Or rather, what should come first when starting a web project? Should the designer start putting together a wireframe that suits the client’s visual specs, or should the client (or their nominated copywriter) structure the content first, for the designer to build the aesthetics around?

It’s a question that keeps doing the rounds, and of course there are different opinions depending on which side of the creative fence you happen to be sitting on, so let’s clear this up once and for all – wherever possible try to ensure that content creator and designer sit down and collaborate together from the outset. Got it? Right, good, now let’s elaborate…

Back to basics

No matter what you think is the right starting point, it’s kind of irrelevant to some degree, because before you can create the right design or content, you need to work out the bigger picture.

What are your main objectives for your business, and how is the website going to help you achieve them? What does the site need to do? What do your customers need to know? How does this information need to be organised to ensure a great user experience? And, most importantly, how on earth do you make all these decisions?!

Right from the start, get these basics right – and the best way to do this is to get the client lead, the designer and the writer together to develop a site map that allows everyone to do their job properly. That way, everyone has had their input, brought their skills, knowledge and strengths to the table and understands what each other needs to move the project forward effectively and efficiently.

The next step

Now this is where copywriters and designers might start to argue about direction and priorities. The designer will want to start putting their ideas together, the writer will want to start creating the content – and it’s actually fine for both parties to get moving, but the key now is communication.

However, evidence does seem to support the view that while both content and design are important for usability, quality content and a basic design gets much higher conversion rates than when this is turned the other way round. So… how do we actually marry the two for a kick ass site?!

Everyone has a different way of working, but if there’s a rough guide to content levels from the beginning, that will help the designer to build a decent wireframe. Now the copywriter needs to make some decisions about structure too, so they can advise the designer how they visualise the text working on the page.

How will the content be broken down? Are there clearly defined sections, bullet lists, dynamic and strong straplines or CTAs? Is the text going to be structured in a similar way for each main page? Or are they prepared to fit in with the designers pre-defined text fields?

Providing everyone keeps talking and sharing their progress, there’s no reason why anyone has to massively compromise their own website ‘wish list’ – but for the very best results, we highly recommend having someone on board to work on the web copy from the outset of the design process. That way, you won’t find that the design is pretty much done and dusted, then suddenly you have to try and fit the words around it – this can lead to lower quality content, and subsequently poorer conversions.

If you’re not sure how to go about writing your web copy, your digital agency should have a copywriter onboard who can help and who will be used to working with a designer – then you can chill out, relax and wait for the results, which will be much more successful if the project is approached this way.