Content is king, but do we really understand what we are designing?
Understanding the purpose, cause or rationale of the content before designing is fundamental to being able to continue its story. There are no rules set in stone, but here are some principles that I have found helpful:
- Establishing an anchor for your design. This can only be achieved once you have found the “why” of the content; this, in turn, will determine the tone of voice.
- Don’t be shy! Opening up and sharing your ideas from the outset is key, as different perspectives will inevitably enrich the design.
- Subconsciously seek inspiration. Many of us will have a ‘lightbulb’ moment when we least expect it, so why schedule time for research? Instead, constantly look for inspiration. Cut it, paste it, photograph it, even get the notepad out and sketch it.
- Recognise that the story could be part of a bigger one, and make sure your design is also. This can easily be achieved when designing within brand guidelines, but the story could be bigger than the company or organisation.
- Are they sitting (or standing) comfortably? Think about the GPS of your reader – when and where will they be reading the content? For example, text that is meant to be read on the go will be set within narrow columns for a faster read.
- Is the reader getting the message and being inspired? There are many design elements that control these factors. Hierarchies created through typography can be used to great effect, controlling the reader’s focus with the use of different typeface weights and point sizes.
- Avoid designing the unnecessary – apply some reasoning. Although this doesn’t mean that every design element must have a business objective, a reader’s smile can also provide value.
- Finally, don’t forget the technical. All the hard work preparing, starting and doing will be a waste of time if the finished product unintentionally has, for example, low-resolution images.
Everyone loves storytelling, so make your design be part of an unforgettable one.