This article is part of our series on four essential questions to ask when building a successful website, specifically part of question four: How do you go about building the site?
Without content, websites are just shelves to put stuff on. Yet so often, content falls by the wayside either entirely or until the end of a project. At Edgar Allan, we believe that content is the glue that holds a project together — a bridge between brand and execution. By prioritizing not just a content-first but a content-always focus, we ensure there is an arbiter of, and advocate for, audience and story from start to finish.
Here’s how to design with content in a way that keeps your project progressing and your audience top of mind.
Just say "no" to no strategy
You can’t start a club without first knowing why everyone is getting together. You wouldn’t build a home without pouring a foundation. And sure, you could film a movie without the script, but you’ll probably be really surprised at the end.
It’s even worse to be surprised at the end of a web project, so make sure you’re taking a step back and thinking about strategy before plowing ahead with wireframes. When you prioritize strategic discussions, which will inevitably include conversations about audience, positioning, blog articles, and the like, the chances of maintaining a content-first approach skyrocket.
Scalability is freedom for projects big and small
This one really depends on the platform supporting the website build. Webflow, for instance, offers configurability in how you can input content, making it easier to incorporate it earlier in the project. Because we can write freely in the browser using Webflow, we’re able to pull our writers into the process much earlier. It also allows larger clients to scale the narrative that connects audience and brand without waiting for us to stand things up.
We can start early with the content, we can build some page templates, and then we can train our clients on how to stand them up themselves. As a result, internal teams — and companies big and small — gain ample freedom in how they connect users with useful digital experiences.
Audience-first shouldn’t be lip service
Yes, we all know that we’re supposed to be thinking “audience first” all the time. But how many of us are actually able to do it during the majority of the thousands of minutes between kickoff and launch? It’s easy to push that audience-first mindset out of the way because you’re busy planning, communicating with clients, and, you know, actually making the website. Having a designated content designer, along with a “content always” mindset across the team, ensures there is always an audience advocate in the room from start to finish.
Content first? No, content always
Thanks to our content design mindset and the tooling available to us in Webflow, we’re able to craft better conversations with audiences, rather than talk at them. Because we’ve done the research, we’ve fought for the research, and we’ve advocated for the user’s needs every step of the way.
“Content first” is a trendy idea at the moment, but “content always” is even better. It’s about having content present at the table and being that champion for the audience, the client, the project, and the brand, all the way through.
So if you find yourself asking: When is the best time to bring in a content designer? The answer: right now. Always.