Which Comes First Website Copy or Design?

Ask The Web Developer: What Comes First – Copy or Design?


When we’re working with a business owner to help them develop a more effective online presence, one question comes up time and time again. When you’re creating a new website, which comes first: copy writing or design?

It’s not a bad question. It’s just generally less relevant than you might think. Copy and design are both communication tools: they each have a specific role to play in connecting you with your customer. In the ideal situation, your design and copy providers work together in an integrated, focused fashion to produce the best possible results.

Design and Copy Support Each Other

Good design supports and enhances copy by making your website easier to read, understand, and use. The design choices made by your web developer can play a huge role on the emotional impact of your website: human beings are intensely visual, and we use color, iconography and imagery as guides to help us decide how we feel about things. Good graphic design captures and directs the attention, highlighting elements of the copy that are particularly relevant, such as calls to action, that lead your customer to strengthen their relationship with you.

Good copy writing supports and enhances design by populating your website with easy to understand, compelling messages that motivate customers to do business with you. Copy writing can address both the logical and emotional considerations of the buyer, doing everything from spelling out the details about a product or service through reassuring the customer they’re making a wise decision with a guarantee policy.

Achieving a situation where copy and design seamlessly support each other requires effort. This type of coordination doesn’t just happen – especially if you’re assembling a team of freelancers who have never worked together before to build your website. There are distinct advantages to hiring a team of coordinated professionals who have a history of working well together. This can facilitate the simultaneous integrated development of both copy and design, an approach which generally results in a better web experience for your customer.

First Things First: Goals, Objectives and Tone

Before color schemes are picked out or a single word of copy is written, there are more important decisions that a business owner needs to make with regard to their website. In order to create the best possible copy and design, creative professionals need to know the goals and objectives of the website. As the client, you can’t communicate that your creative team knows what you want your website to do for you. It is your responsibility to identify and articulate what your website needs to do.

The next consideration is tone. Tone is the emotional “feel” of your website. Tone dictates the type of experience your customer will have when they’re on your website. Want a tasty example? Visit the Ben and Jerry’s and Breyers websites. Both companies sell tasty, tasty ice cream – but the emotional experience – aka tone – of each website is distinctly different from the other.

Before your creative team can create powerful, effective design and copy elements for your website, they need to know what you want to accomplish – your goals and objectives – and how you want to accomplish it – the tone. The time you spend covering this material is an investment in how successful your online marketing will be. Not sure where to start? Give us a call. We’re here to help.

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