Generating content

Because you’re a designer, not a writer

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Spend more than a few months as designer, and one of the first things you will realize is that a far larger portion of your job turns out to be writing content.

I have learned over the years that when people say they want a website, or brochure, or infographic, whatever it is they’re asking for, what they mean is they want you to both design it , and it can be like pulling teeth to get what they want to say out.

“We need a website!”

“Awesome — happy to help”

“Can you just put something together? Something simple, clean.”

.

So here is a set of prompts to that you can curate to give to whoever you’re working with to help them generate content.

Content Prompts*

General content

  • What’s the one thing you would want someone to know?
  • What’s the one thing they should do?
  • Who are you trying to help?
  • How does this make the person who will be using this better?
  • What problem does this solve for them?
  • What are your core values?
  • If you could only have headlines, what would they say?
  • What kind of credibility does you or your business have? Years of experience? Awards? Certifications? Testimonials?
  • What impact have you already made or hope to make?
  • How does what you produce, make, or do, work?
  • Where are you located?
  • How should people get in contact with you?
  • Someone asks you about your website in the elevator — what do you tell them? Bonus points if you actually do this then record their questions and how you answer them.
  • What do others have to say about you, your product, or your service?
  • Do you have teammates to feature? What do you want to say about them? What details do you want included?
  • What products or services do you provide?
  • Why are those better than your competitors?
  • What social media do you have?
  • What is the story behind you, your product, or your service?
  • How long have you been doing this?
  • What options do you have?
  • Do you have pricing tiers? What is different about the tiers?
  • Are there important numbers to communicate? Number of locations, number of satisfied customers? Number of options? What are they?
  • What videos or imagery do you have available?

Content type specific

Blog

  • Are you considering a blog? Are you really sure you want a blog?
  • Why should someone read your blog?
  • What topics could you write about?
  • How often will you publish?

Event

  • In-person? Online? Hybrid?
  • What is it? What will the atmosphere be like?
  • Who is speaking? What is their credibility? What topics?
  • Who is it for? (Everyone is the answer). Why should someone go? What will they get out of it?
  • When is it? Where is it?
  • What format is it? Lecture? Panel? Interactive workshop?

Course

  • Who should come to this course? (Everyone is the answer)
  • What problem do they currently have that this course solves?
  • What will someone learn?
  • What pre-work is there?
  • How long should it take?
  • Who is teaching?
  • Why are they qualified to teach?
  • How long have you been doing this?
  • Do you have any certifications?

Other helpful tips

  • Using words like “you” and “your” instead of words like “we,” “us,” and “our” is a great way to speak to others and communicate that what you have is for
  • Consider writing out a short version and a long version to every question. This gives you different options for content design.

A few caveats

  • This list is not comprehensive and is not meant to indicate any particular order or importance of content.
  • Some questions may seem redundant, but I find that asking similar things in different ways will help elucidate different angles.
  • This does not remove the work of designing the content — this is where your expertise as a designer comes in!
  • This is not meant to generate final copy — it’s something you both can work from to edit and revise.

Digital Designer

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