So You're Ready For a Content-First Design Process

In my last post, I asked the not-so-rhetorical question "When will content be first?" I got some reminders that content strategy is playing a more important role in discovery and planning processes. Content inventories and audits happen regularly. Messages architectures are created, along with style guides. Solid site maps get created before wireframes. Fewer designers are using lorem ipsum in the things they design.

And that is good news. The web design world has made some good-sized steps toward incorporating content strategy. Let's take a moment to recognize that.

What's next?

Time's up! We still have a long way to go. What are you doing to use content as the design material? (Designing Connected Content, p. 169)?

Over the last couple of years, since I started really digging in on what it meant to design future-friendly content with Mike Atherton, I came across many sources that filled some gaps. They helped me stretch beyond organizing content and structuring it in the CMS.

Here I share them in the hopes that you gain a deeper understanding of what content-first design means, whether you're a content strategist, communications manager, information architect, project manager, designer, developer, or anyone else involved in creating digital content or products.

Content-First Design
Steph Hay's 2015 article about content first design shares the beginning of her work in conversation design, which she's put into place at Capital One and continues to share with the digital design world.

Content First – Design Last
From a developer's perspective, Rik Schennink shows how to create semantic HTML before adding styling and formatting with CSS. Not only does this put the content first, it creates fundamentally accessible code.

Content First Web Design: What It's About and How to Get Started
Karol K. from Adobe gives us 4 benefits of and 6 ways to do content-first design, These include giving web design constraints and the reminder that "content first" is not just "text first."

Positing 3 axes of web design (possibly 4)
Michael Smethurst, a pioneer in domain modeling for web and digital product design, shows how we should be working outside in rather than inside out.

More Examples

Here a few examples of others working content-first, last, and all the way through.

I Can’t Quit Content First Design
If you have worked with a good content strategist, you've probably become a convert to content-centric design thinking. Tony Headrick, a former colleague of Andy Welfie, now a senior content strategist at Adobe, shares his story of conversion.

Content (modeling) first design
The subtitle pretty much says it all: Every design process should prioritize content. But that doesn’t mean it should start with writing. Take a peek into John Moore Williams' process and how it happens in Webflow CMS.

I'm sure there is more, but these are the ones I've turned to again and again or have bookmarked. What has helped you convert to a content-first design process? Please share in the comments so we can all benefit.