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Default CategoryMay 31, 2016

Make Content a Priority, Not an Afterthought

Rachel Costas

As the only member of Credera’s UX team with a degree in journalism, not art and design, I spent the first four years of my career as a copywriter. Eventually, I swapped prose for pixels and transitioned into the design world. User experience appealed to me because just like a good writer, a good UX designer makes the complex simple.

My background in strategic writing influences how I approach the design process and information architecture. Inherently, I consider visual and written content to be equally important. It’s perplexing how rarely UX teams collaborate with content writers, and how frequently companies hire designers to modernize their web presence without giving content review a second thought.

Bad writing undermines great design and bad design overshadows great writing. Outstanding UX requires smart copy and design because both of these elements impact credibility and shape perception. By implementing a content-first approach to design, UX professionals can help their company or client achieve a seamless digital presence. In the words of author and product manager, Rian van der Merwe, “If we design before we have content, we effectively create the packaging before we know what’s going in it.”

A content-first approach calls for a thorough content audit at the beginning of a project. If you start wireframing or designing before reading the existing copy, you’ll run into problems. For instance, imagine allocating space in a design for three paragraphs of text, then stepping back to read the copy and realizing it could (and should) be condensed into just one paragraph. An early evaluation of written content can also reduce time wasted on revisions to sitemaps or schematics, since you had the opportunity to identify redundant screens that could be pared down into fewer pages or scrapped completely right off the bat.

What’s the first step in deploying a content-first approach? Break up with lorem ipsum. Removing the injection of filler text from the UX workflow forces designers to take stock of the existing copy and proceed accordingly.

When you visit a website or open an app, the design sets the mood and the copy humanizes the experience. Visuals and words combine to breathe life into a brand.