Copy and Design Go Together Like Peanut Butter and Jelly

Sure, a plain peanut butter sandwich is ok, but it’s a little dry. A plain jelly sandwich is also edible, but it’s lacking something. This is exactly how it is when you have a great design with uninspiring or meaningless copy, or great copy with a visually unreadable design. You need the two to be equally fabulous if you really want to have a winning combo that keeps people coming back for more. That’s why it’s so important for copywriters and designers to work together. We work in a content-focused industry, so we place high value on this symbiotic relationship.

Copy inspires design, design inspires copy

It’s tremendously helpful for a writer to see a design before writing. It gives them a sense of how much space they have to work with. They can also see how many titles, call outs, headings and other elements the design has that will need words.  It’s also great to see a design because it establishes the tone for the copy. A more playful design will call for less formal copy and a more corporate design will need something more conservative. For example, it would be really weird if a clinical website had lots of whimsical copy, wouldn’t it? That would be like having a clown give you a dental exam. That “dentist” would lose all credibility with you and you’d be looking for a new one realquick.

Especially if you’re afraid of clowns.

But just as the design can inspire the writing, the writing can also inspire the design in the same ways. It’s helpful for the designer to see how much copy there is and how many titles, call outs and headings they may need to make space for. The copy can also help the designer establish the tone and the audience so that the design works in harmony with the copy.

Writers and designers working together

Clearly it’s kind of a chicken or the egg situation when it comes to who inspires whom. Who goes first?  Does the designer come up with a design first or does the writer draft some copy?  That’s always the question, so what happens quite often is the designers and writers sit and work together. Lots of times there’s a wireframe and a sitemap (click here to learn more about wireframes and sitemaps) that they both work from at the beginning that helps them shape their own individual piece of the messaging and tone.

It sounds odd to think of a designer as someone with a message to convey because after all, don’t they just work with colors and layout and stuff? If you remember back to some of our past blog posts, you know that the colorsnavigation and layout have their own messages to convey and that they’re just as important as the copy. Design communicates volumes in its own right.

Designers and writers need time to bond

If you happen to be putting together a project and you hire a designer who does not work with a writer in-house, make sure they have a chance to meet one another or at least have a phone call so that they can have a chat and strategize together. Otherwise, there’s a chance you’re going to wind up with a plain peanut butter or plain jelly sandwich that will leave readers feeling empty and unsatisfied.

Put the two together, however, and you have a winning combination!

PS: It’s peanut butter jelly time!

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