Website Content is a Key Part of Website Design

Begin With Website Content

Developing a new website? Updating an existing site? I want to suggest something that might be a radical departure from traditional thinking: get your website content figured out before you talk to a web designer.

More often than not, website development begins with a web designer. Most people begin with a vision and some absolutes for their website. The resulting development focuses more on the look and performance of the site. Content becomes a secondary concern in many cases.

However, I propose that website content is every bit as important as the visual design, and in fact, you should begin the design process there.

website content is a big part of web design

Content Before Design

A website can be a little like a Swiss Army knife for your company’s marketing. Consider the multiple functions it can serve:

  • Digital storefront
  • Customer service forum
  • Informational guide
  • Point of contact
  • Lead generation
  • …so much more!

A website can grow and change with your business needs in ways that a printed brochure cannot. It can have any number of pages. Each of these pages can have yet more pages nested under them. All of them will need content.

Knowing how you want your website to perform is incredibly important. How it interacts with your customers will be critical to its success. The content that your visitors find on your site is central to that interaction.

Web designers might take issue with me saying this, but when you approach a website design from the content side, it helps the design process. By focusing on your website content, you can help your web designer to build a site that meets your visitors’ needs. Instead of building pages then attempting to fill them with content, approaching the process with content already planned allows you to develop only the pages you need.

Start with Your Audience

Your website should lead your visitors on a journey with a defined outcome. How you determine what a conversion is on your site will depend on factors that are unique to your goals.

That means you must spend some time carefully considering your audience. Who are your current customers? Who do you want to become your customers? What characteristics do they have? How will you address their pain points? What kind of content will these individuals need in order to become your customers? How will they find the information they need to make a decision?

If you have an existing website, examine the performance of your site with Google Analytics. Poorly performing pages might not need to be included in the redesign, or may need to be rewritten. Common questions you receive can trigger an FAQ page or a page devoted to a particular topic.

It’s not necessary to have every word written before design begins. An outline of content, based on visitor needs, will help your designer to create a site that best serves your audience.

What Does Your Customer Need to Know?

You might want your customer to know all about how and when your business was founded, or what your company’s mission statement says, or the philosophy behind your product. There’s nothing wrong with sharing that information, but it might not be what your customer cares about.

Finding that sweet spot between what your customer needs and what you want to tell them is what content is all about.

Truth be told, you probably don’t need to provide an extensive company history on your website. As for mission statements, few people will choose to do business with you based solely on what it says.

So focus instead on providing the information that people need to make the decision to do business with you.

A Confession

I come from the Lorem Ipsum tradition of content creation.

Lorem Ipsum is popular with web designers and graphic artists because it allows them to drop placeholder text into a design, to be filled in later with actual words. (Sidebar: the term Lorem Ipsum is derived from a piece of Latin text, written by Cicero in 45 B.C.)  This concept is known as “dummy text” or “Greeking,” and can be useful in the right context. A design with dummy text shows you the designer’s concept for the visual portion of the project. In my ad agency days, I often received design concepts filled with dummy text and had to work to fit the space with content. It wasn’t always an ideal situation and sometimes the actual content made the design look different.

In traditional advertising and marketing, the visual presentation is often the primary consideration. However, coming at it from this angle can be limiting with regard to your website content. One of the wonderful things about marketing your company digitally is that you have a platform for telling your company story. There are no limits to length as there are with traditional print media.

For me, this is great news. It means that the content can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the design. It moves the role of content creator from supporting player to cast member.

Ready for a New Website?

Lieberman Technologies designs and develops websites for businesses of all types. All of them need content. Whether you use your own content or entrust that task to us, make no mistake – the words you use are very important to the overall success of your site. Consider the story you want to tell online, and create content that will give your customers what they need to do business with you. By putting content first, you might be surprised to find that everything else falls into place.