Graphic Design is Everywhere. And Businesses Need It.
The other week I was browsing around Tumblr, a habit I often times find myself doing. I randomly stumbled upon a post with a screenshot from a segment of the Today Show featuring the “Top 5 Most Useless College Majors.” Slated on that list at number four was "Communication Arts & Graphic Design."
Useless? Really? I was taken aback by this. In our consumer-based society, we are exposed to countless works by graphic designers every day.
Design + your life
Let's think about this scenario:
You wake up at 6:30 for work and head into the kitchen for some breakfast. You glance through your pantry and grab a box of your favorite cereal. You might not put much thought into it, but that box was designed by a graphic designer so that you can recognize the specific brand amongst the numerous choices of cereal at the grocery store.
While you eat your breakfast, you read the morning news. You pull up your choice of news app on your tablet, featuring a recognizable logo designed by a graphic designer. This brings you to the home screen, featuring a user interface designed by a graphic designer so you can navigate through the news and find the stories you want to read.
On your way to work, you decide to grab a cup of coffee. You pull into the drive-thru line of Starbucks and browse the menu — designed by a graphic designer — to find the coffee that seems most enticing.
When you place your order, you pull up to the window and are handed a cup of coffee, with the Starbucks logo, designed by a graphic designer.
Before you even get to work, you are already exposed to a variety of works by a graphic designer. That number only increases throughout the day: websites, mobile apps, products at the supermarket, movie posters at the theater; all of these things are designed by someone with a supposedly useless degree.
Design + your business
I cannot stress enough the role good design plays in the success of your business. The design and branding of your business is what gives your potential customers the first impression of who you are and what your company is about.
In the case of the Internet, your company's website says a lot about your business. I can say from personal experience that if a company has a poorly designed website that causes frustration as I navigate through the website (technical term: cognitive friction!), it leaves me with a poor impression of your company.
I’m not alone in this. According to Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, almost half of the consumers evaluated stated that design was the number one criteria when evaluating a website's credibility.
When creating a website, nitpick the details. Create a well-designed website that intrigues users and makes them want to dig through and find out more about your company.
When creating an advertisement, imagine a consumer flipping through a magazine and pausing at the page of your ad to admire the awesome design and take in the information. Hardly anyone would stop to admire a poorly designed ad (unless it's that bad; in which case, you still failed).
Successful business design
Okay, so you have your business, and you want some attention-grabbing designs. Keep these two tips in mind — even if you're designing on a small budget — if you want to achieve a successful design.
Consistency is key
Once you have you established your brand (color scheme, logo and fonts), stick with it. It's okay to mix things up a little, but make sure the designs for your business are consistent and align with the overall look and feel of your company.
Keep things simple
One of my art history professors said that simplicity is the hardest form of writing and I believe that applies to design, too! It's easy to overload with information and images on a certain design or website because it doesn't feel "finished."
Refrain from putting too much stuff on your website. Don't overwhelm the viewer with all sorts of images and text — it distracts them from the goal or message of your company. Strip away unnecessary content and allow the user to take in information easily.
Keep your designs interesting. While you want them to be simple, make them interesting, too! Finding the perfect balance between "fresh" and "simple" is what makes something well-designed.
While creating designs can be a bit of challenge, once you have established your brand, the visual aspects of your business should be able to come together smoothly.
More on branding and design
- Why you should make your content look great on all devices
- It's not strategy until you brand it
- Be fanatical, not flexible, about your process
[Image: Matt MacGillivray, cropped/resized]