Respect! Was the first panel I attended this year at 2008 SXSW Interactive Convention, and as a novice I really wasn't sure what to expect or what I would take away. The panel included several key personnel from HappyCog and they explored several aspects of the design and development process.
One concept that I really found interesting was the idea of designing with content in mind; and not just in mind but actually in hand and integrated during the entire design process. Imagine as a designer actually being able to know how much content will fill a page before you make the decision where to put a graphical element. It sounds great but the problem is that with 9 out of 10 projects, our clients have put no thought into their content before we begin the design. And content is the most important piece of their project. Sorry design, usability and features guys, but it is true. What you have to say on your website could be the difference between thousands, possibly millions, of dollars in revenue. It's not the client's fault, they just don't realize that if they're going to have a 10 page website then essentially they've got to write a 10-page paper about their company, and if they're not great writers they're probably going to procrastinate.
In the future, I will be making a big push to have the client deliver their content first which will solve two problems. The first, allowing the designer to create a design that fits around the text perfectly. The second, no more delays in closing out a project that is complete aside from undelivered client content.