It’s noisy out there.
And I’m not just talking about on the street.
I mean online. There is so much action every time we dial up (hopefully you’re not still actually using dial-up) that it can be almost overwhelming to keep your sights straight.
It’s even more overwhelming when you are one of those businesses adding to the noise. Don’t get me wrong, you definitely should be. The jury’s out as to the impact of an online presence (for those late to the game the answer is a resounding YES). The internet is a great way to get your message heard. Be loud and proud. A lot of people will hear.
But you might be asking yourself what an online presence exactly entails? There’s a lot to do and see on the internet. Where should I focus my attention?
Is it on having a professional website? Maybe it’s Facebook? Or perhaps I should post more consistently to my blog?
Those are all important. In fact, you should have at least one foot in each one of those doors. But there exists an older and arguably much simpler answer to this puzzle. An answer that today seems to get ignored by many businesses but realistically could generate more leads than all those other options combined.
That answer is email.
Marketing has evolved from the days of Mad Men. The key to marketing success in the 21st century is not flash and glamour, but engagement.
Engagement is building and fostering long-term relationships with customers through continual contact.
And email is the best way to build engagement.
Too many beginner designers are under the assumption that all the ‘magic’ happens at the computer. They move into Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop way to quickly, and sit and stare at their screens hoping that some inspiration pops out at them from the pixels.
In reality, this rarely happens (if at all). Even the ‘simplest’ designs were imagined through a highly structured, multi-step process. Seasoned designers frequently go through tens and maybe hundreds of ideas and raw sketches before they narrow down to the final few ‘workable’ concepts.
These raw ideas are all generated through brainstorming.
The old adage goes, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” There’s definitely more than one way to spark creativity as well. David Sherwin shares many beneficial brainstorming techniques in his book Creative Workshop. Try out one (or more) of these exercises and see what ideas you come up with that you wouldn’t necessarily have thought of before.
This brainstorming method lets you identify a range of ideas quickly in a free-form manner.
1. In the center of your page, write the key points of focus for your brainstorm.
2. Radiating outward, jot down any related words, concepts, ideas, and even opposites.
3. Expand upon and circle relationships in the ideas that emerge.
4. Extract the big ideas and start to sketch out possible design executions.
Similar to mind mapping, word listing has a bit more structure and can sometimes yield quicker results.
Beginner designers too often feel the need to overdo their designs attempting to make them look artistic or elaborate.
We have all heard the expression “less is more”. Usually, this is said to mean ‘cheaper is better’. In truth, however, “less is more” isn’t about spending less money.
It is about achieving better design through simplicity. It is about finding the greatest impact through subtraction and restraint.
Newborn creatives try and mask their infancy with flashy graphics and elaborate typefaces. I too, was guilty of this when first starting out.
All this really does, unfortunately, is overcrowd and overcomplicate the piece. Just because a design is simple doesn’t mean its basic or uncomplex. '
Having too many elements in design gives the viewer too much to digest and takes away from the other elements in the piece and the design as a whole.
Recently we unveiled for you part 1 of our feature 20 Unignorable Rules of Graphic Design adopted from Timothy Samara’s Visual Elements: A Graphic Style Manual. If you missed it you can find it here.
In this second half of the article, I will break down for you ten more unignorable rules that constitute graphic design.
As always remember that these rules aren’t set to never be broken no matter what. Rather, when you do choose to break them do so with a specific intent in mind to better convey your message.
On that note, happy designing and let’s get started!
Artists often create for themselves, but as a designer, you create for everyone else. Your audience must know what it is you are trying to say with those shapes and lines and colors, not just a few ‘enlightened’ folks. Your designs are ultimately being used to promote a concert or relay instructions in a manual or something else communicative. While you should most definitely leave your own creative mark on every piece of work, you will be ultimately judged by how effectively you convey the message, not how pretty your piece looks.
If it’s your intention to make your piece look dull and lifeless, then, by all means, align everything with equal proportions using the same color, shape, and typeface. On the chance, you want to give it some actual life (which hint, hint you should always be doing), move things around and squish some elements together. Give the viewer’s eyes some curves to follow by creating a flowing piece ramp with contrast and density.
A person’s impression of what’s ‘good’ or ‘bad’ design generally is picked up through education and experience. Accumulated from the multitude of designers and critics who came before them, most criteria inevitably boil down to personal preference.
Some are aesthetically based, like “asymmetry is more beautiful than symmetry,” or “a neutral typeface is all you need.” Other factors are more functional, such as “never reversing a serif typeface on a solid background if it’s less than 10 points.”
All rules are meant to be broken, but they should never be completely ignored. This set is not intended to be a definitive checklist to making good design. It should, however, provide points to be considered in every creative project you take on.
Adapted from Timothy Samara’s Design Elements: A Graphic Style Manual, here are
Every, every, every design you ever make must have a meaning behind it. Plain and Simple. It doesn’t matter how beautiful your art is or how creative your graphics look. If your design doesn’t contain a story, an idea or a message you are trying to convey, it isn’t graphic design. It’s just pretty pictures on a page. Tell us something with your work.
Form carries meaning. No matter how simple or abstract that form may be, a form that doesn’t match up communicates conflicting messages to your audience. Experiment with different shapes, details, colors and effects, and explore how they all can work together to support your message. Without keeping your message in mind, your work runs the risk of simply becoming a collage of graphics no longer qualifying as communicative design. Everything the viewer sees should be there for a reason.
Opting not to have a social media presence for your company in today’s marketplace is electing to remain in the internet Stone Age. Even if you aren’t an avid user yourself, social platforms have become essential tools for promoting a brand online, plain and simple.
Growing a business through social media, however, can be much more than collecting ‘likes’ on a Facebook page and blasting out the occasional update. Entire books and courses are dedicated to a slew of ‘insider tricks’ from outwitting your competitors on Twitter to networking more efficiently on Linkedin.
While those are all great options and definitely worth looking into, in front of us all lies a painfully simple, 100% free method to blowing up your brand (in a good way) via social media that most firms are actually too afraid to even consider.
This method, my friends, is to encourage your employees to post company updates on Facebook.
The workforce is changing. In 2014 millennials account for more than a third of the driving force of our economy, a group of roughly 80 million people born between the years 1976 and 2001. By 2020 that number will nearly reach 50 percent. Why is this information newsworthy? Generation-Yers possess a unique skillset where are absent in previous generations. Unfortunately many employers are wary of hiring ‘green’ employees en lieu of their more experienced counterparts. If your firm is looking to hire new talent, here are a few reasons why you should seriously consider recruiting recent college graduates to fill your vacant positions.
No need to beat around the bush here--young people are a much cheaper addition to your payroll. Entry level salaries are much lower than those demanded by tenured workers. Tom Szaky, the CEO of the environmental group TerraCycle prefers to hire new grads, stating that they can afford to hire “two or three junior people for the price of one senior hire.”
Young people do not necessarily feel taken advantage of for making less. For many this is their first full time job, and the average newly grad prefers social media freedom, work flexibility and a comfortable office environment over a higher salary. In fact, according to a study recently conducted by the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, this current upcoming generation places the potential for personal growth and career progression, not a high salary, as the two most important factors in choosing a job.