Design Expert Q&A: How Writers Can Impact Content Design

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In the B2B world, we always hear from marketers and strategists on best practices, tips for engagement, and so on, but what about design? The best written content can be lost in a sea of others if it doesn’t have a visual impact. Prioritizing your content’s design is key if you want to stand out amongst your many competitors.

So this week, we asked our Director of Digital Design, Savannah Heil, for some tips on how our teams can best collaborate and what’s important to keep in mind when designing B2B content.

Q: What design principles should a writer know to best contribute to a well-designed piece?

You can leave the bulk of the design theory in designers’ hands, but keeping these three principles in mind as a writer will go a long way toward setting your design team up for success when you’re collaborating on a visually driven content piece:

  • Emphasis: What is the main point? Think of potential callouts, sidebars and data that can be shown graphically or set apart to reiterate that main point. This is also important to break up walls of text.

  • Repetition: As a writer, you can assist design with repetition by writing your text in sections that will mimic each other. For example, breaking the story into four sections, then breaking those sections further into three points each. Design will use this structure to create a flow that is easily digestible by the viewer.

  • Whitespace: Many writers want to give as much detail as possible, but that limits the amount of whitespace that your designer can use (especially in a piece that has a page limit, for example). Whitespace gives the elements room to breathe, and it lets the viewer digest the given information without being overwhelmed.

Q: What are some general tips for designing B2B content?

Don’t be afraid to go digital! Creating interactive content can be intimidating at first, but to keep up in a competitive B2B market, you have to follow the trends. Digital marketing is the future, and that’s especially true this year during a global pandemic.

responsive design

If you’re creating digital content, don’t forget to think of your user’s experience. Today, over 50% of all web traffic is coming from a mobile device. Prioritizing responsive design (design that is adaptable depending on the size of the device being used) is more important now than ever.

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Reuse and repurpose your content in new ways. This will save you time and allow you to test which formats and styles perform better with your target audience when planning for future content.

Q: Are there design rules that you should never break, particularly as we fight to stand out?

Like I mentioned, there are design principles that are used as a basis for all of design. However, in our ever-evolving technological world, people are finding new ways to break these rules successfully.

One example that comes to mind is the grid system introduced many years ago as a typical recommended page layout that includes alignment and proper spacing. You should still use this grid system as a starting point, but more and more designers are thinking outside of the box (or the grid!) to create great layouts.

Using a theme is a great excuse to break the grid. Our marketing team used a “graffiti robots” theme when designing this fun, eye-catching layout that doesn’t follow any sort of grid. However, you’ll notice that the repetition of elements such as the paint splatters and consistent fonts helps the user recognize patterns throughout the content, which keeps them comfortable and engaged.

Infographics can and should break the grid, because they rely heavily on graphics to tell the story. Infographics for Cox Media and SOC Telemed demonstrate some interesting approaches to graphically laying out information without any boundaries.

Q: Do you have tips for writing interactive assets?

Include stats and data whenever possible. This makes for a great break from reading and opens the door for some really interesting interactive and/or animated graphs and charts.

Can you write your paragraph In the form of bullet points? Bullet points are a great way to include some popular interactive elements such as carousels, flipboxes and popups.

Write your content with a structure that can guide the navigation. Users can glide through even very long Interactive pieces to find the parts they’re most Interested in if you give them good navigation toolsespecially “sticky” navigation that stays on the screen and follows the user throughout the experience.

Q: What are best practices for editorial and design to work together?

Collaboration is key from the very beginning of asset creation. The best assets are the ones in which editorial and design work closely together from the outline stage. Designers love getting ideas on layout, graphic elements and interactive components from the writers who are planning the piece to begin with.

Of course, we can and will use our imagination, but upfront input sets us on the right track at the beginning. This, in turn, will keep the asset from going off the rails and affecting the originally established timeline.

If you already have strongly written content, prioritizing design and collaborating with your designers from start to finish is the quickest way to take your content to the next level.

And now I have some homework for you: Reach out to your designers and get their opinions, ideas and feedback on upcoming content. You’ll be surprised (and likely pleased) with their perspective, and it just might be the key to creating your next killer content asset.

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