For a moment, imagine yourself to be Batman. And, you are on your mission to save Gotham! And you need help. Who would you go to?
Robin. Your sidekick who is always there to help you fight evil or injustice.
Or if you are Sherlock, Dr. Watson is your man.
Or in case you want to be Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock is your rock.
Words play the same role in your life if you are a designer. Although the word ‘sidekick’ might sound degrading. It might make you feel that words can take a backseat. But here’s the catch in that sentence. We all know these sidekicks were more famous than the main character.
Think about the products you love most and tell me what’s one thing that you absolutely love about them.
I am sure you would say: delightful storytelling.
I have often seen designers struggle with storytelling skills. More so, they struggle with the reason as to why on earth they need to learn it.
Fair enough, I can very well understand the fix. It’s difficult to develop a crush for words when you are already married to pixels.
If I have to convince you, i.e. designers, to write good copy for your designs, then I must first convince you on why it’s important to tell stories. And why you can not just rely on visual aids.
Okay, hands down to your request.
In this post, I’m going to give you reasons to learn the art of composing a prose as vividly as you compose your illustrations.
On your mark? Let’s roll-
1. Words give your design a purpose
And who wouldn’t want that? You would agree that even when you design with high empathy and low bias, there are always some users who won’t get the purpose of its existence.
Good copy, at the right place, shows that you’re human. And if you are able to tap that aspect in your copy, it becomes easier for people to understand the purpose. It becomes easier for people to trust you and your brand. It helps them feel a real connection, an old-fashioned feel of interacting with humans.
Design without a good copy can be a creative mess. People will understand the purpose, but they won’t understand the need.
For a user who visits your website/product for the first time, a good copy helps them understand what you do, what’s your service or what are your brand values. It helps you answer the WHY of things.
2. When in doubt, words help you resolve a conflict
Dr. Seuss, an American author, and artist was famous due to his extraordinary ability to combine creative illustrations with vibrant storytelling. In an interview with Seuss under the title “Words and Pictures Married: A Conversation with Theodor S. Geisel”, he gives a truly magical explanation of why words are as important as visuals-
“Words and pictures are Yin and Yang. Married, they produce a progeny more interesting than either parent.”
Sometimes, when you are stuck, all you need is a hand which can take you places. Words play that role while you are using a product/application. A well-placed message can put a smile on user’s face. You can surprise them with a cheery delightful message when they are experiencing a conflict. Just as Snapdeal does it with this delightful visual (and copy)-
3. Words help you structure your imagination
No matter how well you design your website or mobile app; if the copywriting is confusing, it still counts as a bad experience for the user. No matter how great UX-inator you are; if you’re not careful with your words, your users will often face WTF moments.
And it’s not even a fight between terrible and bad copywriting. They both equally suck. Reading bad copy feels like a waste of time. It is confusing, it is maddening, it suggests you have no respect for your user’s time.
There is nothing wrong here if you look at the basics of it. But it’s confusing. Does it indicate clicking on “continue” to keep playing music on Jason’s iPhone? Or he is supposed to click “continue” to continue doing what he was doing, i.e. listening to music on MacBook pro?
I got confused explaining the confusion. Can’t imagine the fate of poor guy Jason!
4. Words help you amplify your reach
Good content gets shared. Good content shows your expertise. Good content gives positive experience. Good content helps you in building a brand image or market a product.
Not enough reasons?
Okay! Last one.
Good content helps in addressing your audience’s most urgent concern.
So even if the visual you designed might not be perceived as you wanted it to be, words will be. You just have to write the common language. Words are the ideal medium for every interaction. All you have to do is, weave it into stories and fit them into user’s context.
5. Words help you gain control over your idea
Ofcourse, you can contradict here with “a picture is worth a thousand words”, but before that read this quote-
“Design is the method of putting form and content together. Design, just as art, has multiple definitions; there is no single definition. Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated.”
Paul Rand, famous graphic designer
Art and design are two different subjects. You can never be sure if the idea with which you created the visual will be perceived by some other person as-it-is.
Did you know that it only takes about 50 milliseconds to decide a website’s visual appeal? Words help you gain that attention. You have got 1/20th of a second to make an impact, be sure you don’t lose it.
We all want to hear stories. How do you tell your story?