The Designer’s Notebook

The Elephant in the Room.


Clients Creative

I’ve been thinking a lot over the past couple of months about content. All sorts of content, from brochure text, trade show display lists, and website pages. The old adage goes “content is King”, but from the point of view of many projects, actual content is more often the elephant in the room.

I say this from the perspective of a graphic designer who’s often charged with the task of creating something groovy to catch a customer’s eye, or do some fancy information architecture on a website so it is logical to read and navigate. The reality is – we hardly ever write anyone’s content. Oh, we might cut a tagline, or a bullet list here and there, but we rarely speak for our clients. Most often the disclaimer on the quote goes something like this: Client responsible to supply all copy and images.

I get the process here. We are not the experts in our clients industries. They are. The information is in their brains, not ours. So it is most logical to have the client write the copy, is it not? More and more, I disagree.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor.

Yes, clients are the experts in their fields – they build stuff, fix stuff…DO stuff, but we are the experts in our field, the field of visual communication –  we COMMUNICATE. I actually think clients would love to hear this: Copy to be written and inserted after content interviews are complete.

Design projects (website projects in particular) are often compared to building a home. It’s a long process requiring patience, investment and creativity. How many homeowners are required to prepare their own home plans for the contractor? Not many. Our clients are looking to us for guidance – how to say things, where to put them, how to sound – so why don’t we help them?

Design Informer wrote a brilliant article explaining why we should ban Lorum Ipsum.

The cold truth, I think, is cost and efficiency. It costs money. Most of the time adding 20 hours of extra time to a project to research and write creative copy is not in the budget. Add to that strategy services often required when planning content, and you can balloon the cost of a project significantly. But we will, as a some what late  New Year’s Resolution perhaps, try harder to offer to help. Sometimes we can offer more, and sometimes not – but in the new era of information, content really is king. And THAT’S coming from a graphic designer who likes (shamefully) drop shadows, glossy buttons and lots of texture.

So how DO you write content if you have 25 pages of website to write and you are not a writer? Back to the elephant. Another adage goes well here: How do you eat and Elephant? One bite at a time.

Let’s get started!

We’d love to talk with you about your company and where you want to take it.