In the battle between content marketers and designers, each side strongly believes that what they do is the most important and that their work should be most prominent.
But that kind of thinking gets teams nowhere. The thing is, content needs design and design needs content. We’re all working hard to serve our users, meet our marketing KPIs, and of course make great content.
“Designers and marketers need each other.”
Great content can’t happen without collaboration, so make an effort to create together. If it seems impossible—we promise it’s not—check out the 5 strategies below.
1. Start with content
To be clear, I’m not saying copy is superior to design. Even though I’m a writer, I see the benefits of graphic design in the overall content marketing plan. For example, graphics make a website effective and more digestible. But you can get to your finished product easier if you start with written content.
Related: Why content comes first
Copy should be finalized before a designer starts working. For example, I work with a designer who makes infographics and smaller images that make the company’s blog posts easier to understand. I start by writing an article, and then I work with the designer to make visual content based on what I wrote.
You need content first—whether you want graphics to supplement written content, like in a blog post, or if all the content will go on the finished design, like on a flyer. You can’t make a good design if you don’t know what you want to say to your audience.
If you work on the design concurrently with the text, you’ll potentially run into a few issues—namely, every time the content changes, the design will have to change. Solidify the written content before touching the visual content to save the designer time and frustration.
2. Learn to communicate
Without good communication, your work will never surpass mediocre.
Don’t flaunt your jargon—this only causes confusion. Speak the same language and use common terms that everyone understands. And research basic terms that the other person uses. It’ll only improve communication and understanding.
When it comes time to give feedback, don’t give vague comments that don’t have any directional value. For example, “Can you make this flow better?” or “Make it pop” don’t say much of anything. Instead try saying, “What if we tried reordering this section?” or “How would you feel about adding an accent color?” Give direct, actionable comments.
3. Use a style guide
Combining content marketing and design is easier when you have set standards for the end product.
Think about things like colors, icons, typefaces, and capitalization. Pick text and design elements that can be incorporated across all content.
Having a familiar style doesn’t just tell everyone how to create their content. It helps others know when something is wrong with another person’s content. The designer and the content marketer have the ability to critique based on the preset styles.
4. Ask for help
You can’t be an expert on everything, so don’t try to be. Don’t rely on your skills alone—it’s okay to ask your co-worker for help with writing or design.
If you’re working on a design, you might be stumped by what content to include, how to display the content, or what imagery to use. Instead of struggling on your own, ask a content marketer. They can write content or give you an idea of how to display already written copy.
Let your co-workers’ skills shine—you’ll likely have better results. And you’ll work on your communication skills.
5. Be mindful of others
Be mindful of each other’s time. Graphic designers get requests beyond marketing, and content marketers are dealing with other teams as well.
Consider each other’s workload. Talk to your co-workers to find out how much time they actually have to work with you and complete projects.
If you give your co-worker too much work, the quality of the work will go down. If a designer asks for approval on a design faster than the marketer can reasonably examine it, the content marketer might sign off on subpar work. Or, if the content marketer gives too many projects to the designer, the designer might have to do lower-quality work to finish each design.
We had this problem with our own team. The content marketers were heavily influencing the project management for designers without understanding how long each project took. We were assigning so many design projects to our designer that she couldn’t keep up. She made simpler, repetitive designs to save time. She was finishing projects so close to the deadlines that there was minimal time to make edits. Plus, she was receiving projects from people outside of our team.
When she told us that we were giving her too much work, we met as a team and decided to include fewer visual elements in our blog articles. By doing this, the design quality increased and we had more time for a design review process. Despite fewer visual elements, the finished product is better overall.
Do you have any tips for better content/design collaboration? Share them with us on Twitter: @InVisionApp.