Monthly Meeting Review, October 2020, Writing is Designing

Writing is Designing
Andy Welfle and Michael J. Metts

The OHIOSTC community was joined virtually by Andy Welfle UX Content Strategy Manager at Adobe and Michael J. Metts a Senior UX Architect at Allstate Insurance for their presentation: Writing is Designing, Words And The User Experience.

They are the co-authors of the book Writing is Designing, available here.

Virtual monthly meetings, which lack the networking component, must be compelling and provide valuable content. With these speakers, the program committee was completely successful. The content was valuable and immediately applicable.

Writing, which is the critical component in good communication, should include designing considerations; good visual design alone is insufficient if the writing is not part of the design process.

Terminology: 

  • Writers are also content designers
  • Designers refers to visual designers
  • UX refers to user experience. 

The presentation opened with a quote from Nicole Fenton (co-author of Nicely Said), “I don’t write fiction or short stories; I use language to solve problems.”

The difference between writing and designing: “Writing is about fitting words together. Designing is about solving problems for your users.” 

Writing is Designing integrates the two functions so that the content designer (writer) is looking at the entire messaging deliverable, not just the text.

Visual design is not effective without the text. To integrate the text with the design, content designers need to write with a UX mindset. 

To illustrate, the presenters used several real-world examples. For example, when evaluating the text associated with a button in an interface, start by asking the question, should it be a button? If so, does it need to be identified as such or is the design sufficient to communicate the intended function. 

Content designers need to “see the bigger picture, context matters.” Designers are visual while content designers, are concerned with strategy.

Content designers, when developing text for user interface should be creating content that is useable, useful, and responsible. To do this they must understand the purpose and context of the communications.

In considering writing and content, “there are no right answers,” what is appropriate for a given situation may vary. It’s about thinking about the content so that you can use design while discovering the different ways to communicate and finding the best way.

What does success look like? “Ask the user if you achieved the goal, the goal is usability.”

A UX designer is focused on a user-centered design. A content designer looks at the user centered design but further ensures the text supports the overall communications strategy so that the content is usable.

Contact information for the presenters: www.writingisdesigning.com

Michael: mjmetts.com

Andy: andy.wtf

Reviewed by Paul Holland