Long live the unicorn!

The era of digital revolution has created a demand for a new form of professional: the unicorn.

In the world of design, increasing demands have forced designers to become skilled in not only the aesthetically pleasing, but also strategy, customer journey mapping and coding. In fact, coding has become increasingly important to landing a job in design, but speaking at least a little SQL or Java is no longer enough.

The latest in-demand language is a designer's native language. In other words: copywriting.

Writing, or verbal design, is emerging as the next 'unicorn skill' for designers and UX specialists, according to John Maeda, head of computational design and inclusion at Automatic.

As the 2017 Design in Tech Report points out, design is no longer just about beauty - it's about market relevance and meaningful results.

Yet in a connected age of boundless communication channels, the conversations around design are missing a key element: words.

Jennifer Vano at R/GA By Design, brings forth the question: "So shouldn't we be talking about designing language the way we talk about designing visual, experience, service, product, and everything else that makes a brand a brand?"

Moving beyond lorem ipsum

Effective designers need to consider a whole range of scenarios; taking into account the user, their motivations, possible reactions, emotions, challenges and objectives.


"These are the skills of a writer - all kinds of writers, but particularly fiction, screenwriting, and technical writing," says designer Susan Stuart in the report.

It's important that designers and companies start thinking about copy beyond "lorem ipsum" and realise that it is a core element of UX design - nestling its way into a designer's role.


"Sure you can have a beautiful UI/frame, but once you have that (we all know a great UI is an invisible UI), all the viewer cares about is what's inside: the artwork, the story," writes Paul Woods, COO of Edenspiekermann.

Designers conduct research, discover user pain-points and form a holistic understanding of the customer - passing the buck once the design element is complete to a copywriter without these foundations seems counter-productive.


As Caro Hardy, Product Designer at Clue puts it in her blog post: "In product design, you don't separate UI and UX from each other. Sometimes, you need to fix both. In the same vein, you have to adjust both the UI and the copy to find a design that helps the user do what they want to do."

Having the skills to craft copy will allow designers to be more effective in catering to a diverse audience.


The unicorn is dead! Long live the unicorn!


Or at least, the death of the coding unicorn is nigh, giving way to a different kind of designer: one that can write compelling copy.

The perpetually changing nature of life today means professionals in all industries, not just designers, will need to develop new skills, incessantly. Much like learning to write (an age-old and age-less art form), widening your skill-sets is the key today and for the future.