Copy vs Design: Which One Should Come First When Building a Website?

When it comes to creating content for your website, there are two important elements to consider: copy and design.

Both are essential components of a successful marketing strategy, but which should come first? In this article, we’ll explore the debate of copy versus design and help you determine the best approach for your business.

Copy and design are two integral parts of any website design. Copy refers to the text that appears on your website, while design encompasses everything from the layout and graphics to the colours and typography used in those materials. The question is, which should come first?

Understanding the Role of Copy and Design

Before diving into the debate of which should come first, it’s important to understand the unique roles that copy and design play in a strategically designed website.

Copy is the primary way you communicate your message to your audience. It’s how you showcase your products or services, convey your brand personality, and persuade potential customers to take action. Copy is the backbone of your marketing strategy and should be crafted with care to ensure it resonates with your target audience.

Design, on the other hand, is all about visual appeal and user experience. It’s what catches your audience’s attention and draws them in. Design can make or break a website, as it’s often the first thing that people notice about your site and can affect how trustworthy your website feels.

The Argument for Copy First

While some website designers swear by designing first, there are several compelling arguments for starting with copy.

Importance of Messaging

Your message is the foundation of your website, and it’s essential to get it right before focusing on the design. By starting with copy, you can craft a compelling message that speaks directly to your target audience’s pain points and needs that isn’t constrained by the limits of the design. From there, you can work on designing a visual identity that supports your messaging.

SEO Considerations

Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial to ensuring your website ranks well in search engine results pages (SERPs). By starting with copy, you can optimise your content with relevant keywords and phrases, making it easier for search engines to find and understand your content.


Accessibility should be a priority for anyone building a website. By starting with copy, you can ensure that your messaging is accessible to everyone, including those with visual impairments who rely on screen readers to access content. By crafting copy that is clear and concise, you can create a positive user experience for all users.

The Argument for Design First

While there are valid reasons for starting with copy, some web designers prefer to begin with design. Here are a few reasons why:

Visual Appeal

As humans, we’re naturally drawn to visually appealing content. By starting with design, you can create a visual identity that catches your audience’s attention and draws them in. From there, you can work on crafting copy that supports your visual identity and reinforces your brand messaging.

User Experience

Design plays a significant role in user experience (UX). By starting with design, you can create a user-friendly website that is easy to navigate and understand. By focusing on UX first, you can ensure that your visual identity supports your messaging and helps your audience connect with your brand.


Design is an essential component of branding. By starting with design, you can create a visual identity that aligns with your brand’s personality and values. From there, you can craft copy that reinforces your brand messaging and creates a cohesive brand experience for your audience.

The Compromise: A Collaborative Approach

While there are valid arguments for both copy and design first, the truth is that neither should be prioritised over the other. Instead, a collaborative approach is the key to a successful website design.

By starting with both copy and design in mind, you can create a cohesive message and visual identity that work together to reinforce your brand and connect with your audience. Whether you’re working with freelance copywriters and designers or outsourcing to a design agency, it’s essential to have a process in place that allows for collaboration and communication between the copywriters and designers.

Best Practices for Combining Copy and Design

Both copy and design are essential to creating a website that meets your brands goals, so here’s some best practices for combining the two.


Balance is crucial when it comes to combining copy and design. Your messaging should be clear and concise, but it shouldn’t overshadow the design. Similarly, your design should be visually appealing, but it shouldn’t detract from the messaging.


Consistency is key when it comes to creating a cohesive brand identity. Your messaging, voice and design should be consistent across all marketing channels, from your website to your social media channels and other marketing materials.


Clarity is essential when it comes to copy. Your messaging should be easy to understand and accessible to all users, regardless of their reading level or language proficiency. Similarly, your design should be easy to navigate and understand.

In conclusion, the question of copy first versus design first is a complex one, with valid arguments on both sides. Ultimately, a collaborative approach that prioritises both elements is the key to a successful website design. By working together, copywriters and designers can create a cohesive message and visual identity that resonates with their target audience.

We always recommend working with a copywriter who is experienced in writing content for web, and we can recommend copywriters we personally trust to deliver great results. Once we have the finalised content, that’s when we can start to design a website that feels like it reflects the brand’s values and emphasises the messaging.

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