we respect the difference of opinion, the arguments for content before web design are pretty tough to beat.

Help The Web Design Process Run Quickly

For one, if the content is approved and ready to go before the web design is set, the process toward the finish line will move along much more quickly. Content normally goes through many rounds of revisions and edits, with everybody wanting a say. If the design is already locked down while content is still being revised, then the design must change, too, each time the content is fiddled with.

To speed things up, it makes more sense to ensure that everyone is happy with the content and that it is accurate and edited correctly so that everyone else in the chain can go about their work. Let’s not forget that their time is your money so the quicker your team gets to the final product, the better for you.

All too often, a web designer will focus on creating the look of a site and think of the content as an afterthought, simply filling in the blanks to boost SEO. But if you think about it, it’s the content that brings people in, and it’s the content that keeps people focused on your page and encourages them to dig deeper into your site. It is not (usually) the design that keeps people clicking through, it is the information available in the form of content.

That’s not to say that web design isn’t important, it is incredibly so and good web design will improve and increase the enjoyment of the user experience. However, the content is what communicates the most amount of information. This doesn’t have to mean paragraph after paragraph, it can be as simple as two or three words, but without content, a beautifully designed website will be difficult to understand and will have a hard time engaging the user. And once you lose a user, you will have a difficult time drawing them back.

Just The Right Mix

When you are designing for the internet, the goal is to have the content and the web design fit together seamlessly, so that you can’t imagine one without the other. And they should be a reflection each other — if the web design is sleek and simple, you wouldn’t want to clutter it with too many words. On the other hand, if the focus is to communicate a lot of information, you need to have a web design that can handle a heavy load of words.

No matter which way you look at it, content supersedes web design in terms of efficiency and logic, even though they are both equally important. And just like peanut butter and jelly, the relationship is meant to be a harmonious one, even, perhaps, a delicious one.