Writing and Design – the power couple

Historically, content layout and type setting were key to ensuring the reader had a positive experience and could absorb the information. This is where the editor came in at a newspaper press office, as words would be changed, not because the writing required it but because the design did. Here, Carla Stanton, graphic designer at Stone Junction explains how to maximise communicating effectively.


Write with the reader in mind
Content and design elements need to be built together to create the most effective means of communication. Here at Stone Junction one of our core values is to write with the reader in mind. 

Your audience and purpose should always be at the heart of everything you create. Someone reading online will have a shorter attention span compared to someone who has allocated time to sit and read through a printed magazine. 

Equally, it’s important to understand your target market. A design engineer will have totally different needs to a production manager. 

You have to be interested to be interesting
Whether it’s marketing collateral, editorial or advertising, the aim is to get some great visual and digestible content that you, your client and their audience will love. If you can’t find a way to get interested in the idea, they might not either so keep this in mind from the start. 

Involving a designer in the project early on can help too, as they may see a new concept or help spark some ideas that have you all singing from the same hymn sheet. And don’t forget, words need to complement the visual appeal, so you need to make your point in a short and captivating way if you want your reader hooked. 

The saying ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ wasn’t plucked out of thin air — remember this when you are writing copy for visual design. Think about balancing sentences and word counts of individual points to avoid overloading the reader with information. Sticking to a word count for the entire article is also vital, especially for specific sized documents. 

Marketing is about your customer’s future
“You can’t expect to be the star of the show in every performance — different design projects involve major or minor roles for the writer,” explains writer Jim Davies in his 12-point manifesto on writing for design. 

When working with and briefing a designer you need to be engaged with the concept and meet the clients requirements, not your personal preferences. 

Always review the following: Who is it for? What are the objectives or goals? Where will it be used? Why are you doing it? When is the deadline? How flexible can the design be? 

These questions all link back to considering your audience and the purpose of the job. They will also help you brief the designer, avoid misunderstandings and minimise amends.

Effective Visual Communication
Be sure to brief your designer well in advance of the deadline. Allow time for amends from all parties to both design and copy. If there is a need for print, consider the time for artwork approval and delivery of the final goods. 

You may need to plan a schedule if it’s a large-scale project and set final deadlines for each step along the process, especially if it’s part of a greater campaign. You don’t want to give the designer a short deadline because others have not stuck to theirs. 

It also pays to be mindful when speaking to the designer and giving feedback. Structured and objective feedback should be clear and helpful to the designer and try to avoid bringing your personal preferences into the mix by keeping your target audience in mind. 

If you didn’t know, content PR is what we do best so if you need to discuss any content design projects or want to get us involved in a design brief you can contact me at carlas@stonejunction.co.uk or call us on 01785 225 416.

Anonymous

Stone Junction is a cool technical PR agency based in Stafford. We work for all sorts of businesses, with a particular focus on technology, technical and engineering companies. We like being sent cake and biscuits by clients, journalists and prospects.

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