Website Content or Page Layout, Which Comes First


The hardest part of creating a website is, without a doubt, content creation. And this piece comes up much earlier in the website process than most people are expecting.

I don’t want to discount the work the Carbon8 team does, our account managers are saints, our designers are top notch and our developers make dreams come true - we are a well-oiled machine, ready to build what you need. But what makes every website unique, even if you buy a pre-built theme, is your content.

“But how do I know what content to create, if I haven’t seen the design?”

We hear during every website process. Our response is, "But how do we know what to build if we don’t know what the content is?"

Anyone can go out and buy a pre-built theme website, adjust the colors, plug in some copy and be on their merry-way. But, a custom-built website is our bread and butter and the “custom” piece is entirely based on your unique brand personality and your unique content needs.

Below I have outlined our process to thinking through copy when you’re building a new website or refreshing your old site.

Think High Level

Think about your website from a one-thousand foot level. What do you need to say to your web visitors? You should explain who you are, what you do and how they can buy. The rest is just extra.

  • Think about the pages you need to accomplish that goal (explaining who you are, what you do and how they can buy)
  • The output of this exercise is a sitemap, which is a hierarchy that indicates all the pages on your website, and Carbon8 helps extensively with this part of the process
  • If you already have a site, Carbon8 can help you to analyze pages on your existing site that aren’t performing well and need improvement to make sure we’re creating a clear structure for your site and its content

Make a List of Mandatory Text Content

Once you know the general pages on your site, get more granular on each section of content and even put together a little outline. For example:

  • Product Pages: product description, pricing details, technical specs, features, benefits etc.
  • About Pages: who we are, why you should buy from us, our company history or story, our leadership team etc.

Take Inventory of Additional Assets

Now that you know the general pages you need to accomplish your message goals, have thought about the text content you need to say, it’s time to think about other assets you have. This is a great time to assess holes in your current asset set. For example:

  • Product/Solution related: PDF brochures, videos, training materials, tools and calculators, infographics or imagery
  • Social Proof: case studies, testimonials, social media

Solidify Your Offers

Your website should always invite users to reach out to you and provide them an opportunity to learn more about your offering.

  • Every page should end with a call to action statement, with a link to your “contact us” page, ability to request a quote or offer your visitor something (OF REAL VALUE) in exchange for their contact information
  • Think about what you can offer. Maybe that’s a free brainstorm, a free trial, access to an expensive industry report etc.
  • Even if you’re interested more in a “soft sell” you should provide a clear invitation to reach out when they’re ready. Let them know your door is always open!

Once these steps have been accomplished, Carbon8 will be able to start recommending the best layouts for your unique content needs. Without any concept of what you what to say and assets you have, we can certainly create you SOMETHING, but it’s not necessarily going to be customized to your unique content, which is really what we’re here to do for you.

When it comes to actually putting the pen to paper (or text in a Word document?) take a look at my Simple Tips to Writing Web Copy for suggestions on how to structure your copy.

And you know, if you’re really stumped, we can always write it for you. Get in touch to learn more about getting the most out of your new website.

Shay Ruggles
written by SHAY RUGGLES

Shay Ruggles is the Director of UX at Carbon8 who ensures we are creating compelling experiences that balance user intent, clients’ business needs and site performance. A former Account Manager, Video Producer and Carbon8’s first employee, Shay leveraged her years of experience, education and research to transition to the creative team of Carbon8 in 2012.

share this