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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Designers and writers...Rant replaced by kudos at last second...Not everyone is a writer...

A few days ago, I bookmarked a piece at A List Apart and planned on using it as a springboard for a "rantish" blog post here.

The article, by Derek Powazek, noted the critical role of written content to the success of any website's design. That sounds like it should get a big thumbs up, right? Well, it would have if Powazek would have followed a different path after offering that observation. He could have advised designers to integrate quality written content into their designs and to obtain that content from a talented freelance content writer. Instead, he argued that designers should add "writer" to their list of talents and do it themselves. Here's a representative excerpt:

"And if your designer says, “I’m not a writer,” it may be time to find one who is. If you’re a designer who doesn’t think of yourself as a writer, it’s time to reconsider. Buy yourself a copy of Strunk and White, do some research online, or take a class. Design is about communication, and it takes more than pixels to communicate."

This is the part where I was going to start ranting about how a juco course and a copy of Strunk and White won't make one into a writer. I am sure you can imagine my indignation.

Minutes before I was about to begin my screed of a post, I did a bit more digging and found someone else who took expception to Powazek's article.

To make matters even better, it was written by a designer. Whereas my comments might seem a little self-serving (oh, he just doesn't want designers to decrease his work flow), the response to the "designers as writers" argument carries a little more objectivity.

Jason Spector at Spectorbrain had this to say:

"Every professional has their own set of inherent knowledge, tricks of the trade, and detailed skill sets that only come from years of experience. I consider myself a designer first. Although my writing and coding skills may support my work and make me more marketable, I am the first one to enlist a professional web content writer and coder/developer when the need arises.

Here’s my advice. Go ahead and read that book and take that class. Not to do the work yourself, but to more intelligently educate your clients and more effectively work with writers and/or developers to create the best possible product. Only then will you have the most success."

Couldn't have said it better myself! Thanks for taking the heavy weight of that rant off my shoulders, Spector!

By the way, if you have any interest in site design, both A List Apart and Spectorbrain are good reads!