Good design comes with experience, but also revising and taking your time.
Design isn’t about owning a tool on your computer or having a folder full of free fonts. Design is about taking an idea and creativity communicating it to your audience. This article will describe a few key steps that I take with every design I work on and how I revise my work.
Design is about finding solutions to problems and challenges that may arise. These challenges are usually faced with how to properly communicate with a target audience in the most effective way possible, while at the same time, having the ability to evoke some kind of internal emotion from the visual way these things are communicated.
Similar to writing an essay or thesis, design should be approached in various steps. Before opening up any program and starting to throw fonts, layers and textures around, it’s best to do your homework. Research is the key to beginning a successful piece of design. You should ask yourself these simple questions:
1. What is the goal I am trying to communicate?
2. Who is this for?
3. What is the target audience?
Once you have a good idea of the goals for your design piece, you can then enter the creative part of the design. This is what “separates the men from the boys” in the design world. Taking the goals and what you are trying to communicate into perspective and having the ability to successfully execute a design to not only communicate, but evoke some kind of emotional response with your audience will set your design, your client and yourself apart from the competition.
If your design doesn’t properly communicate the goals of the design, then it is not good design. Period.
Write down a few key things that the design will include. Start with a few visual elements such as textures, photography. Find out what kind of color scheme would work well with this design, maybe it calls for a warm color palette or some very modern bright colors. I use colorlovers.com to quickly find color schemes. It’s an easy way to visually see colors and palettes….
Last, but definitely not least, you should be able to decide (or have a rough idea) about what kind of typography this design needs. If it calls for a classic feel I usually find a nice serifed font like “Hoefler” or “Mrs. Eaves” or “Rockwell”. If the design leans more towards a modern feel, I usually think about popular clean typefaces such as “Helvetica” or “Futura” or “Franklin Gothic”. Depending on the type of design, sometimes I will work with a typeface in Illustrator and customize the typeface depending on what the design calls for.
You might be one of those people who can sit down, knock out a design on the first round and think “Man, this is awesome” and you’re done. I used to think I was that person. The truth is, everything can always be better than what it currently is. Always revising your design isn’t just a good thing to do, it’s necessary. The truth is, I will get into “design mode” for a few hours and come up with something that I really like. But I will save out that file and come back to it in a few hours or a few days and critically look at what I have done.
I usually ask myself these questions:
1. Is the composition correct?
2. How is the spacing throughout the piece?
3. Are the colors too strong or distract from the message?
4. Is the line height, font size, and typography working well?
5. Do the margins provide enough “breathing room”?
6. Do the textures distract from the piece?
7. Is the imagery/photography appropriate for this design?
Beautiful design doesn’t always happen on the first stroke of genius. Keeping in mind that revisions are necessary to find a solution to a problem (design) will help you be a better designer. Always ask yourself questions and try to find solutions to the challenges faced in any design.
Keeping these questions in mind, understanding your audience and realizing what you are trying to communicate are the core components to developing a design that is functional, communicates properly, and will make you a better designer.