Good written communication skills is everything. Illustration by yours truly

Writing As A Design Skill

nikki espartinez

I have a confession to make: I’m having trouble trusting people who take (good) writing for granted. It’s not really an absolute thing; I can still deal with those who says careless, and quite frankly, ignorant statements like: “Writing doesn’t matter.”, “It’s a dead-end skill.” or, “As a (then) visual designer, you don’t need that.”. I just initially question their credibility, and whether or not I am right is irrelevant because each person is different. Maybe it is true for some people, maybe it’s not. Personally, though, I can safely say that I can never be where I am today without my writing skills, and more importantly, I can bet that I also wouldn’t get to where I want to be if I let it go to waste.

Writing is incredibly personal to me. It is one of the first technical skills I’ve learned how to do which made me feel like I had a voice, a worth, a power; No matter how tiny, and feeble those were. As a teenager, the school library was my sanctuary, and my trusty, Harriet-the-spy-inspired notebook was my best-friend. I pursued it as far as college when I ended up writing melancholy-themed poetry and short stories for the school publication for experience, and for tuition fee discount, but I never really practiced it professionally. I wasn’t classically trained to do so, and it’s always been one of the many sources of my insecurities. I’d rather not do it than produce work that is sub-standard. It took me years to realize just how harmful that was, not just to my personal growth, but also to my happiness, and fulfillment, and everything that comes with following your passion.

For years, I wasted all of that potential simply because of shame, and for the mere fact that it was getting a little rustic. Aside from experimental but directionless blogs, writing had no place in my life (and work). As a designer who spent her first four years in print and editorial design, writing wasn’t a central part of my workflow. I was living with pixels, and grids, and cmyk colors, and layouts. It’s not that hard to imagine why it wasn’t a top priority in the “must-have skills” department.

But everything changed when I started practicing UX and Interaction Design. It wasn’t enough that I knew visual design. Even photography, a skill I’ve also developed over the years, took a back seat in my professional life. I knew that if I needed to get things done, think on the fly, and articulate ideas properly, I would need to strengthen my communication skills, specifically writing skills, as if my job depended on it. In most cases, it really did.

From writing design documentations, to formalizing strategies and ideas, flows and everything else that needs to be considered in order to design a digital product, writing is necessary. In fact, it’s the depth and breadth of my personal branding beyond my career in UX. It’s an invaluable driving force in my life as a person who creates things for a living.

Nothing makes me feel as lucky, and as privileged to get to do what I do, with the skills I’m equipped with and with those I have yet to learn, than this. Arguably, there’s no better time to be a well-rounded, interdisciplinary person than today.

Your mental models will make or break your work. Put your head down. Stop complaining. Improve your way of thinking through reading and writing, and focus on using it as fuel to your work. I honestly can’t think of a better way to measure the quality of my thinking than writing.

To actively pursue it, alongside the other skills that is relevant to my success, is one of the top priorities in my life right now. I am done wasting my precious time, as I have in the past.

Thank you for reading.

As always, please find me on the web. I’ve re-written and restructured my website bio to, what i think, is a stronger voice.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lifeboats1990/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nikki-espartinez-ba78b362/

These are some ideas on my next articles: Writing my own resume framework, Surviving as an independent professional and more. I hope to gather more information about them for better quality of material. I also want to make it clear that I write for myself, and most of what I write about pertains to personal experiences. It is up to you, the reader, to decide if it’s applicable to you as well.

If you get to this part of the page, again thank you for reading. This means a lot to me more than you know.

nikki espartinez

Written by

On the intersection of life and work. No in-betweens. http://nikkiespartinez.com/projects

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