What Comes First in Website Development — Design or Copy?

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An age-old question persists in the world of digital design: Which comes first in website development, design or copy? Many digital design agencies have their own workflow strategies that best meet this question. but ultimately comes down to project needs and considerations. Nevertheless, this query creates a copy first, then a design, and repeats the creation before making a copy. When considering this stance, our own digital design agency perspective suggests a healthy balance between design and copy development. Design and copy must be curated and implemented in parallel to bridge the gap that this duality introduces. Without copy, the design is just a visual layout with no clear user his journey or emotions. But without design, copy is just information without placement.

When designing or working with an agency to develop or update a new website, copy and design should complement each other. To truly achieve a productively developed website, an equilibrium must occur at the starting point. Let’s analyze how each strategy differs from the others, and how you can ultimately balance both for your next business web update.

Related: Need content or design first?

Copy first, design later

The “copy first, design second” argument stems from the idea that “content is king”. It’s a popular term in the digital design industry, but it’s often used as an overarching statement of design when it’s not always the case. Every digital product is different and requires different specifications. In web design, stakeholders may have prepared and prepared their own content. In this case, “content first, design later” works seamlessly.

Designers can take advantage of the provided content and the design around it. This allows the design team to match the tone of the design with the voice of the content and use the information provided to curate the layout. Ultimately, it gives design teams contextual thinking for navigating websites, user paths, and journeys. With the ‘lorem ipsum’ placeholder, it’s hard to fully visualize how the design is telling the story, mission, etc. of the brand, so the content conveys the pulse of the design.

But “copy first” has an Achilles heel and leaves room for wasted time. Many design agencies take the approach of allowing content writers (either stakeholders, internal teams, or freelance writers) to first curate content and then pass that information along to create a design around it. I am practicing. However, developing content takes time. Content should evoke the tone of your brand and organization, consider your SEO objectives, and allow users to navigate your site without perceived friction. Therefore, waiting for the content writer to fully compose the message slows down the process. Because designers are waiting for information on how to match the design to the tonality of the content. Pausing the design phase while developing content is not practical, especially when there are deadlines from stakeholders.

Additionally, when the writer can’t visually see the space where his copy will fit, it leaves room for error. Content When her writer’s copy is too long to fit into his layout, a lot of time is wasted editing content and back-and-forth communication.

Design first, copy later

To avoid the “copy first” error, many people adopt a “design first, content later” approach. This strategy is widely used as it helps convey the tone of the content based on the design. If your design is rich in sharp geometric shapes, electric color palettes, and flashy animations, your content can evoke confidence, determination, and perhaps an edgy vocal tonality. This prevents the writer from making the mistake of not matching the tone with the design. Writers can see what emotions are being triggered in the visual experience, streamlining the writing process. Additionally, the design he understands the layout can tell the writer how much content to create, saving time refining the content later.

However, this strategy also has drawbacks. Sometimes the writing team doesn’t work directly with the designer, which can lead to communication delays and problems sharing designs, especially if the designer is an additional hire for the project. This will impact your project pipeline. If communication breaks down, content and her writers may have to scramble to curate the copy. Moreover, the design process is iterative and constantly bound to form and change. After being presented to stakeholders, a design cluttered with lorem ipsum placeholder content can lead to confusion as to what a particular section means. Without contextual visualization, the overall experience becomes confusing when the question of what information goes where is raised.

RELATED: Use These Web Design Tricks to Grow Your Business Exponentially

Ultimately, balance is the answer

When it comes to blending design and copy, balance is ultimately the best approach to avoid duplicating issues. When a website is finalized, it is very important that design and copy development begin at the same time. Synchronizing both efforts early on ensures that your website starts off on the right footing without clutter. Design and copy are undeniably important to each other’s development. To convey the right tone and emotion, you need to collaborate, not clash.

Additionally, bringing both content and design together helps ensure that both design and copy work together to truly get tangible feedback from stakeholders. This is not to say that the content copy is completely finished. Rather, like the design, it is iteratively changed based on feedback. In the early stages of a project, copy can even seem like a clue to the purpose of each section’s content. This allows stakeholders to provide early feedback on placements without having to complete the full content. Developing content and design early is a great way to achieve productivity. Both strategies should start from the same starting line, especially at the wireframe stage if possible.

So how do you build this balance into your design strategy? First, it’s all about communication and information sharing. Communication, whether in-house, with stakeholders, or with a freelance writing team, ensures that both the design and writing teams work together. Fill out the layout wireframes or schemes early on to the content writers to give them a visual idea of ​​how much content is needed, how many headers or subheaders will be curated, and the intent of the call. The action/becomes where it leads. Communication ultimately becomes an asset when balancing these two elements of design.

RELATED: 8 Important Features Your Website Should Have

Another best practice to keep in mind when striking this balance is to ensure that the tone of your website is clearly recognizable. When the tone or voice of the copy doesn’t match the visual story experience of the digital product, the user’s cognitive response is subdued, creating friction and confusion. In addition to communicating about layout, copy and design teams need clarity on the overall tone. This can be achieved through recurring calls with stakeholders to ensure both teams are on the right track.

Copy curation is all part of the design process, but if these two practices aren’t aligned, the experience can be inconsistent. So starting early makes all the difference by starting these two processes at the same time.


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