Design Brief: Start With Content
It's been four years since you hired your (insert family member here who does web design on the side to pay for extra taquitos in college) to update your website. And it worked well! You had skin in the digital game, you were promoting and marketing online, and you left your site to its own devices to do what it did best; work as a digital storefront while you manned the brick and mortar. But you've seen the changes in the digital marketplace, the mobile-responsive needs, and you're ready to start your much needed redesign to give your business a little facelift. Kudos for taking that step. So, where do you start?
"Make It Look Good! If You Give Us a Design, We Can Add Content Later"
If only we had a dollar for every time we heard this. But don't worry, this is overall sentiment in most of our clients across the board, because it's been the prevailing idea behind web design for so long. Build it and they will come. Unfortunately, you can't just build a shiny exterior, ignore the foundation, and hope for the best anymore. The visual design is not even the most important thing to consider when starting a re-design project. A website is a tool to deliver a good or service to your customers, and the only way to get this message across is to deliver quality content that not only highlights what sets your particular business apart, but why people should do business with you in the first place. We could absolutely try to come up with a quirky analogy that would fit this overall thought process, but it is WAY better visualized in the 1996 classic Matilda as illustrated by Danny Devito, here.
So as you can see, content should be the primary focus from the very start of the development and throughout the life cycle of the website. Building a strong foundation, and overall flow to the website will improve the user experience, make your website easier to use and more effective for customer use, and ultimately, make you more money.
Adopting a Content First Strategy
Having a strong idea of what you want your overall messaging to be with your content not only makes your website more effective, it makes the overall design process SO MUCH EASIER. The visual design will work as a complement to your content, and will enhance the areas that you think are most important. A website with strong content dressed up with the proper modern visual components becomes the "heaviest hitter" in an effective digital marketing strategy. Your website is your home base, and if your home base it built the right way to drive sales and support your business, then the rest of your digital strategy falls in line seamlessly. Content and visual design should not be thought of as mutually exclusive; you can't design a site effectively without a solid plan for the content you plan on publishing. Before making any visual design decisions, consider the content first. If you take the time to develop and plan the content strategy ahead of time and apply modern design to enhance the content, you'll save money and endless endless hours on design changes and re-writes throughout the life cycle of the website.
So Where Do You Start?
Gather as much information as you can about your business, and highlight the important aspects that are worth promoting. Think about the services you provide, what sets you apart from your competitors, any local ties, and just highlight your story. Every business has a unique story that is waiting to be told, so tell it YOUR way. Thinking about content ahead of your design ends up saving you time in the long run, and gives your designer an easier visualization of what the end product will be. This will prevent a situation where at the end of a project, you receive a website that looks nothing like what you envisioned, and ends up costing more for more re-designs.