What Came First, The Content or The Design?

Teaser Image Citro Digital
It's an age-old question, except this one doesn't involve a chicken or an egg. Building a new website from the ground up can be an intimidating process and sometimes it might feel overwhelming. Jumping into design without a thought-out content outline can lead to a beautiful website that doesn't actually fulfill the users’ needs. Starting with content can lead to a dry website that looks more like a template and less like the creative, engaging website you've always dreamed of. So where should you start? Luckily, we've created a process to help our clients get started:
Citro Web Development Process

We don't believe that the process should be linear. Why hold up the whole project because you're waiting on one part? While there are definite steps that cannot be overlooked, we like to take an agile approach to all of our web projects. We aren't afraid to let our process be flexible to best suit your needs, as well as ours.

Every web project starts with a combination of both design and content in the form of a style tile and content outline. The style tile helps to iron out color palette, photo options, and the overall look and feel of your website while the content outline provides a guideline for what content appears on each page. The content outline also details functionality on each page so there are no surprises down the road. The beginning of the process is straightforward and helps to iron out any potential functionality and design issues early on in the process. Then comes the hard part: we have the general page structure and design direction, but what comes next, the chicken or the egg?

Content and design need to work harmoniously, but the truth is that working on both at the same time can pose some serious issues. If the designer is only accounting for a sentence or two of copy, but the copywriter provides an entire paragraph, it’s back to the drawing board, but for who? Should the design change to fit the copy provided, or should the copy be shortened to allow for a cleaner design? It's a tough question to answer, because honestly, there is no right answer. We like to be flexible when approaching both content and design. Everyone is different just as every web project is different. Some writers prefer to write freely without the confinement of word-length or a set layout, while others see the layout as a guiding force behind what to write. On the other hand, some designers love to have complete freedom and others need a little bit of structure to know where to begin.

As a designer, I've learned that being as flexible as possible is the best choice. Whether receiving copy from the client, or having our internal copy writers take a stab at your content needs, the goal of every website is the same: to create cohesive website content and design that drives users to an end goal such as form completion, purchasing an item, or downloading a .pdf. Ultimately, we work with each client to determine which should come first, the chicken or the egg... or in our case, the content or the design?

Do you need help deciding where to start? Contact us today and we'll be happy to help!
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