|Client logo by David Pemberton|
Learning new skills all the time-- yesterday I was victorious in my first ever WordPress install. I seem to have added a new hat to my collection. A nonprofit client who has called upon my writing and social media skills for the past year has also thrown a huge web development project at me that I am very excited about. This also means I have to learn how to be a web dev, fast!
Web development is far different from any other type of project I usually do. I talk a lot as a copywriter about how good writing is about being a good translator. It's a matter of understanding what other people want to say, and who they are saying it to, translating from one voice to another, and overcoming your own natural way of putting things when speaking for yourself. Web development is also a matter of language, in a different way. You have to actually know how to code in different programing languages and become fluent in the strange grammar of < > / / ?? etc. There are unfamiliar. For example, my WordPress install last night was stalled until an experienced friend pointed out that I hadn't capitalized one of the commands. Who knew that in the world of 1's and 0's underneath my hands on this laptop that was a difference that mattered?
I'm thinking a lot about language and translation even in my personal life. I spent the weekend with a slew of visitors from Normandy, France, who have descended upon a friend of mine's house for an upcoming wedding. I was one of the only people in the house who didn't speak French. Although I've traveled a lot, I've rarely been in a truly immersive linguistic experience. I've been able to skate by on the cushion of the global adoption of English and helpful tour guides. I realize now what a loss that has been, after the delight of helping one another find phrases and learning the quirks of inflection and gendering. When I took language classes in high school, the joy of speaking was often crushed under the weight of drilling conjugations and verbs, tasks that aren't fun even in your native tongue.
After two new kinds of translation with my French-Tennessee weekend and web dev introduction, I'm definitely thinking about copywriting and how I approach it differently, and even social media. Having the right information isn't enough to entice people to friend a page online or pen a compelling blog article. You need to know those nuances, like when to capitalize your commands, or how to inflect your "Ça va" in French, or when a client will favor a certain style, like taking an approach of greater brevity, or including more or less corporate jargon. Communication is communication no matter the specific project. Communication matters in relationships, both business and professional, online and off. It's as simple, and as difficult, as that.