How (and Why) to Improve Your Writing Skills as a Designer

Writing is increasingly becoming a must-have design skill for professional designers.

Whether it is in tapping out interesting words to be used as placeholder text, text snippets, and customized mockup designs for teaching and demonstration, or it is simply in the creation of better emails, design resumes, and marketing blogs, good writing skills can make the work of a designer more professional and compelling.

John Maeda, head of computational design and inclusion at Automattic and former VP of design at VC firm Kleiner Perkins, says writing is designs’ “unicorn” skill. Forget coding, Maeda argues in his “2017 Design in Tech Report, words can be just as powerful as the graphics in which designers normally traffic.  

“A lot of times designers don’t know that words are important,” he said while presenting the report at a past South by Southwest (SXSW) event for film, interactive media, and music festivals in Austin, Texas. “I know a few designers like that–do you know these designers out there? You do know them, right?”

Here are some of the best tips and techniques to improve your writing skills as a designer.


Top Tips to Sharpen Your Writing Skills as a Designer


Let’s jump right in on the keys to sharpen your writing skills as a designer. After reading these tips, you should be able to improve your writing skills and hone your ability to create designs with proper textual aspects as well.


1. Understand your audience


The first step to improve writing skills is to identify and thoroughly understand your target audience. You need to know about the people who will be reading what you write.

Many times, we know who our audience will even before choosing the topic. Identifying the audience can provide us with clarity and help in writing content that is more meaningful. Moreover, it will help you understand how to write and what details to include in your writing.

For instance, you can write content that is aimed at different audience personas such as designers, developers, marketers, and more. Your content might focus on any specific persona, sub-section of that persona, or even multiple personas.

It is vital that you target your writing at a specific group, ensuring that it fits properly as per the audience’s specific needs.


2. Choose topics that resonate with your target readers


No matter how amazing your techniques are, it will be difficult to write engaging and compelling content if you do not have a topic in mind that resonates and connects with the reader.  

In case you are struggling to come up with great topic ideas, then perform further in-depth research about the audience and monitor trending topic on Google Trends. This way you’ll discover new ideas that the audience finds interesting or are actively searching answers for in your niche to write about. Providing them meaningful information will ensure the audience keeps coming back to your posts for information.

You can also study and refer to the writings of popular designers and other creative professional to see how they write. This will help you learn how to write content that engages the audience.


3. Brainstorm, brainstorm, brainstorm


Great ideas are birthed and refined by brainstorming. Though brainstorming works differently for different people, it works. Use it to improve your writing.

Once you identify your audience and choose a topic, take a piece of blank paper or open a text file, and start writing down all the relevant ideas, concepts, and themes you can think to cover when writing on the topic. Keep doing it until you can’t think of anything more points to add. You’ll start to see patterns emerging and your creative mind can now start connecting points and themes, leading to a full-fledged structure. If you are stuck, you can go back to the ideas and try to explain them individually.

After you are done with brainstorming ideas, proceed to research those ideas. Pick points from books that are relevant to what you are going to write on. Use Google search to collect more information that support your ideas. Create a folder and put all the relevant files and resources you’ve collected in that folder. Now, this folder will provide you with all the helpful information for completing the write-up.


4. Include stories in your writing


One of the most engaging aspect of good communication is storytelling. From ancient times, stories have been used to improve communication in religious scripts and even in the oral re-telling of stories from one generation to the next among tribal communities.

As we all know, humans are social creatures, and the way we share information holds importance. People will be fascinated even with a basic play of words, such as saying “That Cat is Fat.” This is a micro-narrative, communicating information through telling a story about a subject that interests the audience. So, include stories to improve your writing.

If you examine the stories and narratives used in communicating targeted messages in specific industries and niches, such as children’s movies, sports cars, and more – these all have one thing in common; a perfect arc of tension and resolution.

In complex contexts, there might be various arcs that could crisscross each other. But a good story will always have at least five basic but important elements: the characters, the setting, the plot, the conflict, and the resolution. Use these essential elements to keep your story running smoothly and to allow the action to develop in a logical way that the reader can follow and enjoy.


5. Keep it simple


Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. The moment you want to write, think of two masters of written English – James Joyce and Willian Shakespeare. Both of these authors wrote sentences that even children can understand even though the subjects they addressed were often complex. Today, it is recognized that a mark of great writing is keeping words as simple as possible. It makes for work that looks sacred and is reputable.

Besides, you should have the guts to cut out extraneous words from your writing ruthlessly. Understand that no matter how grammatically correct a sentence is, if it does not highlight a subject or idea in an easy to understand way, then you should not include it.

Moreover, aim to write like yourself and not to always copy other writers. Be authentic when expressing your ideas in writing. You’ll develop a unique writing style that sets you apart from other writers, which is a good thing. The more you feel comfortable with a writing style, the more natural your writing will appear to the audience. The audience tends to trust the writer who is genuine and sounds natural.

Final Words

It’s difficult to produce quality writing if you are not aware what is appealing to your audience. Always do your research and find topics your audience prefers to say relevant. Remember you are writing to improve the experience of the reader. So, keep their needs central in your writings.

Gary Wilson is a passionate writer who has been working in the app development business for the past few years. Due to his career choice, he keeps an update on everything tech related including app development. Whatever information he receives, he likes to share with everyone else and hence, has also taken up article writing. Follow @GerryyWilson on twitter for further details.