As a professional freelance writer I focus on the words, the copy, the text. Sure, we do some newsletter work and we have built some very nice layouts. It is not like writers don’t care what their writing looks like, it is just that design is its own skill set, with its own techniques, tricks, and processes to master. Like most things, design looks a lot easier than it actually is.
Fortunately, with some much flash, style, and colors floating around out there on the Internet, many people – the kinds of people who care about quality, informative writing – are not really all that impressed with fancy design anymore, because they know that all too often, it only serves to conceal lightweight content. On the other hand, if a webpage looks like some hack just threw it together on their lunch break, it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that the content was given any more thought. Therefore, it is in the best interest of every freelance writer to take at least a passing interest in web design, if for no other reason than to avoid the most garish mistakes.
Unfortunately, finding quality web design information resources for writers isn’t easy. Too many “high-end” design focused websites are way above what the professional writer really wants to get into, while the other end of the spectrum provides a fifth-grade art education in things like complimentary colors. For example, Smashing Magazine provides a wealth of design information, but its target audience is graphics and design professionals. That doesn’t mean there isn’t good information there for writers, it just means that sorting through the vast amount of design information is key to making the best use of one’s time. For example, there are numerous articles and posts on typography. While typography is indeed a key element of design, for the freelance writer, the intricacies of fonts and their shapes and spaces is a high-effort, low-return area, especially when one considers that for online writing there isn’t too much flexibility in this area yet due to browser compatibility issues.
More from ArcticLlama – Freelance Writing Advice and Tips
Recently, I’ve taking a liking to a design website called Speckyboy Design Magazine. Again, not everything pertains directly to freelance writers, and some articles are certainly less inspired than others. However, over the course of reading much of the site well into its archives, I’ve found plenty of great design tips for writers. Even more usefully, SpeckyBoy also provides useful links to other online design resources that might otherwise go undiscovered by the pro writer.
For example, a recent posting linked to 12 Useful and Free Downloadable Web Design Books. A post like that is worth its a lot to a freelance writer looking to build on their web design skills since it provides not only several different resources, but resources that are free. It is often tough to tell if something will be useful enough to make it worth paying for until it is too late. The fact that these particular web design books can also be downloaded and saved on a writer’s netbook for reading whenever there is some downtime is a double-bonus.