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WHICH COMES FIRST: CONTENT OR DESIGN? THE ANSWER MAY SURPRISE YOU



I’m sure you’ve heard the age-old argument about the chicken and the egg. Well, a similar debate in the marketing world has also been known to ruffle some feathers. Which should come first: content or design?


While arguments have been made for both sides, I find it challenging to create designs that effectively communicate a desired message if I don’t know what that message is! That’s why, whether it’s a recruitment brochure, promotional materials for a conference, or even a graphic for a social media campaign, I prefer having some form of content before getting started. It could be just enough to develop a concept for a large piece or perhaps all of it for a first draft of a shorter piece.


But I’m not just pro-content-first because it makes my job easier: having content inform design can also save my clients time and money. When I worked on projects where I was asked to design first and then drop in the copy, seemingly endless changes were needed to realign the layout with the text. This was not only frustrating but resulted in unplanned time and cost overruns.


So, Team Content for the win?

The reasons to go with content before design are compelling for my clients and me. But recently, I worked on a project that got me thinking maybe there’s a better answer to this debate. In the past, the projects that have gone the most smoothly and that I’ve most enjoyed were like this one, where content and design development went hand-in-hand. So rather than choosing a side, why not choose to collaborate instead?


Birds of a feather create better together.

On this project, the in-house copywriter and I were creative partners, working with the other stakeholders right from the start to answer the big picture questions, the who, what, and whys. Once goals and strategy were in place, we began the content/design process together, making creative decisions upfront—there’s going to be a large intro, short paragraphs, and lots of subheads. And leave room for sidebars and callouts—a collaborative approach that continued throughout the project. The end result was the smooth execution of an on-target design that delivered the desired outcome for the client. (And as a bonus - it was a lot of fun!)


Don’t put all your eggs (or chickens) in one basket.

If you want the best outcome for your next design project, be sure creative collaboration comes first. And if you need mission-driven, engaging print and digital design that inspires action and delivers results—let's connect!


Infinite Blue Creative provides creative design services to busy nonprofit, education, and small business marketing and communications professionals.


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