Content design part 1. Championing content design / What is content design?

I’ve a collection of thoughts on ‘content design’ that I’ve been trying to put into some sort of order. Inspired as ever by teachings from GDS, but prompted more recently by the updated ‘About’ page on Also the term tickles my ongoing frustration with the use of ‘design’ as a suffix to things, and my more general interest in how the design of the written word has evolved. It began as a single post but got a little long and muddled so I’m splitting it out into four.

Part 1. I’m a big fan of GDS. I’ve made that clear a number of times in various places. Their blog posts such as Create a better user experience by changing the way you write and their extensive Content design: planning, writing and managing content guide are key tools and pieces of evidence that I use when trying to express the importance of content to others.

At the same time, I’ve struggled a little with the way that the term ‘content design’ is now used, coming from a time where I remember it being called ‘copywriting’. Perhaps I’m giving more credit to copywriters than is due, and that they wouldn’t see their job as having quite the same objectives as the previously mentioned content design guide? Or maybe I’m missing the point of a simple semantic shift to ‘content design’ which is intended more to encourage everyone, not just copywriters, to recognise the importance of well considered, structured and accessible copy (a job that ironically the Plain English Campaign never quite seemed to manage)?

I really don’t know for sure. I’d love to talk more to content designers and copywriters about it, but for now, let’s just say that I support the inclusion of copy as a tool for designers to work with. Note: Copy isn’t the same thing as typography. Type is the form of the letters and words. Copy is the content and structure of them. In my opinion.