Designing vs. Making Stuff Up
No web designer ever designed a web page. No magazine designer ever designed a magazine page. No news designer ever designed a newspaper page. You don’t design the page, you design the content. Without the content, you’re just making stuff up. That is not design. Call it decorating or guessing, but don’t call it design.
Before the design work starts, before the project starts, even before the contracts are sent to the client for execution, the issue of content must be addressed.
“Where is the content?”
“What content will be on this page …and on this page?”
“Who is writing the content?”
“When will you deliver the content?”
Answers to these questions will define how the project will proceed and when the design can begin. Perhaps more importantly, answers to these questions tell you just who you’re dealing with and how prepared they are to begin a project with you. And you may find that they’re simply not prepared. Best to know that before the contracts are signed and the project is under way.
These questions are scary and unexpected for most potential clients. Often they haven’t considered content beyond the abstract idea that the pages will have content. It’s your job to correct this mistake and address what must be addressed—before you offer a bid. No, really. How can you know how much work is ahead of you or even if your potential client is ready to begin the project unless you have answers to content questions? Other factors will impact the project, but where design is involved, content decides almost everything.
If you are “designing” without the content, you are being paid to do something that you’re only pretending to do. And that’s not a good way to serve your client or his interests.