Content First, Design Second

by on January 14, 2011

contentThere are going to be a bunch of people who disagree with this statement without reading the reasons here and too bad for them.

When building a website worry about content first, design second.

Now there are certainly some obvious exceptions to this rule, but unless you plan to get all your traffic through a ton of work spamming forums and manually creating links, you have to initially rely on search engine traffic.

Can you run a good website without search engine traffic?  Sure you can. Some people do.   But I wouldn’t suggest it starting out.  Getting traffic without being listed in Google is possible if you have an established follower base or have a strong offline presence, but if you’re reading this it’s likely not the case for you.

So, why content first?  Because even with a completely bland design, search engines will find your content and people will still read it.  GoogleBot doesn’t care if you have a background photo or nice title images on your widgets or rounded corners on your images.  Nor do your readers that use a content aggregation program like Google Reader, they’ll never see it.

Each day your content isn’t backlinked and indexed in the major search engines is a day wasted.  Content age and link age have a great deal to do with your ranking.  Worry about content first.

I am creating a number of brand new sites for a link building experiment I’m announcing next week, and I found myself spending an hour yesterday looking for and photoshopping together just the right background image for it.  BEFORE I’d written a shred of content for the site, BEFORE I’d created a single link to it, BEFORE I had any traffic at all.

Then I kicked myself.  Content first.  Design second.  Once the site it getting traffic, I’ll worry about prettying it up to keep visitors engaged.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: