Why Content Should Always Come Before Web Design
So, you need a better website; one that converts more visitors into leads, and leads into sales. Great.
You might think your new web design is going to be the answer to all your problems, which is why you’ve been planning exactly how you want it to look all week, and hired the perfect designer for the job.
The content? Pah! Surely that can be done later.
Newsflash for you: An eye-catching design isn’t the most important part of your website.
It’s the content that really matters.
Why write the content first?
In the past, I’ve described your website as a jigsaw puzzle, with elements such as the content and design all having to fit together as neatly as possible. That makes sense, but it’s not exactly the best analogy.
Instead, you should think of your website as more like a game of Tetris – the blocks can technically go anywhere you like, but the less neatly they’re slotted in, the messier and more confusing it’s going to get for your visitors.
Your web designer will undoubtedly thank you, too. This is because it’s much more effective to design the website around your content, rather than having to squeeze your content around the website.
You won’t believe how many times I’ve had to go back and rework previous designs because the client waited until afterwards to write their content, and it just didn’t work well.
Doing it this way also means that your designer will know which elements of the website to emphasise and focus on – plus, it’ll give them a much better idea of what they’re working with from the get-go.
Use buyer personas
You probably know by now that buyer personas (semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers) are an essential tool for any business – so why would you leave them out when designing your website? You wouldn’t, silly.
Your personas should be an essential part of your research and development, to help you come up with a customer-centric web design that really works for your business.
The content you write should talk their language, with content that answers their questions, common pain points and challenges. Your website should include information they’ll find helpful, including a blog, and powerful call-to-actions (CTAs) so that they’ll know where to go next.
For more helpful tips, check out my Customer-Centric Design Checklist.
Map it all out
This is so important. After all, if you don’t know how one page links up with another, how are your visitors going to find their way around? Try to look at it from the perspective of someone who’s never visited your site before.
You need to map out each page on your website, and decide on the content and CTAs for that page, as well as how you’re going to get your visitors through their buying journeys.
Ideally, this all needs to be done before your designer even begins work on your site.
To give you an example of how important this is:
Imagine Lucy lands on your homepage, and is in the initial research stage of her buyer’s journey. She clicks on your product page, even though at this stage she’s more curious about whether your product is the ideal solution for her.
From there, she finds a cleverly-placed link to a blog post that explains all her options, with an offer for a more in-depth ebook at the bottom of the blog. She clicks through to a landing page, where she can read more about the ebook and its benefits, before filling out a form. This converts Lucy into a lead, and she’s given the link to download the ebook immediately.
This was an ideal experience for Lucy. There were no dead-ends or confusing pages that didn’t tell her where she was going.
You may have a good idea of how your web design should look, but your content is actually far more important. Think of your website as a game of Tetris; you can make the blocks go wherever you like, but the less neatly they’re slotted in, the messier it gets.
As a web designer, I know how hard it is to fit the content in after the design has been completed, and worst case scenario involves either being stuck with an ineffective design, or having to go back and actively change elements just so the content looks right. This is not ideal for you or the designer as your website will end up delayed and over budget.
Use your buyer personas to create effective content, and map out your pages so you can figure out how you’re going to get visitors from the start of their buyer’s journeys, right through to the end. You should ideally have this put together before your web designer begins the work on your new web design.
Have you written your new web content yet?