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The power of content in web design

The web designer's guide to building better websites — by creating better content.
The power of content in web design
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"Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it's decoration." –Jeffrey Zeldman, 2008

Many of the best minds in the world of web design and development believe that content is the foundation of what we do.

But anyone who has actually been involved in the process of building a website or web app knows that content is all too often left to the very last moment.

Clients say they’ll “get it to you” … week after week after week. They’ll ask if you can’t just “design it anyway.” Or, possibly worse, ask you to “just write something up.”

High-fidelity designs land in copywriters’ inboxes, dotted here and there with neat little boxes placed just so and packed, for the moment, with lorem ipsum.

And whole websites go live, filled with awkward phrases, outright typos, and wildly inconsistent tonal shifts.

If you ask me, all this is putting the cart before the house. It’s as if the internet has so upended the idea of publishing that we don’t even think of what we do as publishing anymore.

But rest assured: we’re still publishing. And that means we owe it ourselves, our clients, and everyone else out there on the web to care more about our content. To put the cart before the horse, and build our designs to fit the content, instead of struggling to fit content into designs that were built in a black box.

So we at Webflow put this book together to help you (and your clients) finally put content first.

It’ll help you explain to clients why you need content from them before you start the design. It’ll help you build a design that’s flexible enough to handle content created by anyone. And it’ll help you plan for the creation of content that gets people visiting your website because it answers their questions.

Finally, it’ll give you actionable tips and handy tools for creating better new content and fixing existing content — a website improvement technique that’s both easier, and often, more effective, than any redesign.

First Chapter
Practicing content-first design