When you think of design, your mind probably doesn’t immediately go to content writing. Those are two separate jobs, right? Not always.
In an ideal world, yes, designers are a specialized profession, and a content writer would give the designer the materials before going into the design phase. In the real world, the design oftentimes comes first before the content is finalized. This can be for a few reasons:
- Clients aren’t sure what or how much to write until they see the designs
- Clients may not have time to provide all the content
- Clients want a designer’s expert input on how to write user-friendly content
- Clients aren’t sure if the text will fit well into the design and don’t want to restrict creativity
So, how do you handle this and what do you do when a client doesn’t give all the materials you need? Here are a few tips!
- Understand that you’re not the industry expert
First, don’t expect to know everything. We as designers are not the experts in any industry, outside of design. Yes, we may have worked on something similar before and have a basic understanding, but we won’t know all of the terms and ins and outs of every particular business, nor the specifics of each business’s niche.
For example, if you’re creating a health website, you’re not expected to have the level of knowledge of a clinician or doctor. Be sure to recognize when you don’t understand an industry term and look it up or ask questions!
Sometimes it benefits the client if you don’t have that knowledge. If your client’s target audience is an average user, then you can quickly identify things that someone like yourself would not understand. This is an added benefit the client has of having a design team help with the content!
- Don’t be afraid to ask your contacts questions
Since you don’t know everything there is to know, ask your client or any contacts, questions about terms you may not understand. They may be able to refer you to someone within the company who can better answer your question or provide you with additional materials.
Pro Tip: When working on big projects, try to get an industry expert at the beginning of the project to help explain potential pain points and processes within the industry. This will only help you understand your target audience better and help you create a functional and beautiful design for your client!
- Understand their business
While you don’t need to know all of the key terms to create a successful design, you do need to understand their business, overall goals and challenges.
A high level understanding of who their target audience is, what is their value proposition, and what makes them different in the market are essential to understanding the project. These will help you create the framework for this client so they can then fill in the details with their own materials.
- Critically think about the content
When a client gives us the content, it’s our job as designers to put our critical thinking hats on.
- Will someone read all of this text? (Hint: If you’re asking yourself that question, the answer is likely NO! Go to your client and ask them to cut it down)
- Does it all make sense to me?
- Is there anything confusing about how the information is explained?
- Is there anything redundant that doesn’t need to be there?
Depending on the answers to these questions, challenge your client and offer suggestions to help make things more simple, sleek and attractive.
- Re-read the content (several times)
Busy CEOs and managers are prone to grammar mistakes and typos. They rely on a great design team to make sure designs are free of any errors. That means, as designers we are also copyeditors! Read it once, twice and then a third time. And then after the third time, ask someone to read it as well to make sure it all looks okay.
Now that you know the essential steps in writing content as a designer, you’ll be prepared for the next time you are handed a design project with no copy! Yes, ask for more content or supplemental materials, but try to direct the conversation with suggestions on how they can help you create the awesome content they need!
Interested in chatting more with us about design? Contact us at email@example.com.