Not too long ago I was asked the following question: “What is more important: design or content?”. Some years ago I would have boasted: “design”. Today, however, after many projects, I think that they are part and parcel. However, I do recognize that I came across this issue in all my projects.
Many designers ask their clients to provide them with content to kick-start the project. I believe that that can raise doubts as to what clients should expect.
Clients then ask questions about the number and size of the content we are asking for, and what the strategy for the project is. I’ve seen many projects stopping here: at the point where no one wants to take the first step.
Starting with content can indeed help designers understand what is the personality of the project that they are helping to create and to develop a visual language around it. On the other hand, starting with the design can give copywriters a better platform to write their story, filling it with elements that can speak to and enhance the user experience.
So, what should come first, design or copy?
As I see it, there is no order of priority. Instead, there is a collaborative work, side by side.
No project can be deemed complete and able to provide the final user with a full experience if the content is added only after the layout is done, nor the other way around.
These two elements depend on one another, there is a symbiosis. In an ideal project, designers and copywriters communicate at all stages, step by step, working together to achieve the best results.
We can only determine whether the project is more copy-driven or design-driven. It’s not that big of a deal what comes first, but which dimension should weigh more in all decisions.