Well you’d probably expect to hear that from a Copywriter and the same is true of SEO experts, but how often are new websites designed with ‘content to follow’? Most clients are driven by the desire to have a funky looking site. However, pushing ahead without considering what information that site will contain can often leave them with a nice looking advert rather than an enticing and interactive website that will better drive new sales.

So the majority of websites are designed with the stomach-churning “Lorem ipsum…” text, with the real content forced in at a later date. The problem is this may be several weeks into the design process and far too often the client hasn’t even really considered the precise content until after the designer has created a site-map, wire-frames and mock-up.

Once the content is delivered, invariably there is far more content than anticipated in the original design or just as bad much less, leading to ‘padding’ or non-essential content being included to fit the design. In worse case scenarios the client may even request additional pages to be included, throwing out navigation systems, site-maps and affecting the complete user-experience.

Content really should be King when designing a website. Content for a modern site is not just text either. Clients may be considering graphics, video, audio, even various feeds from Twitter accounts, blogs etc. The designer needs to know about these from the outset, particularly if rich content is going to be required as it may determine the platform used to host the site.

From a sales success point of view, design should be seen as complimenting the content. A client should know the message they want to get across. SEO advice will influence their choice of text and realistically how the site looks will not affect search engine rankings greatly. Essentially the message needs to be set-out and decided upon before true design gets underway.

Like making a cake, the ingredients (content) are essential to creating the finished product and they can then be tidied up and presented with icing, decoration etc. In addition, once the ingredients are set there may be a number of ways of cooking and combining them. Being a designer is about everything after the ingredients have been decided upon.

Of course a good designer is aware of what makes good colour choices and nice graphics but they are also able to help organise content and how the site is put together. Design includes structuring the customer journey and to do that you need to know what content you are driving them through and to.

Clients then, need to be educated about the importance of content, that Content is King. This means designers need to be firm with them. Presenting a dummy text mock-up will not give a true representation of the final look of a site. It is a false economy for designers to follow that route as far too frequently it results in clients coming back requiring design tweaks once the final copy is inputted.

So the next time you set-out to design a site or instruct somebody else to remember for the best results: Content is King. Do you agree?