The granddaddy of design studio dilemmas

Working in a design studio, I have witnessed this egg-and-chicken problem ruffle its feathers once too often. But why?

The problem in an eggshell

A typical day at work- a hot new project is ready on the table. So now who is to take the first stab at it, the content writer or the designer? There is an awkward silence in the in the room with brows knitting and mouths twitching.

The conflict arises when the writers have had enough of filling neatly placed boxes of Lorem Ipsum, whereas the designers want the liberty to make the design without the constraint of overwhelming white pages of copy.

However, there are also times when the writers and designers seek a convenient start point for themselves. It helps to work with layouts rather than blind design when writers struggle with imagining visual translations of the message they want to pack together with their copy. Similarly, a designer might be lost without knowing the tone, voice and character of the information for which she/he is designing.

It looks pretty scrambled…

Design or copy, starting in the wrong direction can spiral the entire project into a series of revisions and redos. The dangerous consequence of this is the creative burnout of the designer and writer folk. Besides, in the heat of this exhausting process, it is easy to lose track of the cost associated with postponing deadlines and delivering results that do not square client expectations.

The loss is critical.

But, all can be saved and conquered by the grace of strategic effort and considering a few pointers before deciding on a direction.

Let’s get cracking!

The medium

The 21st-century communication landscape is vast. Your client can choose to market his product on a billboard or through his site, both of which would need very different treatments in terms of copy and design. Usually, it is feasible to apply content to design layouts in case of posters and billboards where there is only microcopy involved. But most collaterals like a website, are a catch-22. Then, what?

Well, maybe we have been asking the wrong question all this while.


It is not about WHO but the WHAT! There. Rather than deciding who anchors the foundation of the project, the focus should be on building a strong foundation. Writer and designer likewise, need to communicate with the client in depth and build a concept that effectively communicates the message intended by the brand; then work parallelly around that concept, bouncing ideas off each other. This way, both work towards a common goal with their respective creative liberties.

Concept is the key to producing content that is powerful and balanced.

And the only way to progress towards churning the final content out of a solid concept is collaboration.


Design is informed by content. It also serves as a framework for composing good content. It is essential to understand that copy and design can work neither in isolation or sequence. Designers and writers need to collaborate, throw ideas at each other and then work on a mutually determined formula.

Writers need to have penchant embracing for imagery, lettering, typefaces and the overall visual appeal of the content. Whereas designers should be aware of how the content flows and how their design is the content more powerful and tie into it perfectly.

The complete circle

In sum, we can conclude that copy and design work in a non-linear fashion. And after a point, they can’t run parallelly in isolation either. Design and copy have an on-going circular relationship where they push and pull with each other throughout a project.

The end product is a seamless, lucid communication product that sings to the consumers.

The Web today, allows us to create unique, interactive and multi-dimensional experiences. A riff between design and copy weakens that prospect. So the next time you are in the middle of a waging design vs. copy war, remember that the loss is not of either one, but of the chance to produce exceptional content.