What do we mean by text design? Simply put, it’s a process to ensure that what we write communicates its message most effectively. It’s not just about writing well, it’s about writing for the reader: using vocabulary that’s appropriate, striking the right tone, and letting the message tell a story.
The result is real communication with your customers: Web copy that’s read, press releases that are used, ad copy that sticks, instruction manuals that are understood.
Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people.
—William Butler Yeats
Our approach has six steps:
- Feedback & Revision
Consultation with the client is the starting point in any project. We need to find out what the message is, who it’s for (the target readership), and how it’s going to be delivered (on the Web, as a press release, etc).
After consultation comes research to gather information about the target readership and the market. This will help us answer questions of tone and style.
For the target readership, we need to find out what kind of language they’re likely to be comfortable with, what their expectations are, and what their typical level of understanding of the topic is likely to be.
In terms of market research, we will look at the sorts of language and messages the competition is using. This will help us differentiate our copy from theirs and provide a unique voice in the marketplace
Armed with the research, we can now sit down with the client again to agree how the story should be told. Or put another way, decide how the information is to be structured, including how the text will interact with non-text elements such as pictures, charts and diagrams.
At last we’re ready to start writing in earnest, following the storyboard agreed in phase 3, and in the style and tone established in phase 2.
5. Feedback & Revision
Ernest Hemingway rewrote the ending of A Farewell to Arms 39 times. When asked what the problem was, he replied simply, “Getting the words right.”
Most writers spend more time revising and rewriting than getting a first draft down on paper. And while the initial revisions will happen before the client sees a draft, accurately incorporating feedback from the client is vital to concluding the project successfully.
With the text complete it can be delivered in a convenient format for the client. Job done!