Which comes first – the words or the design?

Close-up of rooster with red crown

I get asked this question all the time – so I’m going to darned well answer it. And a few other web content questions while I’m at it…

Content or design – what needs doing first?
I’ve worked with many lovely web designers. One of their biggest gripes? Twiddling their fingers waiting for the words. Sure, they can make a start on ideas, but until they get the content they can’t really get cracking. And my own gripe? Having my words shoehorned into a design that doesn’t fit. I mean, it’s not the designer’s fault – how were they to know it wasn’t going to work when they didn’t have the words! For the perfect pairing of content and design, chat to your copywriter first. 

How long’s the content going to take?
Good question – and one you should definitely ask because the web designer’s going to need to know too so they can organise their schedule. I usually say around 2-4 weeks. Four weeks? Yep, maybe a month, maybe less. Here’s the thing – do you want it fast or do you want it fabulous? Because I don’t do quickies, I do quality. And any decent copywriter will say the same.

What exactly are you doing in that time?
OK – so here’s how it’s going to go down. First off, I’m going to do a shed load of research. I’ll be checking out your current website, if you have one, your blogs and your social media stuff so I can start building up a picture of your business. I’ll also be getting clued-up on your industry and poking around to see what your competitors are doing.  Then I’ll put together my questions so you can fill in the blanks at our meeting.

Meeting? Now we’re talking!
Yes, well, it’ll be you doing most of the talking. The more you talk, the more I’ll find out about you and your business. I love it when clients are chatty. Once they start nattering, they really open up about their business and end up spilling the kind of interesting detail that sets them apart from the competition.

You mentioned questions…
Yep, I’m really, REALLY big on questions. But don’t worry – it’s not like it’s a test or anything. Most of what I want to know is in your head. If you need to check any facts and figures, you can always email me later. And if you’re a control freak – that’s fine, me too! – I can pop you over the questions before we meet.

That’s useful. And how can I help you?
You’re sweet – thanks for asking. Best thing you can do is keep me in the loop. I once spent AGES on research only to be told by the client at our meeting that, actually, he’d dropped four of his services and was introducing two different ones. Oh, and remember you said you’d get back to me with those last little details? If you could pop them over, ta.

Want to talk web content? I’m all ears.

PHOTO: Moon Bhuyan/Pexels