Leon Paternoster

Web worker and blogger since 2008

Putting content and meaning first

The very talented Florent paid my website a very nice compliment, calling it an example of ‘content first’ design.

Recently I also discussed how people use the word minimalist to describe my Scherzo theme. For me, ‘content first’ is a far more useful term, although it does beg the question who wouldn’t put their content first? (I suspect the answer is actually lots of people.)

But… content is often seen as something that’s simply placed into design. The term content encourages this way of thinking; while designing outwards makes more sense than designing the content bucket first, not knowing what this content consists of, what it’s for and who’s reading it makes design more difficult.

In an ideal world the audience will determine what content we design, the prominence of certain elements and our type’s size and weight. We might also consider our tone and select a supportive typeface (or even something ironic), which, in turn, will have an effect on colour, measure, line height etc.

Thinking about what we produce rather than an abstract notion of content should inform a more succesful design.

For that reason I like Julien’s idea of meaning first as it makes us think about real articles, pictures, video etc. rather than a blank commodity. I think I’ll appropriate the term, even if Julien doesn’t agree with my interpretation :-)