Form & Function

Hooray for my first post! I’ve been drafting a lot of my thoughts on writing and design for a while, especially as I learn and gain more experience, so I’m planning on posting more and more here. Hopefully it’ll spark some good conversation.

I’ve decided to start these conversations with an idea that’s important to all types of writing and editing: form and function. After all, it’s never just about what you say – it’s just as important to consider how you’re saying it.

This is an important element that many writers miss. Ignore the function (purpose) of your writing and you’ll lose precious insight on the form  (design) that your writing should take.

Writing isn’t isolated. You’ll always be writing for an audience and your writing will always have a message. This message won’t be well-received by the audience without careful consideration of how both affect the text. Knowing your text’s function will, in the long run, help you choose its optimal form.

This is really easy to see when you think of website design and copywriting.

Form and Function in harmony: iPhone 7’s website

The purpose of iPhone 7’s webpage is to provide information about the new phone and lead readers to purchase their own.

Rather than detail every improvement this newest phone achieves, however, Apple chooses to instead focus on big declarations – a minimalistic style that not only reflects their company brand, but also helps draw and keep attention. What the site lacks in immediate information it makes up for with eye-catching boldness that ultimately and easily leads readers to pages with more detail.

This webpage is a good example of how form and function intertwine. Apple knows their audience, their platform, and the expectations placed upon the iPhone 7, and presents a really clear website because of their awareness.

When Function doesn’t meet Form: Penny Juice

Unfortunately for Penny Juice, their 2002 copyrighted website has been on a number of “bad website design” lists.

The company actually has good information including distributor locations, juice flavors available, and even product reviews. Unfortunately all that goodness is lost beneath a sea of flashing lights, bright colors, and caps lock. No matter how great the website’s content is, its design blinds the audience from reading it.

Granted this website, unlike the iPhone7’s, is extremely outdated, but it still stands as a good example of how form doesn’t  fit function.

So what?

As you can see in these examples, and in many more around the world, the form of your writing must fit your function. Whether you’re creating a website, designing a proposal, or even just writing a letter, keeping your writing’s function in mind will help you decide on the best form.

And when form and function combine you get writing that’s not only good, but well-presented – and that’s ultimately the goal of good writing.

In summary:

Function (purpose, audience, message)

will always inform

form (style, medium, Platform).

If you have any great examples of form and function working (or not working), I’d love to hear about them!

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