What Comes First? Web Design or Content?


If you ask a web designer, a creative director, and a copywriter whether they would prefer to begin a web design project with content or design, you are likely to get different responses. In a matter of seconds, website visitors scan content before digging in or clicking out. Your website must appeal to your target audience. What type of information are they looking for? Why should they come to you for help? What matters most in their world? Maintaining a sharp focus on these concerns will create additional opportunities for engagement.

Why should content come first?

Lime_ContentvsWeb_april17.jpegUnfortunately, a breathtaking web design will not impact your rank in search results. Before you can impress your audience,you need to get them to your website.

Google’s algorithms strongly favor content that is unique and presents original ideas, which closely relates to content marketing which is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. Because this method has proven to be an effective marketing tool that satisfies Google’s cravings, it is imperative that your website design project be focused on content.


Everyone loves a story

When you demonstrate that you understand your target audience,you are well on your way to convincing them you have what they need. Consistently publishing useful and entertaining content keeps visitors engaged, encourages content sharing, and increases the likelihood your offerings will be considered when they make a purchase.


Tailor-made conversion paths

Once you have gotten your visitors’ attention, your design elements and structure should amplify your content and guide them to conversion in a natural way. To address their range of needs, imagine your target audience as specific types of buyers, or buyer personas,  which are fictional characters developed through market research that represent your ideal customers. Once you define who you are speaking to, you can develop a conversion path for each persona.


Exceptional Web design

LIME_contentvsweb2_april17.jpegHow can you ensure your website design is exceptional? The layout, typography, color scheme, and imagery must complement your message, engage your personas, and initiate action. Let’s examine how each of these elements impact web design.


  • Layout – Perhaps the most important design decision is the layout. A professional web designer can help you select a layout for your website that will appeal to your personas. It is also very important that the design be responsive so that it will be an effective marketing tool on any size of display
  • Content – Craft compelling headlines and use as few words as possible to convey your message. Use vocabulary familiar to your personas.                                                                                                           
  • Color – Conservative navy blue or cool, refreshing sea green? The average age, gender, industry, and position of your personas will provide guidance for your ideal color scheme. 
  • Typography – Add flavor to your message with traditional typefaces like Times Roman or stylized fonts like Impact but be sure that they display properly on any device or browser.
  • Imagery – Your photographs, illustrations, and/or videos should echo your core messaging and blend with your colors. Select imagery that will work with your responsive design.


Web design process

Publishing a website involves developing content, planning the layout, selecting imagery, colors, and fonts, and putting it all together in a way that appeals to your target audience. If the resulting web design hits the mark, does the process really matter? Yes, it most certainly does.

Beginning with design instead of content guarantees that it will go through multiple rounds of revision to increase and decrease word counts, include, exclude, reposition, and resize multiple elements. The vision you had in mind will be a distant memory. You’ve been there. It’s not pretty.


When web design begins with content development, the team finalizes the tone and emphasis before any design decisions are made. The design team can focus on conveying the message in a way that appeals to the target audience, engages visitors, and provides a natural path to conversion. That is exceptional web design (without the headache).

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