Conventional wisdom may tell us that a picture is worth a thousand words, but let's be honest -- there are some really awful pictures out there (and some equally awful thousand-word stories). When the right words come together with the right picture, though, that's magic.
Effective design isn't always an easy process. A good design brief is just the start of it. It's important to have a communications team and a design team that works well together. We all know what it looks like when they don't -- the artwork and copy go through a million drafts, arguments ensue, and when the final version goes to the client, it gets rejected. Then, it's back to the drawing board. All in all, not a fun time for anyone.
Here are three essential tips for integrating your design and communications teams so that your end product is just what you need.
1) Work in Tandem
One of our graphic designers made the comment the other day that the blank page can be a terrifying thing. It's hard to start a project when you have no guidelines.
If you can provide a little bit of copy to your design team, they can start incorporating that into wireframes and mock-ups. If your communications team can see a rough mock-up of the design, they can start writing copy that hits the right tone and length. Copy can inspire design and vice versa.
Sharing as you go helps inform the whole process, so you know how much copy to write for a website or how much space should be blocked out for copy. This also helps you see what's not working earlier on so you don't end up at your deadline, scrambling to fix mistakes.
2) Don't Be Thin-Skinned
There's an artist in all of us, whether we're graphic designers or wordsmiths. However, we need to leave the stereotypical artistic temperament at home. (You know the one. It whispers, "My ideas are golden and should not be altered.")
Constructive criticism is important at work. Your end goal is to create an amazing deliverable. So, it's less about art and more about a product. It's crucial to have communications and design teams that can point out when something isn't working, whether it be an image that slightly misses the mark or text that just doesn't fit the tone of the overall design.
3) Edit and Test
This is my favorite part of the process and one that I think doesn't get enough attention. Often, we are so immersed in our work that it's hard to see the glaring mistakes, and even harder to see the tiny errors. Text can get copied and pasted incorrectly. Words can be misspelled. Images might be slightly off center. One shadow might be coming in at a 45° angle and another at a 90° angle.
At this point, grab a pair of fresh eyes -- someone who wasn't part of the initial project -- and have them look over everything. They should pay close attention to spelling, grammar, punctuation, spacing, line height, color consistency, content hierarchy, and branding guidelines, to name a few.
At the end of the day, all your design and communications elements should seamlessly work together to enhance your inbound marketing efforts. You don't want a picture that's worth a thousand words, you want a website that's worth (at least) a thousand customers.
To learn more about putting this into practice, watch our latest on-demand webinar on website design tips for inbound marketing that will drive traffic and increase your customer base.
Originally published Mar 16, 2015 11:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017