Josh Shardlow Team : Web Production Tags : Web Design Web Development Common Sense

Don't be content without content

Josh Shardlow Team : Web Production Tags : Web Design Web Development Common Sense

Rapid prototyping a website can be exciting. Whiteboards, texta pens, the air thick with ideas and the anticipation of great things to come. But if you’re going to get the most out of this early phase of web development you’ll need to think beyond hastily scribbled boxes and the convenience of lorem ipsum.

While some good websites have come from white board sketches and lines of barely comprehensible text reading “Heading goes here . . .Tag line 1, content, content, content”, most great websites arise from situations where content (including copy) has been part of the creative mix from the start of the process.

It makes sense when you think about it. Most functional website real estate includes sizeable amounts of copy. Even in a site that relies heavily on images and is light in copy, getting the messaging right is important in that you have less of an opportunity to get your few words communicating the right message.

OK, so you don’t know exactly how the final copy is going to read and of course you’re in a rush to capture an emerging creative vision but don’t use that as an excuse to not start figuring out your key messaging right away.

Keep it simple to start with. Think about headlines for each section,  place descriptive nouns and verbs into your prototype sub-copy sections and jot down any ideas you have on messaging as you sketch. It really doesn’t take that long.

Sure, you won’t get it right every time, but you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes to making important design decisions as you progress. You’ll have ideas about section length and approximate word count, you’ll know the space you have for other design elements and you’ll have an early overall sense of page balance and weight. No more frazzled design team after they create an awesome design only to have it smashed to bit by shoehorning copy into the design.

From a content perspective you’ll be better positioned by having worked on your messaging since the start. You’ll have had more time to proof and optimise your language and as a result your messaging will be more targeted and effective.

So next time you’re kicking off a project with your agency insist on developing content early.  It’s a little bit of upfront thinking (that you’ll have to do eventually anyway) that will pay big dividends throughout the project.