Writers & UX Designers: The Dynamic Duo Your Brand Needs

We writers can be protective of our craft. Our words are precious to us; they’re how we convey our experiences. Languages like HTML and Java give another type of power to language; each symbol of code influences the user experience.

As copy lessens while code lengthens in new media, it’s essential that wordsmiths understand how our words fit into these art and design-heavy brand experiences. The design-driven Awwwards Conference in Los Angeles taught me how creative technology crossovers can benefit brands.

The marriage of language and code and their effect on work efficiency and quality is such a new topic that it’s hardly been discussed. But education and collaboration are proven to improve productivity and the quality of work produced—which is precisely why creatives need to be having these conversations.

Here are five takeaways this writer learned from web designers and developers about creating a harmonious brand experience, supported by brand examples that embody ideal cross-disciplinary collaborations.


1. Creative Realms Are Closer Than Before

Codes like CSS and Java are languages that developers wrote just for an audience of computers.

UX designers use this special language to provide an interactive platform for writers’ words to live. Storytelling expert and writer of The Storytelling Animal Jonathan Gottschall says, “A writer lays down words, but they are inert. They need a catalyst to come to life.” These words need a world to live in and it’s the designer and developer’s job to do that.

Hennessy’s Mastered From Chaos is an exceptional example of copy immersed in a brand experience. To celebrate their legacy of producing high-quality cognac, Hennessy created a microsite to educate their customers on their creation process.


Points of light rearrange into various images, giving the illusion of a 3D world. The UI of the site embodies the chaotic, brutal process that results in an elegant spirit.

You are your own host, and all the action is started by and centered on each user. The educational tidbits are built behind layers of graphics, and when you find one, it’s like finding a little treasure while on a scenic walk.

Check out this cool terminology chart to see the similarities between edit and design.



2. From Storytelling to Scrolly-telling: UI Affects the User Journey

In order to immerse audiences in brand experiences, writers have to understand how the user will flow through the information.

Apps like Snapchat are changing the way users navigate technological experiences. Users’ shorter attention spans mean that headlines have to be more compelling. They no longer merely introduce a story; they also introduce experiences.

A medium.com article said, “Designing a flow is a lot like writing a story — an interactive story.”

With a writer and designer’s help, users can narrate through the story experientially. Instead of turning pages, they navigate from screen to screen, one swipe or scroll at a time.

The UN Refugee Agency and Google teamed up to create a microsite that uses scrolly-telling to immerse site visitors in visuals and information comparing Syria before the war and the devastation that followed. A mixture of factoids, startling images, tweets from Syrian citizens and informative infographics create a 3D experience.

The UN Refugee Agency and Google teamed up to create a microsite that uses scrolly-telling to immerse site visitors in visuals and information comparing Syria before the war and the devastation that followed. A mixture of factoids, startling images, tweets from Syrian citizens and informative infographics create a 3D experience.

Some websites employ infinite scroll, like Facebook or Google Images. People no longer want to click ‘next page’ or ‘load more,’ plus, infinite scroll leads to longer time spent on site. It also increases urgency for users to interact with the content they see. If you see a post on Facebook that interests you, it’s best to immediately interact with it because that content could easily get “lost” as you continue to scroll.


3. Emotional Immersion and Empathy from 2D to 3D

Video creates the opportunity for complete emotional alignment by building empathy even amongst previously unrelated audiences.

Gottschall says, “Human minds yield helplessly to the suction of story. No matter how hard we concentrate, no matter how deep we dig in our heels, we just can’t resist the gravity of alternate worlds.”

Haven’t we all watched movies that we knew weren’t real, yet still found ourselves feeling sad, fearful or weepy about some fictitious character? There’s science behind this. Some believe that immersing in other people’s experiences is literally changing our brain chemistry.

UX designer tools like user personas and journey maps help harness the power of empathy through storytelling, giving designers a greater understanding of people’s wants and needs, joys and pains.

When writers collaborate with developers and web designers, they can convey items like emotional sentiment, as Hennessy did with the concept of ‘chaos.’ The use of certain colors, movement, typography and imagery can lead to the audience experiencing the same emotions that they would if they had only read something.


4. The Value of Limitations or Constraints

When given a wide-open brief, create your own constraints to get you toward the goal by using 3–5 brand attributes.

Brand attributes can be anything from brand colors to company slogans. If your brand focuses on the color blue and emphasizes creating an easy, on-the-go customer experience, it gives both the copy and web design teams something to work from. Writers and designers can collaborate to determine how they’re going to marry the brand attributes to form a cohesive campaign.

These constraints aren’t just limited to brand attributes. Writers may be limited by word count or quick turnarounds. Developers and designers might be limited by the capabilities of a specific brand’s website or even fonts. Creatives should capitalize on limitations of all kinds because they can actually help us home in on the target product.


5. Constantly Evolve

When Disney released the digitally enhanced remake of The Jungle Book, they decided that the movie itself wasn’t enough. So they built a digital representation of the world that The Jungle Book creates.

TheLawOfTheJungle.com is a 3D world where site visitors can delve into the lingo, dangers and other nuances of jungle life. A great example of the value of collaboration between writing and designing is the site’s “Words to Live By” section, where jungle terms are defined and paired with a distinct interactive design.

The computer screen allows visitors a self-guided experience of the world they fell in love with on the silver screen. This leads to longer site visits, greater brand awareness and engagement.

In this day and age, it’s as much the writer’s responsibility as the designer’s to create an immersive user experience—making brand stories more compelling while staying true to the brand’s history and voice. This is only possible if writers and designers collaborate across all parts of the creative process. We all want to communicate the same experience, but we need all types of language to do so.

For more information on the awesome Awwwards conference, check out this recap. (Look for me in the video!)

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