Content or Design?

Starting Your Own Website? Content Or Design First?

Making the decision to start a website can be very exciting, but also a daunting task for business professionals and web designers alike. For the business person, they are good at what they do. No matter what that might be, that is the reason they are in business. The typical business tends to go to a professional design team to put together their website or to update or upgrade their existing one.

This is where you, the IT professional comes into play with a content writer (usually an IT pro) and a design team. The problems that a businessman or woman might encounter are the same ones that you have to work out and make the project a reality. In order for the project to go smoothly, you must look at the project as a series of steps that all have to be taken in order to succeed. Now that we have a basic idea, ask yourself the big question: What comes first, the content or the design?

A typical web development team will have content writers and design professionals and each camp will want their particular specialty to be at the forefront in terms of importance. As a project manager, it is your job to move the project forward with the proper emphasis on areas that are vital to the overall success of the entire project while keeping the peace with your teams.

Start off with a simple strategy after the first meeting with your client. Make a list of the primary goals of your client in order of the importance they put on them. After you have done that, make a list using the same priorities in order of how important they are to you as you move forward with the project. What is the customer going to use the web site to promote? Are they selling a product or a service? Is the product/service being sold on a price basis or on a quality basis? What is their target audience in terms of demographics? These are all vital things to take into consideration and also shape what is going to come first, the content or the design.

Gather your two teams in one meeting and outline what you have come up with so far, paying particular attention to the aspects that each group would be interested in based on their specialty. Let your content writers know what the focus of the content will be. Give them a direction to take the content with specific ideas and goals to meet as well as a timeline. Next, give your design team direction on how to proceed. Share with them the typical target customer that will be going to the site and what they expect in terms of colors, graphics, ease of use etc.

Combine the best ideas of both working groups into a working prototype website that the customer can look at and use in your office or at theirs. Get their reaction and input on both the design and the content. Take any changes or criticism in stride and make any changes necessary in order to fulfill what is desired. Remember that no successful website can be created without content first and design second and that personal egos of members of either team do not pay the bills, your customer does.

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