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Forget Coding: Writing Is Design’s “Unicorn Skill”

In a new report, John Maeda explains why writing is a must-have skill for designers.

Source: Forget Coding: Writing Is Design’s “Unicorn Skill”

Thanks to McKinnon-Mulherin Inc. for posting this in Facebook. It was written in 2017, but so much of this article applies. The coding doesn’t matter too much if the content–especially the writing–well, sucks. This article outlines several reasons why.

Even so, as I grade papers for the technical editing class that I taught this past semester, I am reminded of people who can’t write well. And I wonder where things fall apart in their education? I mean, I was a decent grammar student as a kid, but I was no writer. And yet, with a good foundation, I’ve been doing some sort of writing through my entire professional life, through several careers. I went to back to school to validate and beef up my skills.  How do people who work in coding, business, marketing, sales, journalism, communications, or other careers that involve writing not have a good foundation anymore? I’m not saying this is true of everyone, but you know it’s out there. You know you’ve seen it in others. Is it something not stressed enough at a young age, or glossed over as we progress through our education? I’m thinking that many teachers outside of English classes aren’t enforcing correct writing, which isn’t helping anything. If anything, it’s making it worse. And as this article points out, it’s now a “unicorn” skill that really shouldn’t be. We need more people to have these skills more than ever!

What do you think of this? Include your comments below.


Danielle M. Villegas is a technical communicator who currently employed at Cox Automotive, Inc., and freelances as her own technical communications consultancy, Dair Communications. She has worked at the International Refugee Committee, MetLife, Novo Nordisk, BASF North America, Merck, and Deloitte, with a background in content strategy, web content management, social media, project management, e-learning, and client services. Danielle is best known in the technical communications world for her blog,, which has continued to flourish since it was launched during her graduate studies at NJIT in 2012. She has presented webinars and seminars for Adobe, the Society for Technical Communication (STC), the IEEE ProComm, TCUK (ISTC) and at Drexel University’s eLearning Conference. She has written articles for the STC Intercom, STC Notebook, the Content Rules blog, and The Content Wrangler as well. She is very active in the STC, as a former chapter president for the STC-Philadelphia Metro Chapter, and is currently serving on three STC Board committees. You can learn more about Danielle on LinkedIn at, on Twitter @techcommgeekmom, or through her blog. All content is the owner's opinions, and does not reflect those of her employers past or present.

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