Don’t Forget About the Words
Not too long ago I wrote about my need for a clean and simple interface and lately I’ve been thinking about the pickup speed I require from those things I interact with (from webapps to music). Because there’s an almost infinite list of alternatives out there I expect you to deliver something to me that I can figure out quickly. The thing is (and something I left out of my first entry), this thing I figure out quickly isn’t limited to something I touch, it’s also what I read.
Good copy’s just as important as a good interface.
In fact, the two really go hand in hand. To quote Jason Fried of 37signals:
Copywriting is interface design. Great interfaces are written. If you think every pixel matters then you also need to think every letter matters.
As a copywriter myself, I appreciate the vote of confidence and agree completely. Too often words are the ugly stepchild of the design process. People seem to believe that words just happen, that they’re a side product of the idea.
They’re not though. In fact, words can often spurn entirely new ideas and positions. What I mean is that if you can’t explain your idea quickly, then what good is it? How do you expect to design something that people can understand in 30 seconds if you can’t explain it that quickly. Think people, this is common sense. When you start paying attention to the language that communicates your product/company/idea you start really thinking about that product/company/idea. As explained in this Inc. Magazine article, “Focusing on the way your company communicates compels you to set aside what you think about your business and instead be open to what others — who, after all, are the ones who matter — might think.”
I tried to do think through language issues when reworking this site. Buttons, links, archives and even the RSS explained page are worded as clearly as possibly (I hope).
The most important lesson I’ve learned in my time as a writer is that words don’t grow on trees (especially marketing words). They take time and effort and if you’re not giving them the time they need everything around them will fall apart.