Great websites are a blend of engaging written content and dynamic, exciting design, and they should work beautifully hand in hand.
They should combine to give each site visitor a hassle-free, memorable experience and tell the stories and fulfil the specific functions that make your website unique.
However, just because good copy and design should work together doesn’t mean they should be created together. Here are 7 ways that writing copy first might just increase your productivity throughout the web design project.
#1: Define Your Aim, Not Your Look
Before the copy or the design comes the aim. Initially, this might be an impulse or a functional idea. Importantly, moving from this phase into writing the content gives you the chance to work through your site’s goals and to clarify your message.
Your written content needs to have strategical focus and purpose. So, take the time to plan copy that defines your goals before you commit to the design phase. If your message is clear from the start, then visitors to your site (and the search engines that drive them there) will be clear too.
#2: Get It Right From The Start
Your content is key to all the other elements of your site, from architecture to design, so build your site around the content. This makes the whole process cost and time effective. You won’t be continually changing the structure and function of your pages if you plan your copy first.
If you’re working with a designer, getting the copy right at the beginning will mean you can focus on achievable deadlines. If you’re working with a copywriter, they’ll be able to dig deeply into your brand narrative, USP and ideas, generating copy that a designer can use with confidence.
#3: Good Copy Leads To Great Design
Fitting your words into an existing template sounds convenient. In reality, the outcome will always be less effective than allowing design to be generated from your original copy. The look of your site is defined by its purpose and putting design first can handicap and limit the creative, imaginative reach of your content. And that’s not good for your visitors or your sales.
A good designer can edit or rearrange your copy and develop a design that works with and enhances your text. It’s hard to do this the other way around.
#4: Review Copy Easily
If you create your copy before your design, you’ll find it easier to review and edit. Working from a traditionally laid-out document rather than a fully designed page makes checking for accuracy, message and vocabulary much simpler. You can identify where your goals for each page are being met and where the flow and language need altering.
Less is more when it comes to copy, and it’s easier to see how different sections or paragraphs of your site are over-written in a document than on the finished site. Plus, you’ll need fewer revisions once you reach the design stage, saving you time and money.
#5: Form Follows Function
If design comes before copy, your finished site won’t be as authentic or effective as it could be. Additionally, if the copy comes first, it gives you the opportunity to make sure that the functionality of your site is fit for purpose. With the copy established, you’ll understand whether you need to add elements like user forums, links, social networking tools or media and video galleries.
Most importantly, establishing the copy first will influence the style and tone of the design of your site, engaging visitors on a visual and experiential level.
#6: Be Visitor-Focused
What you want from your site and what you want a visitor to experience are two different things. You might want to draw a visitor to a certain page or product, and the visitor might want the answer to a question or to be entertained. By defining the copy before the design, you can ensure that your site is visitor-focused and that it works on both of these levels.
A good-looking site is great, but if it doesn’t work for you and your visitors equally well, then both time and money have been wasted.
#7: Design Engages, Words Sell
Your website is all about conversion. The higher the conversion rate, the more traffic, sales or income. Whilst the design will engage your visitors, it will be the content that sells your products or ideas, so plan your sales funnels, downloadable content, CTA’s and sitemap before you pick a font or an image.
You wouldn’t fold your wrapping paper before buying a present, and the same principle applies to writing your copy first. Know what you are selling and then work out how to sell it.
Getting your content written before your website is designed takes a little longer, and involves a bit more work, but it’s always worth doing. It forces you to clarify your aims, get your services and products ready and your messaging properly identified. By putting the words first, you’re far more likely to get the website you want, and the success your business or organisation deserves.