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Design like a Writer

Designing is similar to writing. Generally, we refer designing to the visual contents and writing to the text contents. Both designing and writing have a great role in any communication materials, e.g., corporate website and marketing collaterals. Thus, we can consider them as “twin” in your corporate website and marketing collaterals.

A lot of content experts agreed that people are more likely to read a write-up if it has visual representations or design elements such as color, line, shape, size, direction, texture, value. Vice versa, an effective design contains some text to clearly convey the meaning.  In writing, regardless if it is for print or online, we are taught to practice the three principles in sentence and paragraph development.  And these three principles can be applied when designing. Integrating these principles will give you a clean and yielding combination of text and visual appearance.

Below are the three writing principles and its relevance in designing.


It means oneness of idea. Unity can be achieved in writing when all the sentences support the main idea or topic sentence. Disunity happens if a certain sentence is not related to the topic that a writer wants to indicate.

Further, unity in design illustrates the harmonious grouping of different design elements (color, line, shape, size, direction, texture, value). A design starts with a blank piece maybe a blank paper or a blank Photoshop document. The first thing that a designer must do is to have a clear picture of his design idea. Little by little the blank piece fills with the amalgamation of design elements when a designer’s idea started to pop. Remember, a unified design is not only about combining the design elements. Also, it is about making the design elements related to one another.

EXAMPLE: Logo is the basic composition of marketing collaterals, the basic identity of an enterprise. Logo designing deals with a lot of design elements from color, line to size and shape. To establish the identity of the company through its logo, the designer must deliberately relate each design element by using techniques to attain unity in design: proximity, repetition, continuation.


This stands for sticking together of idea. In writing, coherence is evident when every sentence smoothly links together. Transitional and signal words are ways in making a coherent write-up.

On the other hand, let us say that the design elements are already unified. The question: do your chosen design elements have a connection to the idea or message you want to share? We use the power of design to make a textual content more effective.  Perhaps your receivers might get confuse on your design if it does not logically connect or stick to the message of your communication material.

EXAMPLE: A business which is into bank industry (refer this as X BANK) wants a website that will portray their philosophy and ideals. The message is “X BANK—your trusted and professional bank.” It is impeccable to have a web design that will visualize the message. The website design must look professional and trusted as it is. Too much playful design elements will destroy the coherence between textual message and visual representation.


Emphasis suggests dominance of the main idea/message. It is a golden rule in writing to have one core topic wherein the whole write-up will encircle. From that certain topic, the main sentence must stand out among the other sentences.

In connection, emphasis in design defeats confusion and monotony.  Although design is about unifying the design elements, actually, the main idea on the design must be dominant to avoid confusion. Likewise, emphasis ends a boring design, thus, making it captivating and interesting.

EXAMPLE:  The design of Business Y’s website and its marketing collaterals uses different colors because it depicts the variety of their offered services. Nevertheless, there must be a dominant color on the design of the company website and marketing collaterals. This dominant color can be the identity color of Business Y. Consequently, there must have a good visual effect when integrating the other (supporting) colors to the dominant color.

Designing is more than just putting an art to your work because designing has principles to follow. These principles facilitate the communication of the idea/message to your receiver.  Accordingly, design must embrace unity, coherence, and emphasis just like a writer who writes the way it is.

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