Every website has a beginning. It normally begins with the simple thought of “I need a website,” and from there it grows. You start thinking about how you want your new site to look. You want it to blow people away when they first see it, but as the process goes on, you lose sight of the original purpose. You forget what made you have the initial thought of “I need a website.” We see this all the time, and we’re here to help.
There are three essential parts to a website: content, design, and development. They’re all equally important, but unfortunately aren’t given the same amount of attention at times that they should be given. Development is all about making the design function. Its purpose is to put all of the moving pieces together. Design is about making all of those pieces look beautiful, and content is those pieces. Without content, not only is it very hard to make a website look beautiful, but it’s also very hard to make it work the way it should.
Whether or not you may be aware of it, content is typically what causes you to have that thought of “I need a website” in the first place. The content of your site is your message. It’s what you want everyone to know, understand or find. Content is one of the, if not the, most important part of your website. It doesn’t matter how beautiful a website might be or how well it may function if there’s nothing there for people to see. A content-driven website makes the entire process from start to finish much easier.
Designing without Content First
Without content, the designer can have a much harder time trying to figure out what needs to go where, or what your site even needs to look like. If you start without content, your site is more likely to look like a template site with cookie cutter functionality. It will be a site that can work for anything or anyone — it has to be, because there’s no actual content to design around, only placeholder text and placeholder images. This doesn’t result in the kind of customization most of our clients at Infomedia are looking for.
Think of it like building a house. If you were to just begin building without knowing what you were going to put into the house, then it may turn out to be the most beautiful 12 bedroom, one bathroom, no kitchen, two basement, nine-car garage house you’ve ever seen, but it would be completely unusable. The same can be said for a website: Without any thought about the content you’re putting into your website, you may end up with a lot of pieces you don’t need. And just like with the house, removing things can start to create holes and problems in other places.
Navigating without Content First
We’ve all been to websites that were impossible to navigate. Things didn’t make sense, and we weren’t sure where a click may lead us. We may not have even been able to figure out what the site was even trying to sell, tell or give us.
Most of these issues arise from content being an afterthought that’s added after the site is built. There’s no forethought put into how the end product will need to function, since no one knows what will be in it, so all of the content is added at the end and just jammed in wherever it will fit. This leads to a very unorganized and cluttered site, and it can leave the end user with a very terrible experience.
Communicating without Content
In the end, your content is your message. It’s the message for you, your company, or your brand. Without good content, you won’t have a good message. So, just like we first talked about, when redesigning an old website or designing a new website, you’ll want to make sure that your message is solid and then design around that.
Is your company message simple? Then you might need a much cleaner and concise website. Is your company message lengthy and verbose? Then you may need a website with several calls-to-action, links, blocks of text or images.
Not all designs work for every website, client, or user. And designing around content is the first step that will help you find exactly what works for your needs. Get started creating content for your website by watching our free webinar that walks you through the process, Putting Words to Work: Write Your Own Website Content.