Content-first Web Design

Content is one of the most important parts of your website. This allows your designers to gain insight into your company’s personality so your design can be aligned with it. You wait until you get a nice set of designs that you approve, then proceed to build out content that may or may not even fit the layout. In reality, we should be using the website’s content as the foundation of the design process.
Putting content first truly allows us to analyze its opportunities, constraints and the implications it could have on the design. This approach allows your UX to be much more fluid, reduces disconnects between content and design and helps avoid later delays in the redesign process when the two don’t cooperate. If your content is unique and different, it should be treated as so. To keep it that way, let’s look at how a content-first approach is the best strategy you should use on your next website redesign.
If the primary purpose of your website is to deliver a valuable experience based upon your content, then we should be utilizing it as your website’s design base. Waiting for designs to be completed first tends to create a flawed website redesign process. Also, if you choose to force the content to work, you end up creating a disjointed experience and user flow. Visitors may not understand how to interact with certain areas of your site ultimately causing them to leave. So, what tends to happen is your designers create a set of beautiful pages that fit the style you envisioned for your brand based on the content you brainstormed.
While content last certainly isn’t the end of the world, it helps keep it on your highest priority so your designers know exactly what they are working with before trying to create something that may not align with your brand.
The considerations can be taken in this instance are as follows:
1. Avoid lorem ipsum (dummy by-default content)
One tactic many companies use when designing their website is temporarily using Lorem Ipsum or any dummy filler text, as a substitute for content. By using dummy text, designers will feel compelled to rush through the designs throwing in whatever length they feel looks ok in the layout.
So while the three lines of text they put under each testimonial area may look nice, you may realize one of those testimonials is actually six lines long. If this doesn’t look good, you are left having to get it redesigned so it fits. Dummy text mockups end up wasting just as much time as designs without any content at all. Although, getting perfectly proofed content in a short period of time can be hard for companies with a lot to do attirude.
2. Design with proto-content
Proto-content is content in a Google/Word document or text file that has a base outline of the content you hope to have on your site. The goal of proto-content is for you to gauge the length of your content, it’s language and voice early on so you have something to test within your mockups. Your proto-content can be a set of bullet points that contain a general idea of what you want to say with mentions of the range of length.
This method won’t be perfect, especially since you are probably going to be changing the content on your pages. To minimize content conflicts, use this tactic on pages that won’t require a major content overhaul, such as your blog, company profile and team page. Aside from helping your design process, using this technique also gives you a chance to test your new content in front of your target audience early on. This allows you time to edit it based on feedback and ideas.
3. Can’t get content? Design using competitor’s content
Using your competitor’s content gives you a chance to see how they position themselves, so you can pivot yourself appropriately to one-up them. As long as you are using the same with proper reference, there’s no harm in using your competitors as a basis for your own redesign.

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