Designer and co-founder of The Industry Jared Erondu

Designer and co-founder of The Industry Jared Erondu

In the seminal writing guide The Elements of Style, William Strunk and E.B. White famously advised us to “Omit Needless Words.” What’s true for writers is also applicable for other aspects of creativity as well, especially design.

The Industry’s Jered Erondu reveals how the writing process has improved his design work:

In writing, it’s the ability to impart an idea in a short amount of words. Seth Godin’s blog is a perfect example. Everyday, he delivers a rich piece of advice in what most blogs will consider a mere paragraph.

In design, brevity is finding the best way to perform an action in the fewest steps without losing efficiency or the message. And it requires building a visual hierarchy–understanding what the most important actions are for your product.

What’s most important now? Show that on top. What will be used infrequently? Show that later. How many steps are needed to access them–are they all necessary? Could removing this or adding that drop the action time by one step or second? These are the questions I ask myself when designing. I make my first design pass, then revisit later to “shorten.”

  • Quelcy Kogel

    Any ideas for specific writing exercises or great prompts?

    • Sean Blanda
    • Katherine Tattersfield

      If you are a designer, write about your design process, from conception to project completion. Also write about your professional challenges, learning software programs, outside creative hobbies, such as photography.

  • Megan Rene Burkett

    This is a great post. All too often the purpose and value of simplicity are underestimated. I find this to be resourceful in persuasion tactics as well.

  • Maria

    Great truism. Write, everything, all the time and then… edit! *grin*

  • mma

    If you are designing software, try writing a procedure based on your design. Too often we think the design makes documentation unnecessary; too often we are wrong. If you find yourself explaining the presence of an option or button or if you can’t succinctly explain how the dialog impacts the user’s task/environment, you might want to rethink the design.

  • doja

    Writing “short” is always more work than writing “long.” 😉

    • Katherine Tattersfield

      Not necessarily. Long form content takes me a lot longer than a typical blog post.

  • Louis Profeta

    New applicants at the studio carried Gucci portfolios, not necessary I told them to a surprised face. In two hours I would like you to design five dresses using a written description solely. The quivered and grew pale, ‘” would like to know how you think fashion, no silly sketching required. One was hired, he said he loved describing the color yellow with words or the shape of a sleeve, me too I replied.

  • Jim

    And….for writers….learn how to design. A good creative mind should be able to do both very effectively. Paint images with words…and use words to paint images. It’s tough to do and requires daily practice. But if you can begin to master both…you’ll do great work. (Most of the time.)

    • Katherine Tattersfield

      Absolutely agree. At the very least, writers and designers should learn as much as they can about each other’s craft. I’ve found that educating myself in design improves my skills as a writer and I’ve found a new passion in the process.

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