The Super List of Content-First UX Resources

All the articles about mixing content strategy, copywriting and design

Everyone tells you to design with real content, but almost no one tells you how to actually make that happen. I’ve collected these articles about content-first user experience to help you defeat Lorem Ipsum and return the crown to content.

(Hit me up on Bigge Twitter if I missed anything. Last update: May 1, 2017)


Content-First User Experience — Steph Hay, SpoolCast 2014
“We’re looking at the words that we would use to communicate with a customer or a user. It allows everybody in the room to communicate. We all have this shared language. It’s not a wireframe.”

Designing With a Content-First Approach — Steph Hay, SpoolCast 2015
“Spending an hour copying and pasting language into a completely blank text file is a much faster, lower-risk way to isolate the content and test it with people than it is to just continually iterate on the design.”

Content and Design are Inseparable Work Partners — Jared M. Spool
“Our users don’t separate our design from our content. They think of them as the same. So, why don’t we?”

Designers: Stop Asking Copywriters To “Punch Up” Your Work
“Rather than instruct designers on how to be better writers, let’s instead look at how designers can better work with content professionals.”

Content Strategy: A Guide for UX Designers — Liam King, GatherContent
“Stuffing Lorem Ipsum into wireframes and prototypes is not a content-first approach.”

Writing-first Design — Jonas Downey, Signal v. Noise
“Sketching is great, but before I start sketching, I start writing.”

Five Principles for Great Interface Copywriting — John Zeratsky, GV
“I’ve learned that writing is a core part of the design process — as essential as interaction design, visual design, prototyping, and user research.”

The Most Essential Ingredient In Interaction Design? The Words
 “Interaction design succeeds or fails based on how well you can communicate with your user. Don’t underestimate the power of words in your communication.”

In Conversation With CFPB’s Natalie Kurz — Kate Garklavs, 18F
“I can’t stress enough how important it is to test wires and prototypes with actual content.”

How Copywriting Can Benefit From User Research — Marli Mesibov
“User research is a great tool for copywriters because it can help them to better understand how users speak, and what they want or need.”

Design the Beginning — Julie Zhuo, Medium
“We user-tested multiple versions of an early marketing page and it was immensely helpful in getting us to focus on a few key use cases.”

How to Integrate Copywriting in Your Startup’s Design Process
Empower your team to ‘design’ the text content alongside the visuals. When you work this way, your team can generate and test different competing solutions — and that includes different competing copy.”

Designing Content First For a Better UX — Liam King, GatherContent
“Why design content-first? Because content is UX.”

Q&A: Scott Kubie on Content Strategy, UX, and Design
“I’ve also observed that more content strategists are doing design work and more designers are working on content strategy.”

How to Work with Other People and Make Content Happen
“Content to design is a conversation, not a hand-off,”

Words As Material — Nicole Fenton
“I believe that writing is part of every design. If you can clearly define what you’re making and articulate its value, the steps to bring it out into the world will go much faster. It’s easy to put pixels together when you’ve already made decisions.”

Why Ads Are an Important Layer of Your Product’s UX
“Use what we learn in user testing to develop and test messaging for ads. This approach carves out a clear role for UX analysts and designers that doesn’t impinge on the traditional ad creative process.”

How to Build an Opinionated Product: Design the Marketing First
“Build first, market later is still a common approach. Hard work is wasted on features that don’t make the marketing headlines.”

What is Narrative UX? — Jessica Collier, Medium
“Design, in other words, is narrative. Yet the actual writing that a person sees when using an app is rarely the result of careful consideration.”

Words on Paper Prototyping — Ryan Bigge, Medium
“We’ve tried bleating ‘content is king’ for at least a decade. That trite slogan isn’t working anymore — not that it ever really did.”

The User’s Journey — Donna Lichaw, A List Apart
“We used story structure to figure out why people might drop off. Using narrative structure as our guide, we outlined a set of hypotheses that could explain why there was this cliffhanger.”

Content-First Prototyping — Andy Fitzgerald, Smashing Magazine
“I will show you how to use a simple set of open-source tools to introduce real, dynamic content into your prototyping process from day one.”

How to Design with Words — Ryan Bigge, TELUS Digital blog
“The result of building pages, products and services around words is a more effective collaboration between keyboard jockeys and pixel pushers.”

Getting Practical With Microcopy — Rade Brujić, Smashing Magazine
“It’s difficult to comprehend why content — and microcopy in particular — is often relegated to the bottom of design agendas. Shouldn’t writing copy be seen as a vital element of the design process?”

The Core Model: Designing Inside Out — Ida Aalen, A List Apart
“The core model helps the content strategist identify the most important pages on the site and helps the UX designer identify which modules she needs on a page.”

Content-First Design — Steph Hay, A List Apart
“This shift of working content first (conversation design) instead of structure first (system design) is how we worked for several weeks, before we ever moved to layout and design.”

Why Your Design Process Should Start With Content
“Content-first design is all about knowing what your design’s purpose is, and how it’ll achieve that purpose, before you start designing.”

Storyframes Before Wireframes — Fabricio Teixeira,
“What I like about storyframes is how much time it saves me in the end of the day. You can make pretty high-level decisions about the strategy, the flow, and the narrative.”


Design for Context Not the Device — Derek Featherstone, UX Thursday

Design & Content Conference — July 2017 in Vancouver

Speech Bubble User Flow — Barnabas Nagy

IXDA Speakers Panel: When Content Strategy and UX Converge

A gallery of real data for designers — cadence zero studio