With so many businesses looking to handpicked freelancers for help, coordinating projects like website redesigns or online marketing campaigns can get tricky. Even with the best project manager, ensuring designers and copywriters are working in tandem instead of at odds can be a challenge.
When designers and writers are disconnected members of the same team
Why can it be so difficult to get these two on the same page? Communication. Or, lack of communication is the problem.
As freelancers, it’s easy to find yourself pulled onto projects where your only reference point is the client or the agency hiring you on the client’s behalf. If you’re a copywriter you might be tasked to develop the messaging and write the copy – and that’s it. The designer picks up where you’ve left off.
The problem with this scenario is that there’s no conversation between the two of you to hash out what parts of the message needs to be emphasized or how the design elements might impact what the words are attempting to get the visitor to do on the page.
You might get lucky and hit a home run but chances are you’ll be left with an end product that doesn’t convey what either of you envisioned. Or worse, you’ve found yourself with a sub-par website or campaign that performs poorly.
You’re not happy. The client’s not happy. No one’s happy.
1. Change the dynamic and get the team talking
Recently, I’ve had the chance to work directly with my friend and designer, Jen Gordon of Convert Themes, on a couple of projects. The experience has been nothing short of amazing. Sure, Jen is a phenomenal designer; but, that’s just icing on the cake.
What made the difference between these projects and others I’ve worked on? I wasn’t sending my written work out into what felt like the abyss of floating documents in the cloud only to see it later on a launched landing page.
Instead, we collaborated during all parts of the process – giving each other feedback on layout, graphics, word choice, and hypotheses for testing. The end result was less overall frustration on both our parts and neither of us wondering why the final page looked or sounded a certain way that didn’t jive with our intent.
2. Give your clients the best possible work product
When you both start collaborating, magic can happen. Think better work delivered to the client and the potential for lasting positive working relationships. I’ve found a few ways to achieve this…
3. Start by focusing on the process
Everyone works differently. Not every copywriter/designer combination will be a Kumbayah meeting of the minds. But if you can agree on how the two of you will approach the project together before it starts, you’ll have much more success.
For instance, Jen and I discussed how each of us tackles projects, what collaborative tools we prefer using, and the ways we communicate most productively. Then, we came up with a game plan laying out what pieces we needed to work on alone and what could be done together.
4. Discuss the customer research together
Working as a conversion rate optimizer and copywriter, I start and end every project by looking over the qualitative and quantitative research. This informs the messaging along with the words I use in the copy.
Being able to talk through the insights gleaned from the data collected with a designer like Jen Gordon streamlines the entire process by helping me take into account how the visual and messaging hierarchies should be aligned. Plus, she can get additional context to inform how her designs can help persuade visitors to take action on the page.
5. Iterate as you go
Conversion centered writing and design is based on research, hypotheses, and testing. So, iteration is a key component of the process. Approaching the collaboration process in the same way is an incredibly helpful way of getting the best out of both of you.
In our most recent project together, Jen and I spent entire Skype sessions screen sharing in order to give each other feedback on what was working and not working with both the copy and design.
By doing so, we were able to talk through how we each saw the copy and design playing off one another – taking constructive criticism and tweaking as we went.
The upshot of all of this?
In our case, copy and design have been able to do more than peacefully coexist. We’ve each been able to up our game with what the other has contributed to the projects. If you’ve been resistant to collaborate, don’t be. Chances are you’ll both learn from each other.
And if you’re really lucky, you’ll find a whole new level of success.
What have been your experiences collaborating with other freelancers?
Jen Havice is a conversion copywriter at Make Mention. She’s a firm believer that data driven research combined with a brand’s personality can make copywriting magic. You can find her on Twitter @jenhavice and her latest gig – The Conversion Class – with her partner in conversions, Jen Gordon.