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Why copy comes first

When it comes to creative communication, design and copy have always been at loggerheads. Neither wants to be second best and both believe their high noon is nigh. John Moore Williams, Webflow’s Director of Content Strategy offers a weigh in on the debate with “Why content comes first”. His blog explains why the ‘right way to do things’ is by putting copy (or content) first. With an aim to list out practical reasons that support the primacy of content, Williams’ commentary is a holy grail for copywriters and designers alike.

The reasons why content should be put first are simple: prioritizing content delivers speeded up production, enhances the need for design, and creates an understanding of the context.

To begin with, copy approval is a preemptive move that potentially avoids the scope of further miscommunication. This not only accelerates the process, but it is also important to note that the interplay of copy and design is like that of a gun and bullets. To shoot a gun you need the right bullets. Copy and design must be perceived as parts of a greater whole for a productive result. Be it with respect to results, the process, or even research, content always creates understanding.

Content bridges the gap between what meets the eye and what our brain makes of it. It also has the potential to create solutions for design-related problems. Copy communicates lucidly, as does design - both convey messages subtly, leaving room for the viewers to interpret and other times explicitly.

The bottom line, even if design is communication, you must know what to communicate. And what you say is the copy. When design comes first, you’re most likely to be shackled to write something that ‘fits’ it which may, in turn, water down your message. But the content-first scenario is advantageous - what you write can influence the design and strengthen the message further.

Hence its primacy.

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