A web designer that writes

A web designer that writes

This is magical.

You wouldn’t believe how much better your design will look, if you have writing skill. I came to realise this a little bit late, but I am glad I truly understands this now.

How I realised

As a designer, having content before designing is like having a battle between unicorn and t-rex. Ok, probably thats a little too much, but close enough. Most of my past projects start with wireframing with lorem ipsum and gray boxes. Sometimes I don’t even have the name of the project. =D So I got used to it for a long time.

One odd day while having a conversation with Reuben, a copywriter colleague, he said to me “…maybe you should start writing too”. Challenge. A challenge that usually I would counter back with some cock talk, which I did. Then, when I went back to my work, I quietly took the challenge and applied it into my design. My small Chinese eyes widen.

Writing, writing everywhere

So, now I am starting to write and it is freaking tough. No joke. Writer is not an easy career.

After taking the baby steps to start writing, I have learned that writing skill is very useful. Combining with design skill, I designed better drafts. And with programming skill, I take even more simpler and organised notes. My emails are much more cooler (note that my preferred tone is casual and silly, like silly penguin). So are my wall posts, tweets and comments. Heck, I even started reading books.

Writing in web design

Do we have to write in every single design? Why must we write? I’m not a copywriter. Is not my job to write… blablabla…

It’s fine my dear. No one is threatening you to write by dropping Hiroshima bombs to murder your cat. It is a self improvement that I took and found beneficial to my career. And this doesn’t apply to every web design project I have.

I don’t write

  • When I don’t care about the website [old me]
  • When I don’t have an idea what’s the website for [old me]
  • A web application that focus on functionality, not content
  • A brochure website

I write

  • On most of the web projects
  • When I did a similar website before by recycling copy
  • When client says they will have the content ready when the design is done
  • When client have no idea what to put online, until they see the frames
  • Because I’m really awesome

This whole point of writing in web design is that, you better figure out what you want to “say” before you start pushing pixels around, or you’re in a whole mess of trouble.

You can too

Start with title. Kick out lorem ipsum from that title and start writing, whatever word you feel most suitable. Everything else remain lorem ipsum. You will instantly feel that the images you used or the visual arrangement are different. Do you want to increase the focus of the heading? Or that section aren’t that important and need to shrink it. Or even the image wasn’t quite fit. You will get a sense of joy and confidence if you tie everything right.

Then move on writing the first lorem ipsum sentence. This is where I am now and I think it is sufficient. It gives a even clearer idea where that section and those headings lead to. Presenting it to others is such a breeze now and it helps to send out the message clearer. You do not have to write the whole thing. Only the heading and first sentence, and buttons too.

“Content precedes design. Design in the absence of content is not design, it’s decoration.” - Jeffrey Zeldman

Right on.

Posted on 21 August 2013

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