Chicken or Egg? Who comes first, copywriter or designer?
March 27, 2013 11:44 AM   Subscribe

I want an awesome website and I have wireframed the whole thing. I am planning on using the design contest process on 99designs and I have found an amazing copywriter on Odesk. Who should do their part of the work first?

So, if I hired an agency to build this, obviously the copywriter and designer could talk, get coffee, have meetings and brainstorm. But I don't think I have that luxury. The way 99designs works I can get revisions, and in theory I could have my Odesk copywriter give input on the designs I get on 99design. But still, the essential question remains:

(1) --Who should do their job first?'

----1a----Do I get all the copy and give it to the designer with the wireframe?
----1b---Do I give the wireframe to the designer and give that output to the copywriter?

(2) How do the pros do it? What is the website building process in a crazy-cool urban shop?
(3) I am assuming that I bring in my coder once I have the photoshop design files from 99designs and the copywriting finished. Is this assumption correct? Is there any reason the coder needs to be brought in earlier?

Bonus Question.... As I go through this process, I don't have a budget to go around twice. Any tips for me to manage costs and get what I want as I go through the outsourcing process?

**Thanks to all of you that take the time to answer. I am continually amazed at the generosity and intelligence of the mefi community.
posted by gravitypanda to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It depends what the client's priority is, to be honest. If your priority is a great visual identity, have the design done first. If your priority is compelling text, have the copy done first.

As a copywriter myself, I prefer to work with an existing design, because the visual structure often helps shape my approach to the text (both literally and figuratively "shape" it).
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:48 AM on March 27, 2013

When starting from scratch, my motto has always been "content drives design" - don't build or number the buckets until you know what's going in them, how large each one needs to be, etc. My vote is, all copy gets written first.
posted by jbickers at 11:49 AM on March 27, 2013

Copy first, then tweak it if necessary to work with the design. Without the copy, you don't know what you're designing.
posted by ceiba at 11:58 AM on March 27, 2013

I agree that content drives design but if you are already committed to your wireframes, I think that decision has already been made.

If your budget is in the odesk/99 Designs range, I would strongly consider you to first find an affordable wordpress theme that is close to the visual style and content structure you want (I've had good luck with themeforest). I realize it feels like your idea is unique but I promise you there are only so many ways to skin a cat and there is a really high chance someone has already made something pretty close to your idea, meant for affordable purchase by people such as yourself.

Next, I would hire a Wordpress developer to tweak the theme to get it closer to your wireframe. A great place to start would be asking the theme creator for a quote based on the changes you want made.

At this point, if the design is still not quite what you want, hire a UI designer with front-end coding skill to tweak the CSS file.

As a designer I can tell you that 99 Designs is 99% junk and adding a copywriter into the mix is asking for chaos. The amount of money you are likely going to pour into the coordination and revisions stage of this is scary, IMHO.

You do not have the budget for quality custom work from scratch. And with so many lower cost options available, I would start there.
posted by halseyaa at 12:04 PM on March 27, 2013 [8 favorites]

I agree with halseyaa's last two paragraphs.
How do the pros do it?
Pros don't do spec work.

The previous comments are correct; content first, then design, then code. But check to see if a for-pay theme would work, especially if your coder can make basic changes so you look a little more bespoke.
posted by Brian Puccio at 12:20 PM on March 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Google indexes the copy, not the design. Content Is King.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 5:05 PM on March 28, 2013

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