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Why designers should sit next to copywriters

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by Bryan Dollery
on

Whatever your team is working on, collaboration is key. When it comes to the look, feel and messaging of your end product, success is dependent on the joint work of the copywriters and designers. According to InVision, one of the biggest mistakes the creative duo can make is not sitting next to one another – and we agree.

two-women-working-together

Our copywriters and designers are often pulling up chairs at one another’s desk, and it pays off. When creatives start to share a desk once in a while, these are three improvements to the creation process you can expect to see.

A stronger kick-off

A good piece of content strikes a balance between copy and design – one doesn’t overshadow the other. But if a team starts with either a wireframe or a copy doc, there is a risk of one dictating how the other pans out. So where should we start – visuals or copy? “The answer is complex and multifaceted,” notes InVision, “but often the answer can be “neither.””

Of course, you need to start from somewhere – and in our experience, that “somewhere” should be agreeing on the core message. If designers and copywriters work together right from the get-go, they are more unified in their direction from the very start. The sooner the copy and design are created with the same core message in mind, the stronger the final piece is likely to be.

Putting the “progress” in “work-in-progress”

Let’s say that work is in full-swing for our copy-design duo. As well as figuring out things that work, they’re also figuring out things that don’t, but handing copy docs and mock-ups back and forth is hardly the best way to do that. Not only is it time-consuming, but the copywriter and designer might lose a sense of what the other is trying to achieve.

“Designers need to realize the importance of creating designs that focus the reader’s attention on the copy,” Quick Sprout points out, “and copywriters need to be flexible enough in certain instances to write headlines and copy that fit in with the design concept.” This kind of working relationship can mean a smoother creation process and better-quality work – and sharing a desk every now and then is a good way to get there.

A united front in the face of changes

Changes are a fact of life for anyone involved in creating digital content. While feedback can be useful, some comments might focus on one particular element only, without considering how it affects others. “Change this image,” a client might say, or “use these words instead of those words.” When requests for changes do not consider the creative piece as a whole, the copywriter and designer need to assess the broader impact that any one change can have.

“There are almost no cases when words don’t go with design,” notes UX Planet. “Icons with names, forms with labels, instructions, step by step guides. These are all user interface.” It’s no surprise then that visuals and copy should be reflective of one another, and not just in the more obvious ways – like images that show the thing to which the copy refers – but also in more subtle ways like tone and feeling. So a quick change to a sentence here or an image there is sometimes not possible – at least not without making similar changes elsewhere in the creative.

Give it a try

OK, so it’s not always feasible to be in the same place at the same time. It’s a digital age after all, and with all the tools available to us today, teams can collaborate from different places around the world. The bottom line is that the designer and copywriter should work together throughout the course of a project, from initial planning to making those much-loved final changes. This can save time and ensure that the messaging remains consistent in the final version. And the “final-final” version. And the “final-final-2.0-LOCKED” version.

References:

Design inside: https://www.invisionapp.com/inside-design/mistakes-copywriters-designers/

Quick Sprout: https://www.quicksprout.com/copywriting-and-design/

UX Planet: https://uxplanet.org/copywriting-is-interface-design-10cb931ecb53