Fighting with Copywriters
As a designer, having a healthy relationship with a copywriter can make life so much sweeter. But in my experience, these two roles are often working independently and 'cleaning up' after each other instead of collaborating closely. Both are often stretched thin and usually independently briefed on the bigger initiatives. In short, its a train-wreck when it should be a yin and yang of teamwork. I think copywriters are smart people who are generally under-appreciated and a little bit snarky; I just adore them. I wish I worked with them more.
Another likely scenario for designers is that there is no copywriter to bicker with at all, just a rough concept and a design deliverable. Maybe a word doc of bullet points, all with double spaces after their unnecessary periods. In either situation, working with a writer or flying solo, a designer can multiply their value and ease relationships by understanding brand voice & proper communication to make beautiful, well-written work. Frequently this may mean taking projects from concept and writing messaging from scratch.
So is it copy before design or design before copy? The correct answer is none of the above. Concept before either. Copy and design work together to execute concept best. Frequently they'll dance along - each influenced by the other & a designer who has a good eye for writing can really make a project tango. But even the best designer/writer needs a copy editor or at least a vigilant proofreader. Adobe spellcheck is inadequate for catching homophones & widows. (Case in point, many of the spelling errors within my own site.)
@Ustwo launched a guide for copy for designers and its a gem for sharpening up your writer rules for process, punctuation & interaction. Give it a read & stop abusing those em-dashes.