When Graphics Get in the Way

Graphics and images can get in the way of telling your story

Your graphics and diagrams are at the heart of good content marketing, but your writer has to help your readers make sense of them.

The deadline loomed, and still I had no more than an outline from the writer. “What’s taking so long?” I asked.

“I think I have writer’s block,” replied the writer.

“You don’t believe in writer’s block. Your website says so.”

When graphics and message don’t align

“I’m having trouble writing text that works with the graphics you’ve provided,” she said. “The problem is that the presentation diagrams from the engineers are not conceptual enough. They dive into platform repositories and toolsets without explaining overall workflow, let alone business advantages. The business-benefits message and the technical images should blend into a single package. That’s the hard part right now.”

I hate it when that happens.

“So, what’s slowing you down?”

“Your graphics describe only the front of the elephant,” she answered. “This paper has to describe the front, back, top, bottom and middle of the elephant. I’m trying to do that with the diagrams I have, but it doesn’t work.”

“Do you know how you want the diagrams to look in order to fit with your text?”

“I need some time to flesh them out.”

On the back of a napkin

The writer took about 4 hours to redesign the diagrams on pencil and paper, then met with the engineers who had designed the original graphics.

“I’m telling a different story from the one you told,” she explained to them, “but I need to make sure that I’m getting it right. My story needs to be consistent with your story, even if they’re not identical.”

The engineers dutifully looked at the drawings. “That’s not how we would explain the workflow,” they commented, “but it’s not wrong.”

“That’s all we need,” said the writer.

While she modified the draft around the updated diagrams, we had a designer polish them up. The mixture of the two was a better fit for the ideal readers: technically advanced people to whom we were introducing mid-stream changes (and trying to convince them to get off the dime and adopt).

The moral: Hire a writer who is not afraid to pull out a pencil and paper and say, “I can’t explain it to fit your images. Let me show you how I can explain it.”

photo credit: gigile


Author: John White

John White of venTAJA Marketing is a content marketing writer for technology companies. He posts about technology writing from the perspective of the marketing manager. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. Download his eBook, “10 Questions to Ask When Hiring Your Content Marketing Writer.”