Thinking of creating a new or redesigned website? While this can be a great way for companies to boost their online presence, many times they will end up filling it with the same outdated or even worse, rushed, content. What they have done, essentially, is "putting the cart before the horse."

While the creative can make your site appealing to customers, after the shiny "newness" wears off, your website has to offer something that keeps your visitors sticking around, and more importantly, coming back. Here’s why it’s important to take a content first approach to web design.

What Happens When You Don't Put Content First

The reason you’re redesigning a website isn’t purely cosmetic. The messaging is no longer working. Your website copy could be outdated or missing new information. Perhaps it isn’t resonating toward the right audience, resulting in half-baked content that will never convert your visitors into customers.

The reality is when you don’t design for content, the web developer won’t have a solid understanding of your content or objectives. This causes major delays in your website launch date and even cause you to end up with a content management system (CMS) that doesn't do exactly what you need it to do. Furthermore, with no content, the SEO team won’t be able to optimize your website to perform well in the search engines and boost traffic to the new site.

Before You Start The Website Design Process

Designing a website before you have determined your website copy severely limits its ability to be effective. The content should be increasing your online visibility, attracting and engaging your audience, and, ultimately, converting them into loyal customers for your brand. When reviewing and creating content, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who are you talking to? Consider your current customer base and determine the shared qualities of the best ones. How were they closed as customers? What type of information helped build, support, and close that relationship.
  • What are your website objectives? Be very specific and don't stop at "to drive more traffic." Your website goals should help achieve your general business objectives. Determine what needs to happen for visitors to take actions that contribute to sales, revenue and customer retention.
  • What are common questions or challenges among your customers? Think about all the questions your customer service or sales teams receive. Those answers are where to start developing content for your site that will address the issues your visitors consider the most important.
  • What content do you have already? Evaluate your existing pieces of content and determine the site pages, blog posts, and copy that your audience finds valuable or that drives conversion.

Put Content First

It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of a website design project, but resist the temptation to believe a new design or piece of functionality will cure what ailed your previous website. Your newly created website won’t succeed without having the right content in place first, so it’s often best to work with a content strategy and copywriter as part of your overall web design team. (If you’re in need of a content team, just give us a call!)

Oh, and after the project launches, don't short-change the SEO either (because that's another thing a new design can't fix). But that's another blog post for another day