More Than Making Things Look Pretty
14 May 2018 | Less than a minute to read
Design. What is it? Is it really a job? - Yes, it’s a job. It’s my job but also my passion.
Design is described as “the creation of a plan or convention for the construction of an object.” I see it as art with a purpose.
If you look around you, everything you see has been designed. Each aspect has a reason - a function. The phone you’re holding, or laptop you’re using.
You’ll notice that not everything functional is necessarily aesthetic. There are many things you use, a drink bottle, your pen, that are ergonomic (fit/work with the human form) making them easy to use and more functional.
There is a marriage of function and aesthetics, yet sometimes one wins over the other. But when they work together the result is a functional and beautiful design, the best kind of design!
A great example of everyday design is to look at the lower shelves in the supermarket at their ‘home brand’ products. Is this good design? Most people would look at its basic two colours, san serif font and say not, that it looks ‘cheap’. But there you have it. This plain, unstimulating design is intentional - you look and know straight away that the product is affordable. So not all design it awe-inducing, most design you see is functional.
My favourite pathway of design is graphic design. It’s part making elements on a ‘page’ look good and part conveying information.
For example, creating a poster for an event. Its function is to inform people about the event so they attend. Which means it needs key details such as time, location and description. Yes, you could type/write those details onto a page and be done. That would be functional, but would it be aesthetically pleasing or even eye-catching? Probably not. It would be overwhelming, having all the text one size.
In the above poster, the goal was to let people know at a glance that it was a school gala day. This is where the use of text hierarchy is important, as well as using a friendly and playful font and the colours of the school to help portray the message. The important parts are drawn out using larger text. Then once the viewer has engaged the other information is given. Another consideration was production cost. It was being printed in-house by the school so having a white background meant less ink used.
On the right, I have a text filled page that has all the same information used in the poster but with no hierarchy given. It shows that the layout of information matters and the use of colour is helpful too.
There are many considerations to make when designing a poster. And as shown in the St Pius X Gala day poster they don't have to all be full colour with multiple images to fit their purpose.
While in this poster, the goal is to let the viewer know about this preseason game and who made it possible. The hierarchy is different here than the St Pius X poster. Firstly, who’s playing followed by where and when.
In case the initial viewer is unsure who the Mountainairs are, there is a basketball player to give you a clue. This player also works as a visual link drawing your eyes down the page, he is initially placed facing in because this keeps the viewer's eyes focused inside the frame (if he was facing/looking out it would make you too).
Here the use of full colour was appropriate as it was being professionally printed. The colour worked well with the Mountainairs own colours plus the red was taken from their major sponsor - Augusta. Compare that to the text-only version. It again shows that text size and colour help in how we read things and whether we will keep reading.
Design needs hierarchy (as well as other key design principles) so that the viewer can glance at the poster and get the gist quickly. By using colour and other design elements you also set a tone for what the event will be like.
That poster is a consumer's first impression of your event. What do you want to express? Good design allows you to convey a positive lasting impression.
Good design is a balance between functionality and aesthetically pleasing outcomes, it’s a graphic designers job to get the correct balance.
Have you been guilty of slapping together an image and text for your business, or a flyer created haphazardly in Word? If so, we’re here to rescue you from that scary place.