At WordCamp Europe last month, I was not surprised that there were not too many participants who labeled themselves as content creators. Sure, there were plenty of people who, ‘did content,’ but whenever someone mentioned it, it almost seemed like a shameful secret hidden behind more professional pursuits such as design and development.

It was my first WordPress event, and I am sure that there are more content developers out there. Whether you are a business owner writing your own content or a writer/photographer working for someone else, it is important to realize that content is the primary foundation of a successful website.

You can have a gorgeous, functional site, but if you do not have something to say, your time and energy maintaining that site is being wasted. For this reason, design and development should follow content creation.

Unfortunately, content often takes a backseat to design. I am guilty of this, too. I have selected a pretty theme, customized it to suit my style, and hoped that it would inspire me to write good content. However, here are three reasons you should start with a solid plan for your content before you get into the design and development phase.

Content Will Determine Color Schemes

You may correctly assume that the colors of your site should be determined by your brand and perhaps color psychology. However, the type and tone of content you create will help a designer determine appropriate ratios for those colors.

For example, photo-heavy content may require more blocks of solid color whereas text-based content may require more textures. The average size length of your paragraphs will determine how wide your text containers need to be in order to make the most of your white space.

Content Will Determine Shape and Flow 

Once you have a majority of your content created, it will make the creation of wire frames and the ultimate design of your site easier and faster. The logical flow of your content will help limit your menu and create a style for your site.

Content Will Determine Additional Plugins and Site Features 

Finally, content will let a developer know exactly what type of features your site needs. Too often, when you design and develop before you create content, you can be pulled towards creative, interesting plugins that are completely useless for your company. Ultimately, they end up cluttering your site and you struggle to create quality content to fill them.

Starting with content will allow you to build an elegant site that uses its space efficiently and is not only easy but fun for you to maintain.

Content-led-design does not only apply to new websites. If you are redesigning an existing website, one of the most helpful things you can do for your designer is let them know exactly which content you need to keep and what isn’t working for you.

Of course, a site needs a flexible design that can accommodate the content you will add in the future as well as the base content that you are currently adding. However, this should not be a problem unless the style of your content and the purpose of your site drastically changes.

So, if you are looking for a new website and wondering where to start, stop scanning themes and looking for developers. Go back to the basics and sharpen your content before you do anything.

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