by Laine Plummer
Creatives are commonly classified as introverts. So it’s not surprising that when two creatives start a project, they don’t always default to up-front communication. It’s not uncommon for designers to receive content written without consideration of design strategy. And as a copywriter, I’ve struggled to fit copy into an inflexible design template.
Bad collaboration is easy to spot, and it doesn’t look good on anyone. Watch out for the symptoms of poor teamwork, and — if you see them — remember the following tips to make your next creative act a successful duet.
Signs of trouble
Awkward line breaks
The words might sound good, but they need to look good, too. Too much (or too little) white space can make the whole piece feel disjointed. Give content the eyeball test to make sure it’s an appropriate length for its container, then trim or add words to restore balance.
Does it look weird? Because it feels weird.
This is what happens when one of these things (the image) is not like the other (the words). For example, imagine the headline “High-Speed Internet for Big City Living” paired with rural imagery. See the disconnect? Quick fix: consider the message before selecting an image.
Confused? So is she.
Cyclical user flow
A few words about buttons: what they say is where they should go. If you’ve designed a button with the call-to-action “Learn more” that leads to unrelated content, the user has to work harder to find the right information. Walk through the user flow with your copywriter to craft the right message for the experience you’re trying to create.
Poor mobile formatting
Fact: content written specifically for desktop is hard to digest on mobile. Users want to tap and swipe, not scroll for days. Solve this by trimming or reorganizing content to fit inside a smaller space. Hide content in tabs, or use accordions or drop downs to condense long lists.
Your mobile site got me like..
It’s that awkward moment when you, the designer, want to make a suggestion about the content — but you’re afraid it might come off as unwarranted criticism. (Or vice-versa.) We’ve all been there. More frequent collaboration builds the bond you both need to share candid feedback.
Conquering creative dissonance
The good news about poor collaboration is that it’s 100% treatable. At Red Ventures, we try to start and end projects together. Replicate this process on your team with a few simple steps.
Find a whiteboard or a sketch pad. Grab some time with your creative counterpart and map out a detailed outline. Talk through messaging hierarchy, imagery selection and user flow. You’ll each walk away with a clear vision and to-do list.
Game plans for the win.
Keep close contact
Work on your pieces independently — but keep the communication going. Marinating on a headline? Send it to the designer to see how it looks. Frequent communication keeps the project moving and reduces the number of iterations.
Review and refine together
Review rough drafts together before sharing with other team members, and exchange constructive feedback to make any necessary tweaks. A dual review at the end of a project ensures that you’ve landed on a final version you can both feel proud of.
Teamwork makes the dream work.