Designing? Make Content a Part of the Process

February 19, 2016 written by Tanya


Picture this – You’ve spent days on the design of your latest Web project. Things are finally taking shape, starting to look good. Your clients are happy, you’re happy, and everybody is almost ready to move on to the next phase. Then the content for your new site arrives, and you try to fit it into the design that you so carefully spent weeks constructing.

And now? Now, everything is a mess.

The reason this happens is simple enough to explain. Designers in the past have usually designed with ideal layouts in mind – using Lorem Ipsum, or dummy text, to serve as a placeholder. But with all the various devices of different sizes that are now accessing the web? This no longer works!

To solve this problem, the Web Industry in recent years has been pushing for a “Content-First” approach – where you get into the design only after you have planned what content the site needs.

After all, people are going to be visiting your website to primarily hear what you have to say. Only once they’ve arrived does your design join centre-stage.

As someone who works with web content, however, I’ve found that another solution exists which seems to work better – designers and content planners working together to build a site, rather than taking up isolated roles.

Why do we need this, you ask?

Content strategists and writers need visual direction to make sure their message has the biggest impact. Designers need to know what it is that their layouts are going to hold, and plan for the best way for users to find what they are looking for.


So now, how do you start?


  1. To begin with, meet the team

If you’re a Designer, you’re going to want to meet the Content people. This is very important, as both of you will be responsible for defining the purpose of the site.

Depending on the project, you will either be collaborating with Strategists on your own team, ones that belong to your Client’s company, or an external agency.

If you’re a Content Writer, insist on being at the kick-off meeting for the project. It is necessary for both – you and the Designers – to have all the information you need to make the site the best it can be for its users.

  1. Define a purpose

Answer questions such as, why are you creating this site? What problem is it hoping to solve for the user? What information will they be looking for? What are the ways you can guide them to the solutions they need?

Every decision made on the project should be a reflection of this purpose.

  1. Know your audience

Understand everything you possibly can about your audience. How do they search for information? How do they digest it? What tone and atmosphere will they feel most comfortable with?

Keep in mind that the website you are creating serves to fulfill the users needs first. The needs of the Client and the rest of the team come into the picture only after you have found a way to keep your target audience happy.

  1. Collaborate

Talk to all the members of your team, and try to understand what they do. Try out new ways of approaching a problem by using a combination of their skills and yours. Learn how things work for them, and push the boundaries of how you tackle your own tasks.

In Conclusion

You will soon realise that the quality of your own work increases drastically when you know exactly who is going to be working with your data next, and what they are going to use it for.

Go forth and amaze.