As writers, we always want to know how something reads or how something sounds. But in this graphic age of ours, how something looks might be just as important.

In a recent web project, we were in the position of producing text before the designer had completed the design. This was a “new world order” for us. Normally, there’s at least a rough site design and we’re given an approximate word count or space to fill so we not only know how much to write, but we have a visual reference for the “feel” of the copy.

But not this time. We knew the copy sounded right for the client, who wanted it to sound like her. Reading the text, you could practically hear her saying it. But did the text sound right for site? I proposed that until we saw it with the design there was no way to know for sure.

Steve sums it up best:

"Visual information hits people far faster and with more emotional impact than written information. So how web copy reads often has a lot to do with what it looks like. Just think of font size as one tiny example. Small type can look a bit foreboding. Large type often looks friendly. Too large, however, and it looks dumb or loud, or we think it's meant for people who have trouble reading -- probably not the connotation most clients want for their site.

“So how do you get the equation right? Try visuals first, words second. Just like any good blogging tool will give you a template to start with, template your site first (use lorem ipsum "dummy" text if you want; see lipsum.org) and then work on the copy. Adjust size and color of text appropriately to match the design. As long as the design carries the flavor, the text will, too. And then everyone will be happy.”

And it's not just true for web design. We follow this rule for print, too. Anything really. It's the best way we know to convey information effectively.

Working on a new web site? Considering a site renovation? Let us know. We've got writers, designers and web strategists at the ready.