Copywriting – Before or After the Design?

If you’ve ever watched Mad Men, you probably noticed that the copywriters are first in line. Once they’ve got the basic idea (usually a brilliant, alcohol-related epiphany), they hand over the copy to an art designer.

With modern businesses, the process often works in reverse… but not for any good reason.

Instead, the shift in the process was simply the result of technological changes: anyone can put together a website, and most people think of websites as being primarily design creations.

But for a business, design is secondary.

That’s not to say that design isn’t important, or that you can’t use smart design to make a good impression on your customers, but copywriting is what actually converts web visitors into customers.

And unfortunately, most popular web designs are terrible for converting customers.

Web Designers Are Not Marketing Strategists.

Although there are certainly exceptions, it’s important to remember that the average designer, no matter how graphically gifted, is not a marketing expert.


Sparse copy with tons of white space looks awesome, but it’s consistently less effective than long, visually tame sales pages filled with blocks of copy. (Just look at my own sales page, for example.)

You might not have a lot of choice in the matter. If you’ve already set up your WordPress site, don’t worry: you should be able to work around the design and create powerful, high-converting pages.

But there are many times when we have to choose between trendy design and effective sales strategies. If you’re running a business, go for the sales. (If you’re just creating a piece of art on the web, then by all means, put off your copywriter for as long as possible.)