Web Design – How we are Doing It Wrong and How to Change

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There is an emerging design methodology that understands the way web sites have largely been developed up until now has been counter-productive and the process of design first and content later results in sites that value form over functionality and decoration rather than purpose. This concept is Content First and goes hand-in-hand with Mobile First and Adaptive and Responsive Design.

Content First is the idea that a website should be developed around the content rather than creating a design first, and then fitting the content into that design. What can happen is a nice looking site that fails to deliver the content in a meaningful way.

Focusing first on the design can ensure the website reflects the corporate image and values and conforms to the style guide for all the existing print material, logo and office furniture; except what may work on paper or a billboard doesn’t always translate to the web.

By focusing on the content first: the purpose of each page, whether it is text, images, video and animations can be structured to meet the organisations’ goals without restrictions. The design can then flow around the content to present it in a coherent and logical way. Additionally focusing on good content in turn results in better search engine placement from the start.

With mobile devices gradually becoming the device of choice for going online, a web design that looks great on a desktop isn’t necessarily going to on a smaller screen. This mindfulness to the multitude of devices web site visitors may use reinforces the value of first considering the purpose (and length) of the content.

The question should be asked: Do desktop users necessarily want all that extra clutter? Are we just filling space and is it distracting from the main goal?

Content First is a better way to develop a website. While it requires having the content and navigation largely complete before the design is even started, the advantages when designing for multiple devices and enhanced SEO are worth making the change.

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