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Write more, design less (and better)

Write more, design less (and better)

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Our message is effectively drowning in a sea of organizational and semantic noise that is part and parcel of the product itself.

Different social contexts and dynamics dictate how stark the adjustment is, and how natural or unnatural it might feel. Some of the reasons for code-switching are problematic, but the underlying necessity is always the same: fitting in.

This phenomenon nicely plugs into Barnlund’s transactional model of communication, according to which interactions occur within a shared reality that arises from a mutual assessment of social, relational, and cultural contexts and is shaped by cues such as environment and body language.

The transmission model of communication is more often invoked in digital interactions, in which a sender encodes a message and a receiver decodes it. But the problem within the context of digital experiences is that the message lives in an environment designed by the sender (us), forcing the receiver (our user) to do the heavy lifting by not only decoding our message, but doing so in an information-dense environment that was completely foreign to them until a few moments ago.

“The more you start thinking about writing as a design process, the clearer the power of words will become.” — Andy Welfle

Andy Welfle helpfully gives the punchline away right in the title of his book “Writing Is Designing”.

how do we make this easier on the user? By deploying the secret weapon every designer should have in their toolkit.

Nope… not empathy.


Writing about anything presupposes some degree of understanding of the contextual richness around that topic. Contextual richness is what allows me to sneak the occasional Sicilian expression in my conversations with my grandmother, because it’s so much easier to match someone else’s language than to limit our word choice to the intersection of our world and theirs.

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More Stuff tagged clear writing , writing for web , copywriting , content design , code-switching , barlund's transaction model , transmission model

See also: Content creation & management , Writing

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