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Cullen Fischel of Cleveland on Why Website Content and Design Should be Developed Simultaneously

Cullen Fischel of Cleveland

Cullen Fischel of Cleveland is a web designer and entrepreneur. In the following article, Cullen discusses the importance of balancing website design and content together, and why these elements must compliment each other to ensure fluidity, ease of use, and more.

Forget the “what came first, the chicken or the egg” adage; in website development, it’s “what comes first, the design or the copy?”

Digital design agencies across the globe have tailored their workflows according to what they believe best satisfies this query. However, Cullen Fischel of Cleveland would argue that it truly depends on every project’s own considerations and needs. Regardless, the debate keeps bouncing between design first and copy after, or copy before design.

Like most things in life, balance is key — and many industry moguls believe it’s the same in design and copy development. Website content and design should be conducted simultaneously to ensure any and all gaps are filled. After all, design is simply a visual layout without copy, yet copy is just information without placement when there’s no design.

As Cullen Fischel of Cleveland explains, equilibrium must be maintained from the start.

Every strategy comes with its foibles, and experts have dissected the methods to come up with an (almost) one-size-fits-all solution.

Design First, Copy After

Many agencies have adopted the “design comes first, content comes afterward” method, as they believe it eradicates the downfalls of its “copy first” cousin.

Cullen Fischel of Cleveland claims that several experts prefer this for the way it helps in dictating the content’s tone. For example, rich designs with sharp geometric patterns, flashy animations, and eye-catching color pallets evoke confident, potentially edgy, and determined content. As a result, it helps writers avoid misaligning phrases and their overall tone — they utilize the visual interface to determine the emotion.

On top of that, it allows writers to see the amount of space that should be filled, dictating the length of their content and saving time on refinements.

However, Cullen Fischel of Cleveland says that this method isn’t without flaws.

Industry insiders report that writers don’t always work directly with designers, especially if they’re freelancers or contractors hired solely for one project. Ultimately, this causes delayed communication and issues with design sharing, often affecting project pipelines.

Moreover, designing isn’t a linear process; it’s iterative, shaping and shifting as it goes. Cullen Fischel of Cleveland explains that, upon presentation to shareholders, designs littered with lorem ipsum placeholders can cause confusion about the sections, muddling the initial visual experience.

Cullen Fischel of Cleveland
Copy First, Design After

Anyone in the industry will have heard Bill Gates’ famous “content is king” quote, which is where the idea of “content first, design second” stems from. While it’s undoubtedly a popular phrase, it’s typically watered down as a blanket statement to design, even where it isn’t really applicable.

No digital product is the same, and some stakeholders even have their own content ready to go, allowing “copy first, design later” to work seamlessly.

Cullen Fischel of Cleveland says that these designers use the existing content to create a website around it, easily aligning their design tones with the content’s voice to craft a cohesive site. It makes user pathways and journeys simpler to fashion.

Plus, without lorem ipsum placeholders, visualizing the product is effortless.

Then again, professionals encourage agencies to understand that this also isn’t a flawless technique.

One of the major disadvantages to “copy first” methods is the larger potential for wasted time. Developing content always takes time, and writers must evoke the brand’s or organization’s tone of voice, implement SEO practices, and ensure users can navigate easily, reports Cullen Fischel of Cleveland.

So, waiting for writers to fully develop the content before designing will often slow the whole process. Not to mention the likelihood of writers crafting copy that’s too long or too short for the design.

The Key to Unlocking Website Development Success: Design and Copy Simultaneously

Overall, Cullen Fischel of Cleveland says that balance is an agency’s best friend. As the website is realized, copy and design development should begin simultaneously, ensuring the site starts as it intends to go on. Since design and content are equally important, they need to find synergy early on to acquire aligning tones and emotions.

Furthermore, a website with design and content developed in tandem allows developers to always gain accurate feedback from stakeholders. That way, both elements can adapt together, based on specific comments.

Agencies looking to achieve maximum productivity will find success by combining design and copy creation. As long as team members and freelancers establish open lines of communication and are free to share information, cohesive work and a brilliant website will be achieved.