Content or Design: Which Should You Consider First?

3 minute read.

A few of us at SplitMango like to attend the Vancouver Meetup group, Style & Class. It’s a group of tech and design individuals who get together to listen to talks on the latest in design, code and the tech industry in general. At the beginning of August we had the pleasure of attending Style & Class’ ‘Design & Content Panel’ at the Rio Theatre.

The panel included a collection of content strategists, designers and web specialists from around North America all in Vancouver for the larger Design and Content conference. Clair Byrd, Ethan Marcott, Karen McGrane, Samantha Warren, Sara Wachter-Boettcher and Steve Fisher discussed topics directed towards Design & Content.

Content First Design: The Constant Debate

The main questions for this evening’s discussion dealt with Content First Design. Should all the content be given to the designer before they start designing? Is it okay for content to be added after the design is complete? Karen McGrane informed the crowd that even though this seems like a fairly new debate, these are actually age old questions that have existed long before web design, just in a different context.

So is content needed before design? According to the panelists, some content strategists will say that there is no way to have all the content ready before they see how the site is designed. They need the look and feel of the site to know exactly where they want the content to fit. On the other side of the spectrum, some designers will say they need all the content ahead of time so they can design for the type of content being added.

The panelists seemed to come to an agreement that a medium needs to be struck between the two. There has to be balance. An understanding of the content being added should be given ahead of time along with examples but not all words will be necessary for the design to be completed. An example of one page that could never expect full content is a website’s Blog page. This is because there is an understanding that content is constantly evolving for this page and will be molded towards one design.

In the end, content helps formulate design and can create a better experience for the user. If a designer has an understanding of what words will be on a page, a design can be assembled that will reflect the content and aid the user as they interact with that content. Knowing content before a design starts is a big help and can change the shape of the design dramatically.

Cool Things on the Internet

To end off the discussion, the panelists were asked to mention some cool things they love on the Internet. Here’s a list of some of those:

BBC News’ responsive design. With such a large database it’s on of the first news websites to undergo a complete responsive transition.

NPR One Public radio on your phone with a great review from many of the panelists.

Zombies, Run! It’s an app for runners who might need a little more encouragement and motivation while running. As someone who doesn’t necessarily enjoy running, it actually makes it look much more appealing to be playing a game that would make me want to run just a bit faster.

The Dissolve While this movie review site is actually saying farewell due ot financial challenges, it’s still live with tons of great reviews and a podcast to listen to.

Achewood This is a web comic series that has become quite popular over the last few years. It’s blunt, rude, clever and not for everyone but quite funny if that’s your sense of humour.

Trip It This is a great site for anyone planning a trip. It’s for the traveller who needs a bit more organization and syncing between your phone and calendar.

story written by Jacqui Janzen