Writing and Design Need to Work Together
by Alex Shippee in Labels: , , , ,

Writing and design need to work together. It can be easy to choose a single side in the verbal vs. visual debate, but they both serve a crucial role on the web.
Blogs are a publishing tool. So is Twitter. That's why it’s called a “micro-blogging" platform. They are both ways to transmit written content from a writer to a potential audience. There are some great picture and video blogs out there, but originally and primarily they are for writers.
Some of the best blogs in the world have perfectly acceptable designs (you can even say quirky and inspiring) but not a distracting amount. It has to be professional and meaningful in order to keep the visitor's attention in those first crucial moments. Lazy design will turn visitors off immediately and nobody will take your content seriously.
But it cannot do the work of growing an audience or delivering value the way written content can.
You can't rush through a book. You have to take the time to engage with the ideas, consider them internally, and actively try to learn something from them. An audience takes that bit of effort very seriously and, in an increasingly impatient culture, it can be harder and harder to hold their attention.
We need to appreciate the length of time readers, instead of viewers, will need to invest.
But we can't turn to dolled up banners when the challenge of growing an audience seems impossible, just because it’s easier than turning that attention inward and learning to write better. That honesty doesn’t come easy and pictures and colors are simpler to work with. They reflect something back at you with a satisfying directness: that’s a McDonald's, that’s a cat, and that’s a stick.
And what’s the writing? Is it a hard earned reflection on your life and personality? Or is it a well branded series of paragraphs that makes no bold statement and flirts only occasionally with empathy?
The thing is, the saying, "You can't judge a book by its cover" goes both ways: good visuals can't disguise sloppy writing, and poor design will diminish even the strongest blog post or book.
In the best scenario, they're crafted alongside each other to create a single, harmonious experience. They work together to engage both those vital needs for the visitor.
And they both appreciate our time.

Seriously. You can graduate college on Monday and continue excessive partying and shirking adult responsibilities on Tuesday. And years after that. Until the tiny little pressures of the "real world" push you where they want you to go.
You can get a job somewhere, anywhere - waiting tables or in the professional world - and never have to confront the anxiety and fear that crops up when you think about some far away dream.
It could be anything: travel, living in a particular place, starting a family, writing that novel...literally anything. The thing about dreams is that they are limitless and resist compromise. They belong wholly to yourself and don't depend on others.
But that type of freedom can be terrifying at first. That's why I think I gravitate towards rules and guidelines; they help me focus and stay on track. I can safely avoid the discomfort of scary thoughts and risky choices.
I'll have graduated from college a year ago next month. It made me stop and think: how have I changed? Was it for the better? Have I made the choices to go in a certain direction, or did I only respond to the pressure?
I'm not sure, but I'm starting to hear the gentle undertones of something more being spoken under gilded words and stern reprobations. I'm learning what needs to be said in the right situations and what to avoid. It's getting easier to play the game.
And I don't know if that's what maturing feels like, or if it's just dishonesty.