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The Importance of the Writing Process Before Website Design

People often ask if you can design a site before the writing process is complete. The belief is that if you create a great looking site that you can add the writing later – this is both true and false.

» It is important to design for the written content, not just create a shell for it to live in.

While you can technically use what is called lorum ipsom, or filler text, to create a site I do not recommend this.

Write Before You Design

Ideally, all the writing is created before the website is designed. I like to work with clients on something I call “collaborwriting” which is my writing process for collaborating on pieces of writing until they are ready to publish.

Together with my client, we identify what already exists, and what is needed and then create new content for the website.

If a piece has already been started, my job is to edit for structure and the flow of information first. Proofreading is always last (and happens throughout the entire process, over and over again).

That is the general writing process but it is flexible and unique to each individual client.

The writing process can be too much for one person to take on alone. As a writer I know I need a subject expert to get the facts and experiences that I need to turn it into writing.

And the experts I’ve seen, sometimes they are too close to the information to see it from a bird’s eye view. That’s where I come in.

I help clients to see the big picture and connect the details in writing in a focused, business-oriented way.

Website Copy Should Sound Like Your #1 Salesperson

Oftentimes working through the writing process is an exercise in clarifying your scope of business too. The more clear and straightforward you are about what you provide and the benefits to your clients the better.

So there is a lot of opportunity in the writing process to clarify your own intentions as the business owner.

Your website should be your number one salesperson, so it’s crucial to make sure the message is right.

When I’m starting a new project I always recommend that the client creates a bulleted list of keywords – things they find themselves repeating a lot to clients, popular terms or analogies they use and things they say to clients that help them to close deals.

It is an easy and fun way to kick off a writing project.

Focusing less on the written piece as a whole and focusing more on these specific words and phrases is helpful because it defines the core of the writing. It also helps me because it provides input for further research.

Write for Easy Reading

When it comes to the details of the writing process, there are some helpful tricks of the trade. Consider this when you are writing content to help your writing gain traction:

  • Write in bullets.
  • Identify blurbs, or messages and information you want to call out with bigger font quotes.
  • Don’t write too many lines of text altogether, space it out.

The truth about the writing process is that it is a difficult, probably the most difficult, part of your website. You want it to accurately reflect your services and your brand but you also want it to compete effectively and help you rank high in Google search results.

It also impacts design because it needs to cohesively flow together with the other elements of the website. And of course it also needs to resize correctly according to screen size.

It would be incredibly time-consuming to design a website with filler text and then copy the text in later. It creates more work and that additional work will feel more piecemeal, scattered and less purposeful than if you design with the writing.

That’s not to say there won’t be edits during the design process. When you see the writing on your new website it will either inspire new words or a decision to cut or move it elsewhere.

And to that I say, cut away!

There is nothing wrong with improving written content during design, just don’t wait til then to start from scratch.

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Do you have a writing project and need some help?