When should I start writing content for my new website?

Written by Tom Greenwood - October 18, 2012

Article read time: 2 minutes

When we design a new website the question always arises, “When do you need the content by?

It’s a good question, and the answer – “Now” – tends to make people fall off their chairs.

Most people assume that the content isn’t required until the website is fully developed, because they can’t add content to the site until the development is finished.  Thus writing content is a low priority on their list of things to do.

But we think this is upside down.

Things don’t work as well when you do them upside down. Photo by Team Traveller

Write your content first!

We think that copywriting should actually be the first part (or a very very early part) of a web design project. 

Ask yourself why you are getting a new website?

Because you want to sell some stuff, right?  But a website doesn’t just magically sell stuff.  It needs to persuade, inspire and encourage people to do business with you.  To do that, you need a seriously enticing sales pitch, and as you might have noticed, sales pitches are usually made out of words.

The web designer is being asked to design a website that will help you sell more and generate more enquiries, yet the actual sales messages that are the key to achieving that do not exist.  They are left to the end and then stuffed in awkwardly at the end.  But if you haven’t decided what you are trying to communicate on your new website, then you need to question why it is that you are even getting a new website. 

On the other hand, if you start the project with your messaging clearly defined and mapped out, and your core content already written, then you can create a design that brings those messages to life and makes them sing (not literally, I don’t wanted any dodgy animation!).  Your website will be an online embodiment of your core messages and as a result, people will get the message.  And if people get the message (assuming you have thought it through), then you’ll generate more leads and sales.

Is it practical?

Well, thats for you to decide.  Maybe your big boss CEO guy has told you that you’ve got to get a new website online pronto and you don’t have time to plan it out in advance, and that is understandable, especially if he gives you the evil eye.  But that doesn’t make it the best solution. 

Realistically you might not write all of your content in advance, and of course you’ll edit some (and add some) later.  That’s why you have a CMS after all.  But a little bit of planing to think through and write your core messages at the start of the project can really earn you big rewards in the long run.