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Should you Design your Website first or finalize the Web Copy?

What comes first?

Website design and development or copywriting for your website?


Website designers and developers go wrong with this. Even web content writers are naïve to understand this.


What happens is (not always, but often), when a business owner or anyone who wants a website connects with website developers, they are shown a handful themes or layouts to go through and they select one for their website.


Once the theme of the website is finalized, it is sent to the website designer and (s)he starts working on this.


When there is web copy required for the website, the same theme is sent to the writer as well, and they both are asked to work for this.


Now, Here is the thing I want your attention to.


This is fine with the perspective of a web designer, as they have to create a similar kind of design from scratch. But when it comes to the copy perspective. This could be a mistake. A serious mistake. It kills the performance of the writer. It results in a dull copy.


I have summarized the reasons in two folds.

The first reason,


The writer doesn't have enough context and information about what to write.


You might say the business documents are sent to the writer and some other references like links to competitors websites are sent, but that's never sufficient to start with.


Writers don't need a lot of information about the business, they can figure that out themselves. What they need to know is a clear goal and perspective of the business owner.


Which means different aspects about their business like Unique Selling Points (USP), the target audience, their demographics, tone to be used and a lot more things like that (Saving that for another day).


My LinkedIn friend Shreya has a good analogy for this. She says the content creation is a team project even with one content writer, the other player in the team is a client, and the client has to be involved in the writing process.


This could be done by sending out a detailed questionnaire or a good meeting between the two team players.


The Second big reason to avoid designing the website before developing the copy is,


The web copy is not in the right flow, it is restricted because of the design.


I believe this is more dreadful than the first reason, at least with the first reason, the writer proceeds by some kind of assumptions and his perspective of the business.


When a writer is given a theme and asked to “replace” content, it is like putting a full stop to the creativity and the flow, doing more harm than good to the website.


(s)he starts to think accordingly. The writer might be planning to have a call to action at the end, but is forced to somehow get that done midway through. Sometimes a testimonial would look good in the middle but the writer is forced to go with the design requirements.


The length of the copy varies as per the industry and target audience. With less attention span of youth as target audience the homepage of the website is supposed to be with minimal copy. There are other industries and target audiences where long sales letters work wonders.


Following the design for copy could either make the writer drop off important stuff or include pointless stuff.


This delays the process of taking action for the prospect, which could even kill the tension built in the first place.


There should be a clear and transparent sync between the three - the business owner, copywriter and website developer.