Rationale: the importance of good communication in graphic design
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Rationale: the importance of good communication in graphic design

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In this presentation James Cotton, founder of digital creative agency Onespacemedia examines why clients don’t always understand design decisions and why, as creative professionals, we need to base ...

In this presentation James Cotton, founder of digital creative agency Onespacemedia examines why clients don’t always understand design decisions and why, as creative professionals, we need to base our decisions on strong rationale.

This presentation was given at Creative Front Futures, an event for students and graduates at J2 in Cambridge. http://www.creativefront.org/projects-and-events/events/futures

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Rationale: the importance of good communication in graphic design Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Rationale: the importance of good communication in graphic design James Cotton, Onespacemedia Creative Front Futures 26 March 2014
  • 2. “Why is the logo in the top left of the site?” “Why is the buy button green? I think it should be red to stand out more.” “Why is there so much white space? Can we fill it with an ad or something?” Why designers need to rationalise their decisions
  • 3. What we’re going to cover 1. Background. 2. Never underestimate the importance of research. 3. Build an inclusive and transparent relationship with your client. 4. How good communication plays a vital role in a successful design project. 5. How to unveil your work. 6. Rationale: the good and the bad (putting it all into practice).
  • 4. Background I’m a self-taught graphic designer with a degree in computer science. I’ve got more than twenty years experience in the creative industries and now run digital agency Onespacemedia. I used to design on a computer just like this one.
  • 5. Never underestimate the importance of research • Always design to a brief or plan. • What are the client’s objectives? • How will your work help to achieve those objectives? • If the brief isn’t comprehensive enough, evolve it. • Agree on what needs to be done before you start the design process.
  • 6. Build a great relationship with your client • Learn how a client communicates and adapt your style. • Know the client’s business inside out. • Don’t patronise. • Refer to how your work will help meet the client’s objectives. • Comfortable, happy clients are more likely to buy into your ideas.
  • 7. A transparent and inclusive process (that you control) • Avoid design by committee: try to keep the client review team to one or two people. • Keep everyone informed, regularly. • Ensure that the client feels part of the process. • Fewer surprises mean more chance of sign-off. • Use a project management system to manage complexity.
  • 8. The big day: how to unveil your work • Control the environment: tell the client how you want to do things. • Avoid presenting to too many people. • Set-up for a discussion rather than a presentation. • Provide a comprehensive narrative. • Avoid sending designs by email. • Pick your battles (but it’s better not to have any!).
  • 9. “Why is the logo in the top left of the site? I want it to be in the centre” “Most sites have logos in the top left.” Don’t say:
  • 10. “Why is the logo in the top left of the site?” “It’s a widely recognised convention to place branding in the top left of a website because this is the first place the eye settles on a page. Because this is a new company, it’s important to get your brand noticed. This is why I have put the logo in the most prominent position on the page.” Do say:
  • 11. “Why is the ‘buy’ button green? I think it should be red.” “Groupon’s buttons are green and they are very successful so I copied them.” Don’t say:
  • 12. “Why is the ‘buy’ button green? I think it should be red.” “When I designed this button I considered its placement, shape, text and colour. I chose this shade of green to be complementary to your brand colours whilst also being distinctive enough to stand out as an easy to recognise call to action. How about we try it out on the live site - we could even A/B test with another colour to see which drives the most clicks?” Do say:
  • 13. “Why is there so much white space here? Can we fill it up with an ad or something?” “That will look rubbish!” Don’t say:
  • 14. “Why is there so much white space here? Can we fill it up with an ad or something?” “The white space exists in this design to reduce the tension between the various elements on the page. I’ve used white space to balance the text, carousel and the call to action that we want the visitor to focus on. If we fill up this space the design will lose its individuality, look too busy and confuse the user. If you really need to include this ad, let me think about how to do it and get back to you.” Don’t say:
  • 15. Thank you James Cotton Website: www.onespacemedia.com Email: james@onespacemedia.com Twitter: @jamescotton The slides and script will be available at www.onespacemedia.com later today