Design and communication: complementing your visuals with words

Design and communication

21st February 2023
by Michelle O'Connor

Cover image: Design and communication: complementing your visuals with words

Design and communication: complementing your visuals with words

Communication is the key to connection and interaction. Communication allows us to form relationships, and sustain them. And without communication, our relationships suffer - personally and professionally. 

While some designers specialise in visual communication, every designer needs to be able to communicate effectively in different formats, not just visually. Communicating your designs goes beyond putting together a portfolio of your stunning work; it encompasses your ability to articulate how you created that work, the rationale behind your choices, what inspired you, why and how your design can add value to your client's business. 

Designers need to communicate verbally, too

Your ability to articulate your design work, in words, is crucial to having a successful professional career. Regardless of your design discipline - graphic, UX/UI, or product, to name a few - you'll find yourself having to explain your design, or pitching your design work. 

It's easy to assume your portfolio speaks for itself - in a lot of cases, it will. It should. That's the whole point of a portfolio. But there will be situations where you also need to explain it. To speak on behalf of your portfolio and your skills. When simply showing something isn't enough - you need to justify it. 

Not everyone understands the nuances of design

Some of your clients will have never worked with a designer before. They could be someone who has spent their entire career rationalising, someone who lacks, or feels they lack, visual creativity. I fit in this box; I'm not visual and I'm always curious to know how and why someone's visual creation marries with my verbal one. Your clients will be the same, because after all, if they had your skills they wouldn't need yours.

This is a really long-winded way of introducing my series, Design and Communication. It's all about the importance of verbal and written communication for careers in design. Each article will touch on the different approaches to communication, and the ways to improve your ability to communicate your designs, in words. And, finally how to implement these changes in your day-to-day design practice.

About the writer: 

Michelle O'Connor is a copywriter and brand voice consultant, also known as Specky Scribbler. She works primarily with designers and non-wordy people to help articulate their ideas, and make sure they're being fully understood. 

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