I’ve known Andy for over 10 years now, and he’s responsible for some simply incredible web and print design work. While I should admit that he’s my brother in law in the interest of full transparency, that doesn’t take away from the amount of talent I believe he possesses.
To me, graphic design is among the most difficult pursuits in business. It’s subjective, it’s fluid, and it’s hard to please anyone, much less everyone. I asked Andy how he feels about graphic design in the modern business environment.
1.) As a graphic designer, you’re constantly tasked with taking what usually are shapeless and abstract ideas from marketing teams or business leaders and turning them into identifiable visual representations of products and brands. What’s the key to communicating well with non-designers, and making sure everyone is on the same page at the start of a project?
I usually try to have some sort of story to associate to in order to solve a creative problem. I use a basic structure creative brief that can be written or verbal. Depending on the complexity of the project I will send the client/stakeholders a version that they can fill out and return to me. The questions covered in the brief range from: Who is your audience? What is your call to action? to very specific or geeky things like resolution or size requirements. This gets the who what where and how out of the way. The story is starting to take shape.
Once we have the story and the players defined I do some research about the creative problem that I am tasked to solve. I ask subject matter experts or other co-workers with more background information to weigh in on what the problem is and how best to solve it in addition to the client intake (character development). I also do some good old fashioned google searches and come to a better understanding of what is going on in the clients’ world. I would even scour social media to see if there are any common comments among their customers. What I find out in this exploring phase of the project gives me ideas of what to do and what not to do.
2.) For web design, what do you think constitutes a good mobile device layout? How should it differ from the standard web site?
Mobile websites should be simple, elegant and usable. Simplicity is really the key to making mobile experiences rich. There isn’t a lot of room for a lot of design embellishments on the content because it just takes up room. The typefaces and UI elements should be large enough so that people who are using touch devices can easily click on the items without the device choosing for you. It should be linear top to bottom so that there is room to scroll and click. It is a good idea to always have a link to the desktop site just in case your mobile site has less functionality than the desktop site. Functionality should be very seamless for the top 10 activities pages or functions of your site so that people are not frustrated and have to pinch and zoom all over the place and get a C+ experience even if your content is great!
3.) For both web and non web design, is there a way to still show a timeless look? Or is being trendy, cutting edge and hip too important to even consider the idea of timelessness?
Timelessness and web design are somewhat strange bedfellows. Since content and trends are always evolving web design should also evolve. There is such a thing as too edgy and too hip if it gets in the way of displaying the content of a page or hiding the functions of the page/app.
[important]Head on over and read the rest of the 3 Questions with Industry Experts series.[/important]