This is a guest post by Shenee Howard – a writer, designer and lover of all things innovative. She is currently in start-up mode, developing her new creative power house, You’ll Look Great. She tweets about fun things she finds around the internet and her ( hopefully) temporary life in the suburbs @sheneeh. She’s on Facebook too.
When you are branding for a client, you shouldn’t just be trying to make them look good, you should also be telling their story. Isn’t that what a website is all about? Websites are tools for outreach. As designers, it is our job to present our clients in the best way possible. Here are some ways we can use textbook writing rules to help create depth within our own designs.
Hook them with the opening
All of the most celebrated websites have it. An amazing homepage.The opening page is where we all decide whether or not we will go any farther. All designers go about it in slightly different ways. For some designers, this means big and bold typography. Other designs use simplicity and beautiful photos. Kill them with the opening and keep them coming back for more.
Adapt the writing process
- Brainstorm/ Research | Sketches / Wireframes / Inspiration Digs – Pretty self-explanatory. This is the fun part for both writers and designers. Ideas and concepts start to form. Start thinking of a color story and theme for your blog. Sketch out any and all ideas, even if they seem ridiculous.
- Rough Drafts | Computer time for designers – Time to turn on the computer and start putting concepts to design. Play around with different ideas, don’t get caught up on one structure or design. Develop a couple concepts to choose from. Don’t edit your creativity as you go along. You think that flourish might be too much? Who cares. Leave it. You can come back to it later.
- Editing | Editing /Purge- Start making decisions. Develop a clear vision for your design and go for it. Does that extra flourish add anything? Do you need to rethink your colors?
- Final Edits and Revisions – Make sure everything is spelled right and lined up the way you envisioned. Clean up some of the extra things we always end up in our psd file. Get it coded and ready.
- Final Product – ftp that sucker!
Get to know your characters ( clients )
It doesn’t matter who you are designing a website for, there is always a story. A lot of the time designers get caught up in our own vision and get upset with clients for not sharing it. If you take the time to learn more about who you are designing for, you are able to better blend your style with the vision they already have and even show them something new. You can tell when a designer and a client are on the same page.
Join a Community and share your work
Writers join groups so they can constantly get feedback on their designs and get better. Designers should be doing the same thing. You don’t have to really “know” any fellow designers anymore. There are hundreds of design communities out there and designers love to give feedback on work that isn’t their own.
Write with a clear tone
Make sure your website is representing a clear point of view. Keep your design consistent throughout the pages. You don’t want people to get to a new page and forget where they are.
Avoid flowery language (over designing)
This is common in both the design and writing worlds. There is nothing worse than heavy handed writing. Too much fluff and design is never a good thing. You can create beautiful, illustrative designs without overpowering the message.
You can’t learn too much
Writers are always reading books. Writing students know that the more you read, the better you get. While I am a firm believer that too many web galleries can kill creativity, designers should always know what’s going on. Don’t just surround yourself with the web design community. Immerse yourself in creativity. Read books about architecture or music. Get inspired by reading articles on movies and music. Read about writing too.
The Notebook: Friend to both designer and writer
Inspiration for your website comes when you least expect it. Just like a writer who gets inspired by their postman, a designer might get inspired by a billboard or magazine cover. Buy a book and keep it with you, even if you don’t use it. The idea of it will make you feel more creative. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Everyone uses field notes and moleskins but I use the little notebooks my dad sends me from accounting seminars.
If you are a designer, try your hand at writing an article for a publication. It’s a great way to get some exposure for your work. Do we have any writers/designers out there? Does writing help your design and vice-versa?
If you need something to take you away from designing during your off-time, next month is Novel Writing Month. 1 month, 50,000 words. I’m trying it for the first time and I would love some fellow designers in there with me. It’s cold outside anyway, right?