04 Aug

This is a story about teaming up with Designers.

I recently started working with a new team. The designers are super talented. Projects are amazing. But they needed content. So sure, let’s get to it.Until I receive a message that goes along the lines of “Here’s the template, mind filling in the lorem ipsums?”. I absolutely won’t.

Content and design are frequently (and mistakenly) portrayed as a chicken and egg situation. The question always seems to be which comes first. Vast amounts of energy are poured into that debate.

So which? The answer is both.

How can we organize Design + Content in a Workflow

One shouldn’t come before the other. Design should be crafted according to what the platform needs to say. Content needs to accompany the flow and aesthetic of the site. So designer and copywriter work together, brainstorm, share and build upon the ideas of the other.Very likely, there will be a “can we fill this blank” moment. Or a “this is the text we need to show” moment. But never as a final step to move on to the next task. It’s always a stage to try stuff, propose changes in length, display, hierarchy, and so on. It’s always teamwork.In my experience, when we shift the “which comes first” question to how do we create a dynamic workflow between one area and the other, the content as a whole comes out way more coherent and less prone to mistakes or off looking screens.

Can you provide an example?

Sure, why not. Let’s give it a try.It will vary, always. But here’s a way it could go:

  1. Both designer and content writer receive the brief.
  2. Meet to go over the concept and where they think it’s headed.
  3. If it’s a mostly design based project, start with design. If not, the other way around. This doesn’t mean do the work and pass it on, it means the first draft should be done by one or the other.
  4. Once the first draft is done, pass it on. Comment it on a meet or asynch via comments on Figma, Docs, whichever you choose. Start working taglines, titles, leaving feedback on the look and feel.
  5. Then, here are two ways it could go: work in parallel and see how content + design fit later on and adapt one to the other. Or work in turns. This will vary widely according to the size of the project, timeline, how much needs to be delivered, personal styles, etc.

For example, with Julchi (she’s in the photo above, we love her), we started an art project. We created a form with questions for the client to answer. We later organized that on a Figma and talked the content over.She looked for visual references. I started working on putting the concept in words.We got together and saw how that matched. She gave me her impressions on what I wrote. I gave her feedback on the moodboard. Once that was adjusted, we presented it to the client, since it was a more than coherent work by then.Once it was approved, I started working on the manifesto while she continued expanding and exploring the concept. Then with the manifesto she created visual pieces. And as she advanced on the visual exploration, she sent me files and pieces for me to comment on. And to think about other scenarios she might not be contemplating that we would need.But there’s never a fill the Lorem Ipsum. Or here, Design is done, start writing. Nor here, this is the text, make it fit. And in my experience, results have always been better this way.

What if we don’t have that much time?

Less time doesn’t mean you can’t work collaboratively. It just means you have to adjust.When we’re working on website content, for example, the content team thinks of a basic wireframe. Sections the web should count with, and the basic content that should go in each.Design will take that and create something with it. Many times making tweaks to the original wireframe if they believe it can be done differently.Once there is a basic design and modules, Content will fill in. If something doesn’t fit, needs to be longer, or should be merged, they leave comments to make those changes.And so the work gets done with both perspectives on board.I could go on forever, but this is enough, I believe, to through the egg chicken dilemma to the bin and start making content+design teams great again.

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