A content first design approach is suitable for applications, websites and new product features. In this context, we are using the word content to refer mainly to written copy. However, content can also refer to a lesser extent to pictures, audio, video, CTAs and others.
Why putting the content first matters
When you start out your design projects by writing the content first, you will be able to figure out certain things early on. You might need more or less words than you anticipate in order to deliver the right message to your audience, so drawing up a wireframe that includes either too much, or too little text, will lead to redesigns and other headaches.
This is especially true when there are multiple stakeholders and decision makers taking part in the design process. Copy will have to go through several revisions, after feedback from designers, marketers, CEOs and even clients. This will slow everything down, and possibly lead to the problems such as miscommunication, and crossed wires.
There are also cases when content and design form a harmonious whole together. When designing landing pages, copy and design are much tighter linked, and having the copywriting team work with the design team can lead to some truly attractive pages.
Designers benefit from content research (and vice versa)
When content is tied to design, it goes through the same user testing as the design of the website. This can help both copywriters and designers use their expertise to figure out how to solve bottlenecks. For example, you may have an area of your website that simply does not engage users. A designer might think that the problem is related to form, or imagery, when the problem might be related to content that is not clear or engaging enough. Similarly, a copywriter might slave over content writing revision after revision, without realizing that the color scheme does not provide enough contrast to raise the interest of the user.
Communication is key
Coordination between the content creation and design teams at the start of a project will ensure proper communication from the beginning, and it will lead to both higher quality content and higher quality design. The UX will stand to benefit, and the entire design process will be streamlined, and more efficient.
The content team will have to structure the website in a way that works best for relaying the information in the most effective manner. This will help create a website that is pleasant to read through, without too much fluff that ultimately turns off customers. Customers have several interests when learning about a new company: what does it sell, what are the benefits of the product/service, social proof, pricing and use cases. Once the content structure is built on solid marketing principles, the design team will bring everything to life, creating the UX necessary to attract users and keep them engaged long enough to be converted.