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Content vs. Design: where to start?

Web Design,Freelance,Business
contents before design
Photo by Sarah Halliday on Unsplash

Usually, we work on the visual before the contents and not the other way around (contents before design), that is to say, we establish the wireframe before adding content adapted to the visual. Do you want to know what happens if we create the contents first, and then we adapt the layout according to them?

A recent experiment on pre-design content

For one of my last projects, I hired a copywriter ; a person who writes different pages of a website in order to convert prospects into customers. It's true that I already had some ready-made layouts, but we had to revise some of them according to the story being told.

As a copywriter, she focuses mainly on words. So she gave me a pretty basic structure: a word document among other things, in a table format.

There is a YouTube video in which I describe this at the bottom of the article. Support me by subscribing to the YouTube channel "Happy Desk Design".

contents before design
Photo by Kathryn Aleksa on Unsplash

So, if one day, I happen to work with a copywriter again, I have a new process(content before design):

  • I establish the basic structure of each page of the site. Since it will have to be redesigned once the contents are established, I don't spend too much time on it. I only take into account the client's recommendations. When I give him a first draft, I tell him that the layout may change a little.
  • As you probably know, I used to work on Figma. Its advantage lies in the fact that it is a collaborative platform.
  • To facilitate the work of the copywriter, Figma allows me to share my projects. He/she can easily get an idea of the story I want or the client wants.
  • The copywriter will then take this into account when making small changes.

Although this is my first collaboration with a copywriter, I found it to be a pure success! The secret? Just be open-minded, accept the few changes your collaborator will eventually make to the initial project.

contents before design
Photo by Kathryn Aleksa on Unsplash

Making content before design: advantages or disadvantages?

Content and visuals are equally important. If words convince readers and persuade them to perform a specific action(CTA), visuals touch them even more. They help users to have a clearer vision.

However, the copywriter has his own marketing strategy, just like us, web designers. Don't you think that by combining these two expertises, the sites you design for your clients will be even more effective? These two expertises are obviously complementary.

Let me give you some facts:

  • If marketers have an annoying tendency to use too many CTAs, designers remedy that. They take the time to study where to place each CTA, not to mention its other visual features.
  • While some people also believe that the larger the header, the more attractive it is, this is not necessarily the case. In fact, it all depends on the target audience. Especially since a very large header, according to other designers, only delays access to the real content.
  • But obviously, only copywriters have the right words!
contents before design
Photo by Outcast India on Unsplash


By working together (the copywriter on the content and the web designers on the visual, and therefore: content before design), we will find a better solution for the readers! The solution being obviously in accordance with the requirements of marketing and user experience.

Come back to this page whenever you want. Did you find any ideas that I forgot? If so, what are they? Leave a comment below or send an email to hello@happydesk.be
Kevin Palombo, Manager of Happydesk
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