Why It’s Important To Plan Content Before Designing Your Website

by Yaritsa Arenas | Branding + Design, Creative Business, Web Design

The first thing everyone wants to talk about is what their branding and website are going to look like. What colors they like, what sites they want to emulate and where the images will go. But planning your site content is a must before you start design work on your website. And not just gathering your content, but strategically planning what feeling you want to convey to your audience and what message you want to get across.

Why It’s Important To Plan Content Before Designing Your Website

I recently started being stricter about requiring site content before I start any design project. The main reason being that waiting for content from my clients was the biggest cause of launch delays. Often times clients come to me sooo excited to begin design and they “have an idea” of what their text will be, they “just have to write it down”. So no problem, I can see they’re working on it, let’s start, right? Well, it doesn’t always work out quite as well as you’d think.

What is site content anyway?

Site content refers to all the text, images, videos, audio files, etc. that will be on your site. The text for your bio page, your headshots, any downloadable files you might offer, call-to-action text… Content helps communicate your message, values and offerings to anyone visiting your website. That’s why it’s important it be at the forefront of your launch strategy and not an afterthought.

Here are a few reasons having your content in good shape is critical to an effortless launch:

Web content affects design and layout
Is your site an informational site with lots of long articles? Does it have primarily images and a few paragraphs here and there? In order for me to layout the site in a way that best fits what you’re wanting to share, it’s important to know up-front what to make room for. If we design based on 2-3 paragraphs and 1 image, it can look quite different than 8-10 paragraphs and no visuals.

Your brand personality and message set the tone for your design
Are you silly and quirky? We can add some fun elements to your site to give it that energy. Are you talking to a corporate audience? Then we want a more professional, polished look. Seeing how you speak to your audience allows us to make sure your text and visuals align.

Copywriting is actually harder than you think
Unless you’re an experienced copywriter or it just comes supernaturally to you, you’ll likely go through a few iterations of what you want to say. And when you’re writing about yourself, it’s even harder! You tend to become more attached to the copy being “perfect”. If you’re writing content yourself, make sure you allow yourself designated copywriting time so it’s not left to last minute. Or better yet, if you can budget for it, hire a copywriter!

It’s not just about gathering content, it’s important to plan your strategy

Before you even gather photos and start writing your text, stop and get really clear on what you’re looking for your brand and site to reflect about yourself and your business. What pages are important to have on your site? How do the pages flow from one to the next? You might even need to go as far back as getting clarity on who your ideal client is and what you’re offering them. The more clarity you have on who your person is, the easier it will be to craft text that will speak to them, and the easier they can connect with what you’re saying. In a sea of people vying for attention, it’s important that you stand out from your competition. Here are a few things to ask yourself:

But how do I know how much to write if I don’t know what the site will look like?

Let’s face it, when someone is ready to launch a website, they’ve done a fair amount of research on what they like and what their competition is doing. You already have a general sense of what and how much they are writing. And while the goal is not to copy what others are doing, you can use that as a starting point. If you see others in your field are very wordy and you don’t like that? Do it differently! The point is, you have to give these things thought. The last thing you want is to have a site designed and when you actually start to write your copy or take your headshots, it all feels misaligned and you now have to spend money on additional revisions.

Don’t stress out though! Ideally, you want final content ready before starting your design, but if you have a tight draft, you can make one final pass at edits when you QA the site for launch as long as they’re minor copy changes (depending on what’s been agreed upon with your designer, of course). You don’t want to hand-in a 3 paragraph bio and suddenly change it to a 10 paragraph manifesto. AND worst case, you can always make minor copy tweaks yourself once the site is handed over.

So are you saying I now have to hire a brand strategist, a copywriter and a web designer?!

No, that’s not what I’m saying necessarily. If it helps you and you have the budget, go for it! What I am saying, is that it’s important that you give your content some thought before diving into design and website launch. Whether you hire an expert or DIY, spend some time figuring out what your values are, who your ideal client is and what message you want to get across. From that starting point, you can write your web copy and gather any additional site content.

Need help figuring it out?

Don’t worry, I wouldn’t write this post and just leave you hanging. Join my Creative Resource Library, where I’ll be sharing useful worksheets, templates and additional resources available only to tribe members! You can download my top 2 worksheets: Defining Your Brand & Business and the Stress-Free Launch Website Planning Guide, which will help you with the strategy portion of developing your personal brand.

And of course, if you’d like to discuss a project, feel free to reach out!

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