What Comes First? Content or Design – Benefits of Content First Design

Every digital service provider has one indispensable question to answer before the start of each project.

What comes first? Content or Design?

While both approaches have their ups and downs, the conundrum is when designers need content to make design, and content writers need the design to write. It’s essentially the chicken-and-egg debate. We would suggest that the answer lies somewhere in the middle and we have to make our peace with our process. 

Importance of Content-First Design

A lot of organizations follow a design-first approach. Putting design and development at the forefront ain’t a fatal flaw. It does work. But, giving zero importance to content in the process is a problem. Ideally, designers use dummy texts such as Lorem Ipsum placeholders for designing. The design might constrain the content if left unchecked.

A design requires a reason. Who is the website designed for? Who are the audiences? What are the ways to incorporate SEO? Content provides the meaning and the reason for a design to happen.

But, there might be constraints to work under, and waiting for the perfect content might not be feasible. A content-first design doesn’t necessarily need the entire content intended for the design.

Ideally, a content structure or content model can serve as the lighthouse that your design ship requires. A book cover cannot be designed before the story is written. A building plan cannot be drawn without knowing the needs of the tenant. In the same way, developing a good design requires a content-first approach.

What is Content-First Design?

The Content-first Web Design approach was first advocated by Jeffrey Zeldman, the founder of A List Apart, back in 2008.

What Mr. Zeldman says makes sense. After all, people out there are not visiting your website to admire its aesthetic sense. They are driven to you by the value you can provide for them.

If it’s so obvious, why the design-first approach? The simple answer is that websites and applications used to have templatized layouts earlier and old habits die hard. Researching and producing content is also a tedious and hard process. Hence, it is frequently put off until the last.

In simple words, Content-first design is the method of approaching design based on the central brand name, identity, and core values, rather than just making a visually pleasing design. This approach can help businesses in a lot of ways such as reaching the right audience, saving resources, etc

Benefits of Content-First Design

The content-first design has loads of benefits to offer. Some of them,

Incorporate SEO Best Practices

Search Engine Optimization is done to optimize your website for search engines. Once the website is crawled and indexed, leads start flowing organically. A content-first design delivers your content to the right audience at the right time.

A content-first design prioritizes not only your brand value and identity but also optimizing your websites for SEO. In simple terms, content-first designs are SEO-centralized approaches to building websites. The end product would be a website that is arranged and built for maximum optimization.

All the SEO experts in the world cannot save your website if it was not built with a long-term SEO strategy in mind.

Influences Web Design In a Positive Way

Designers usually let their thinking run wild in the design-first approach. And I am not blaming them. Creativity, after all, should never be constrained. It should run free like the wild horses of Nevada.

But, when it comes to business, you have a client to satisfy and a real website to develop adhering to a deadline. Wild creativity is not good if it is not realistic. That’s where a content-first design can help you.

A content-first design can provide the content model for the designer to kickstart their work. That way the designer would have a solid idea of the brand, its values, and its virtues, which would reflect in the design. This can also help them stay conscious and produce designs that are realistic to achieve within the given timeframe.

Reduces Rework and Improves Productivity

Design-first approach prioritizes the design and development and pushes the content part to the last. What happens sometimes is that the designer might get too idealistic. Once the content is done and incorporated into the design, chaos and panic might loom for the content might not align with the design.

Or this might go the other way around. The content creator might have to constrain themselves to work in the given framework. This is not good for the SEO efforts of the business.

But, when you turn to a content-first approach the content or the content model for the website is given the first priority. That way the design is neatly organized. This in turn reduces the unnecessary rework of the design/ development and ensures the timely delivery of the project. The same applies to web development as well as mobile app development. Just imagine what would happen if you have to rework all your mobile app screens because of content change. It would feel like the end of the world. So, it is important to hire the right Mobile app development company in Chennai that builds on a content-first approach.

Enhances Consistency Across the Website

One of the biggest nightmares of content marketers is bounce rates. The bounce rate is equated directly to the quality of the content. The Content-first design format prioritizes the quality of the content and incorporates it into the design rather than compromising.

With a Content-first approach, you wouldn’t be producing content blindly. Instead, there will be relevancy and consistency maintained throughout the website. The content that is produced in the past is used and quoted in the content produced in the future and so on and so forth. This not only improves the user experience but also helps with ranking the website since search engine crawlers rank and weigh websites that are consistent and relevant.

Helps in Creating a Mobile-Friendly Website

It comes as no surprise that over half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices. Mobile devices are small in terms of both price and size. And they are faster in terms of accessibility. (Common, we never go to our laptop or desktop for a simple search or purchase these days.) It gives you access to everything at your fingertips. 

Traditional websites were painful to use on mobile devices. As the user base of mobile devices improved, businesses and organizations had to comply with the user’s preferences and create websites/web apps that are easy to use on mobile devices. Websites that are not optimized for mobile devices are going to lose out on capturing potential customers. 

For creating a website that provides a mobile-friendly experience, content-first design is the go-to methodology. Content-first design gives priority to elements that are compatible with all kinds of devices, platforms, and browsers. Or a minimal design of the website that displays only the important elements for mobile devices can also be designed. This way mobile users are not left out while providing a great user experience to them.

In conclusion, a content-first design can help you ensure that your website is designed and developed to provide the intended value to the intended audience. However, as said before a content-first design doesn’t require the entire content to be ready before design, it just needs the content model. Always hire a Web development company that follows and focuses on content-first design, so that you can relax and focus on other important aspects of your business.

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