Which is more important the content or the images?
Well, that’s like asking me which one of my children I love more. My son – the question-asker; the story-teller – he’s very much the creator and crafter of content. He always has something to say, something to read, something to write. If he’s read his book a thousand times, you know what will make it refreshingly new? Reading it in a Russian accent. Why Russian? I don’t know. You’d have to ask him.
My daughter is obsessed with shoes. Now, those of you who know me shouldn’t be surprised by this: I am obsessed with shoes. But, at one and a half years of age, she seems to have come to this conclusion all on her own. Maybe it’s genetic? She’s also obsessed with all things decorative and colour- or theme-matched. She’s definitely the designer out of the two. Why do her unicorn shoes and unicorn backpack have to match in an aesthetically pleasing way (and why unicorns)? I don’t know. You’d have to ask her.
Do I love one of them more than the other? Most definitely not. But was one of them born before the other? Yes. Mr Content Creator came first. So, while content and images are equally important, I’m here to convince you of why you need to write your content – or have it written by a professional – before you select your images and bring in design features.
When design gets in the way
I love my daughter’s self-expression; her look. But sometimes it gets in the way. What I mean by that is maybe she hasn’t taken temperature into account (not likely, she’s 1.5!), or maybe she hasn’t considered that her matching top is in the wash. If we start with a design template we like, we might not be able to fit in that excellent testimonial because it’s longer than three lines. Or we might not be able to describe a product properly, or how it functions, because we’re locked into a certain design. If we write the content first, we can design something that works with the content. Or you can think of it this way: content is like water.
“You put water into a cup it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot.”
Just as I might “update” my daughter’s ensemble (ok, appease her with a matching bow so she forgets her unicorn shirt is in the wash), your design has got to be able to be updated. If you start with content – and that means ALL your content (engage a copywriter first!) – then your design forms and grows around your content and will be far more easily updated than if you’d started with a rigid design template.
What about SEO?
As much as we might want it to be, a website isn’t an art gallery. Even if the website is for an art gallery! Websites are constantly changing and being updated with information and the website needs to be able to give the customer/client/visitor the answers they need. Websites need content to tell their story. To tell people why the website exists. What function does it serve? What benefit does it give? But before any of that, people need to be able to find your website! That doesn’t happen because of images, that happens because of content. Google loves good copywriting. So, if you want your website to be easily found, then you need to write the content first.
Now excuse me while I go answer the rapid-fire questions of a 5 year-old and find a unicorn jumper.