Content-First vs Design-First Approach

Content-First vs Design-First Approach

There are typically two design strategies that are considered when going through a website redesign. A design-first approach prioritizes the creative elements that are desired over the assets that will live on the site. Meanwhile, a content-first approach takes the assets you plan to have and builds the design around them. Both methods can lead to a polished website when it’s all said and done, but is there an approach that is more efficient? Speak has utilized both strategies during redesigns through the years, and there is a clear winner in this debate.

What Is A Design-First Approach?

A design-first approach takes the client’s brand, their audience, their goals, and dives right into what design elements and style will best complement those. The layout is imagined with placeholder text and stock images. Think of it this way, you are shopping for a new home and all the ones you are exploring have staged furniture in them. How your furniture will look in this new house is all imagined until it’s time to move in. What’s nice about an approach like this is that we can dive right into the fun side of the project. 

Most clients tend to have a preconceived idea that a redesign starts with the design and that’s what they are mentally prepared for when things kick off. While jumping into the design is exciting, we have noticed flaws with this approach that can really derail the excitement closer to launch. Going back to the house buying example I mentioned above — what happens when you finally place all of your furniture in your new home, and the feeling you had when seeing the staged house isn’t the same? There is something about your furniture that just isn’t doing it for you and now you think to yourself should you get new furniture? Or maybe some remodeling might do the trick? Either solution is valid, and they both have one thing in common: more time (and potentially budget) will be needed in order to get this living situation to your liking. Sometimes you might end up getting lucky and a design-first approach might work out on time and on budget, but honestly, there is more risk involved with this approach.

What Is A Content-First Approach?

At Speak, our very first meeting with clients after we kick things off is all about sitemap development and content strategy. While the design of a site might seem like it’s the site’s foundation it’s really more of a container for the assets you plan to have on the site. The sitemap is the true foundation of a site, and the content is what speaks to your audience. A content-first approach takes the assets you plan to display on the site and builds the design around them. Keep in mind, the client’s brand, target audience, and goals are still very much integrated in this approach, the only difference is that now we have tangible assets to work with. 

Sounds great, right? Why would we even consider a design-first approach when building the design around your content is clearly the most logical option? Well, the main caveat to a content-first approach is that the content may not be ready at this stage and will take some time to produce. The way we see it, it’s better to take the time and write out all of your pages of content because there will be fewer hiccups on our way to launch. Plus, who says you have to write all the content yourself? I happen to know some amazing folks that can assist with content creation. 

Which Approach Is The Most Efficient?

If you have been paying attention above, you can see that a content-first approach is Speak’s go-to strategy for design. While it might not be the most exciting thing at the beginning of a project, content is too valuable to not be involved in the design process. We want to know what kind of voice you plan to have in your messaging vs having the design dictate how your messaging needs to be worded so that everything fits together. Putting together content is no easy task. We understand the time content takes,  but if you are willing to put in the hard work at the beginning of the project everything else will fall into place. You will walk away feeling proud and accomplished with the entire process, and that’s exactly the type of client experience we strive to create.

Let’s Chat

This is just a small taste of what it’s like to partner with Speak. If you found this useful and are in need of a website redesign yourself drop us a line, we’d love to chat.

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Posted by Adam Kalwas at 08:48
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