Marketing

Improving communication between content and design teams

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Content and design—it’s always been a chicken-and-egg conundrum. Design needs content, and content needs design. But communication between content and design isn’t always so smooth.

Here’s the process we used at Yotpo to improve communication between our content and design teams.

Speak one another’s language

Design and content need to work harmoniously—and there’s no way for this to happen if you don’t speak the same language.

It’s one obstacle to not speak the same literal language. Take it from me, a non-native English speaker who works with an in-house team of Americans as well as a handful of freelancers in different countries. But speaking the same creative language helps you overcome language barriers.

“Content creators and designers need to know how to ask for what they want.”
content-01

Projects work best when designers aren’t just service providers copying and pasting content, and content creators don’t just send a brief and sit back to wait for a finished design. Designers should feel free to have a say in the content. And content should feel the same way about commenting on the design.

In order to comment effectively, content creators and designers need to know how to ask for what they want. As designers, we’ve all been there. Someone comes up to you and just says, “Make it prettier,” or “Can you improve this?”

yotpo-1

Beyond the style guide

The first step to speaking the same language: understand the style guides for both content and design. When I know that every word in a headline needs to be capitalized, or that bulleted items shouldn’t end with a period, it helps me catch mistakes the content team may have missed.

Additionally, when the content team understands that we use specific icons and colors, it helps designers ensure consistency across materials. It’s not enough to just have a brief—everything needs to be clear enough so there are no questions about expectations, there are fewer problems and gaps at the end, and everyone’s on the same page about the intention for the final product.

Content-first design

You’ve probably heard it before: never use lorem ipsum.

But why is this so essential?

It’s tempting to use a placeholder like lorem ipsum because it’s so convenient, but ultimately it’ll wind up holding you back.

Approach lorem ipsum the same way you would an early sketch: play around with it, use it to arrive at better design ideas, and then move on.

Insist on getting complete content before starting any design project. Content is key to the final product, so you can’t start without it. And never just copy and paste content into a design—read it first.

“Never just copy and paste content into a design—read it first.”

Content should not be the last stage in design, something to be filled in right before the launch. Content is the backbone of your site and must be developed together with the visual design.

Don’t just be a service provider—be an active participant

Communication isn’t going to improve unless you’re proactive.

One benefit of having an in-house design team is that design and content can go over projects in together, in the same room. Use the people you work with. Schedule meetings. Show them projects live on the screen. Your work will turn out so much better.

Your design work will go faster if you understand the whole project and you don’t just look at it as a task to check off your to-do list. Be involved in project meetings, from kickoff until development. Even for simple email designs, designers need to understand the purpose and goals of content.

“Communication isn’t going to improve unless you’re proactive.”

Basic understanding and asking questions makes everyone’s job easier because people understand the why—and not just that what.

As an example: when the brief was communicated to me, I was told to produce a one-pager with the most important stats about our product. After I uploaded it to InVision, I got feedback that it was “too nice.”

The content team was worried that the customer-facing team would be tempted to send the internal document out to customers because it looked so great.

Comments-01

You need to not only know the requirements, but also the why. Had I known that the content team wanted it to be nice but not too nice, we could have all saved time.

Once you’re more involved in the high goals of the company and understand what other teams are doing, it helps because you can understand if the main goal is leads, feature promotion, or something else.

Takeaways

  • Create an organized brief from the content side
  • Don’t use lorem ipsum
  • Use tools that foster communication through sharing and commenting
  • Work with a content-first strategy
  • Be proactive and understand the main goal of your project
Author

Roni Klein
Roni Klein is a Marketing Designer at Yotpo. When Roni's not in the studio, you can find her cruising around Tel Aviv on her Vespa or dreaming of next year's Coachella.

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