Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is decoration. ~Jeffrey Zeldman
Have you just started thinking about your design process for building your website or reached a point where you know you need to make significant changes to it? Is your marketing going to be driven by content? If so, I recommend reading this article by John Moore Williams before making any firm design decisions.
John is the Head of Content Strategy for Webflow. In his article he explains why you should start your designs with content, or at least a little content planning.
The simple diagrams show how the nature of the content you plan to use on your website influences how it should be designed to achieve specific benefits. The example is based on creating a food magazine but applies equally to health and business topics and many other types of educational content as well.
I found the piece thought-provoking and especially liked how he explains content modelling:
Creating a content model for your site is like creating a sitemap, but focuses not on pages, but rather on content types and their characteristics. It’s incredibly useful in helping you map out content types, their relationships, and requirements, but will also help you develop your site’s overall information architecture.
We can all benefit from this!
The timing was perfect since I’m redoing my own website this year. As a first step, I’m looking closely at our content library and categories. Then I’ll map out my list of functional requirements. From there, it’ll be on to the creative aspects.
Not everyone in the SMARTSTART community builds and maintains their own website (though several of you do). But just about everyone is doing some form of content marketing to promote their business. It makes me sad when you tell me you’ve spent thousands of dollars on website designs that are either completely outdated or simply are not going to work for the type of business you are marketing online. Such tragedies are completely avoidable.
So, for that reason alone, it is worth reading and considering the points raised in John’s article so you can collaborate effectively with your own web designers. It can help you avoid making expensive mistakes when designing your website and will give your content marketing a better chance at making a positive impact on your target audience.
More next time. Until then, remember to LOVE YOUR WORK, whatever it may be.
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