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Website Marketing: Why Content Comes Before Design

  • By Cathy Goodwin
  • Published 09/21/2009
  • Writing for the Web
  • Rating: blueratingfull-2530090blueratingfull-2530090blueratingfull-2530090blueratingfull-2530090blueratingfull-2530090 Unrated

Online business owners often say things like, “I need to get my design completed before I work on my website content.” Or sometimes they meet a web development professional who promises, “We will work on design and copywriting at the same time. Design and content have to work together. It is important to realize that “design and content” are not related in the same way as “chicken and egg” puzzles. We’ve all heard the question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” This question illustrates a dilemma where we can never find the answer. But when you ask, “Which comes first – copy or design?” there is a clear, straightforward answer. Expert designers, copywriters and marketing strategists will tell you, “Content comes first. Write your copy – headline, opening, paragraphs, bullets and close – before you begin the design work.” ”

The truth is, you will save both time and money when you create your content before the design. You can’t even work on copy and design at the same time. What if the design folks come up with a great visual and your friendly copywriters argue that this beautiful graphic bears no relation to your strategy? Or what if a new

idea emerges as you develop content? Often the act of writing content will turn up an angle you haven’t considered before. This new idea may turn out to be the cornerstone of your message. Yet if you have invested big bucks in an elaborate design, it’s tempting to ignore this new, more powerful insight. Here is just one example. Let’s say you are a dentist. You get a terrific graphic featuring cosmetic dentistry. Your designer creates a gorgeous graphic featuring women who look like models, smiling widely. And then you work with your copywriter or content strategist. You realize you would do better to position yourself as a dentist who specializes in fixing up teeth after athletic injuries. Or you realize you have some cosmetic patients but your real profit center comes from patients with medical problems, such as heart disease or diabetes; in fact, you get most referrals from medical doctors who don’t want a dentist to kill their patient to save a wisdom tooth.

What are you going to do about the graphic with the lovely models? Or the logo that relates to shiny teeth for a new romance? Back to the drawing board (literally). When you begin with content, you save huge amounts of time and get significant results faster.



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