Why is my designer bugging me for content for my website?

I came across it again just a few days ago. Watching a software tutorial — actually, an evaluation of some WordPress plugins — the presenter joked about waiting upon web design clients for content. Everyone chuckled. It’s an acknowledged perennial issue — a headache for many web designers.

But what’s the big deal? Why the push for content? And by content, I mean any flavor: whether text, image, or video.

To explain, one can come at it from a few different angles.

“The sofa won’t fit”

If you wish, you can consider a house a metaphor for a website. After all, there must be plans (flowchart), blueprints (page structure), and elevations (design template). You have different rooms (types of page purposes). You get the idea.

So, in this case, perhaps you’ve indicated to your designer that you’ll have a couple of product photos for each item. So they build accordingly. Then it turns out that the photo count is more like a couple of dozen shots for each product, and even though about half of them are redundant or poor shots, there’s still too many snaps to effectively fit the framework your designer created. If she’d known, she would’ve built the product display pages entirely differently, and it would’ve worked out much better. Instead she built a room without seeing the size of your sofa, and either she tears down the walls or you get a different sofa. Not optimal.

“The walls are too pink”

When a designer doesn’t have your content, she may build with dummy content — whether “lorem ispum” text or generic blocks in place of images — and this may give a misleading impression of what your pages will look like, much the way an empty room looks so different than that same room with its furniture.

A closely related issue can arise when the web designer doesn’t know the range of data you’ll be presenting. Discrete displays (whether it be a news post, article, product listing, or profile) are greatly enhanced by the inclusion of “meta data” — that is, the little bits of information related to an item. If your designer has this information, she can use her skills to present it in an appropriate and appealing manner, much like how a creative and colorful garnish enhances your entree plate, piquing interest.

What about you?

Whether website owner or web designer/developer, what is your take on this? What have I missed or do I not understand?

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