Building and updating websites continues to be a complicated process for practitioners and lay persons alike. Keeping pace with the steady advancement of technology across browsers, devices, and operating systems is challenging. Factors such as cost and process are confusing because these aspects of website creation are constantly evolving, too.
I have a beef with my ketchup bottle and it’s got nothing to do with tomatoes. It’s this strange little graphic of a thumbtack with big capital letters boldly proclaiming: CHILD HUNGER ENDS HERE. Really, here, Ketchup Bottle? I know you don’t mean literally “here” in this bottle we’ll see the end of starvation.
My earliest memories go way, way back to when I was 2 and 3 years old. One of the most vivid memories from that era was watching Star Wars IV: A New Hope at the drive-in theater with my folks. I was not quite 3 years old. When you’re a little kid, everything around you is literally gigantic, larger than life. In my memory Darth Vader’s massively huge head filled an enormous theater screen that took up the entire night sky. That image was seared into my brain. I had nightmares about Vader for years afterwards.
I’ve been reading Unflattening by Nick Sousanis, a fascinating graphic exploration of the relationship between words and images. Drawing from science, philosophy, art, mythology and literature, Sousanis uses comic illustration to discuss how humans acquire knowledge and how visual thinking through a variety of vantage points can expand our understanding beyond what we normally apprehend.
The primary reason a marketing campaign or outreach effort fails is because the organization is missing the answers to 5 fundamental questions. In some cases, the organization may have worked toward finding answers to some of these key questions, but it will still fail if it does not reach internal consensus about their answers.
Let’s call these questions "The Big Questions" since their answers are pivotal to a company’s success. They involve understanding the purpose of the organization, why it exists in the first place, and why anyone should care.
Marketing and outreach initiatives need planning so that you have the vision and coordination ensure their success. When you communicate with clarity, intention and direction, people can be inspired to get involved or give money, buy a product or change their behavior. A communications plan defines where you are starting from, where you want to go, and how you’re going to get there. It provides the structure around which you can gain alignment and eliminate confusion—internally and externally.
As a graphic designer I want the viewer/user to have a successful and efficient interaction with what I design. But I also want to design an experience — set up a connection or reaction on multiple levels between the viewer and the designed piece. Is this a lofty goal? No, this is one of the goals of design, and reactions to it happen all the time — you just may not be consciously aware of it.
It happened in about five seconds: one moment I was climbing into bed in the top of our camper van; in the next I’d broken my arm. It was a short fall, but nevertheless damaging; I’d shattered the end of my right radius. I am generally a strong, healthy person, very active and rarely sick. So breaking a bone was a unique moment of feeling physically fragile and vulnerable, and an unpleasant reminder that even seemingly innocuous situations can be unsafe.
Everything man-made and heart-made in this world began as an idea in one person’s mind. Ideas transferred into reality are what drive the evolution and degradation of humankind. New ideas, old ideas, ancient ideas—they all began as seeds, tiny kernels of inspiration in the brain. And an individual or a group of people took it upon themselves to bring those ideas to tangible fruition.
The long low hum of the Tibetan bowl at the conclusion of yoga class. The tenor of the prayer bell struck before church service. An African drum circle in a Mozambican neighborhood. I feel these things physically as a thrumming throughout my body and quite literally my heart. The sensation is resonance and the experience of it is both harmonic and evocative.
The graphical presentation of statistical information, measurements, relationships or flows that might otherwise be confusing or inaccessible, data visualization can be an extremely effective technique to deepen reader engagement and comprehension of the subject matter.
Information graphics (infographics) are ubiquitous. With the incredible amount of data we're accumulating and needing to decipher, the propensity to turn quantitative information into compelling visuals has increased significantly. But for all the many beautiful and captivating infographics I run across, there are just as many that fail to elucidate the subject matter. The point of any type of data visualization is to allow for a universal, unquestionable and immediate understanding of the content. If you hope to accomplish this, the following should serve as a set of guidelines when creating infographics:
Smartphone photo-editing apps have made it easy for anyone to take a photo and then manipulate it until they achieve the look they are after. Filters, frames, lighting, and color adjustments are possible with just a few swipes and clicks and can produce dramatic results. But an often overlooked yet powerful editing option is the crop tool. “Okay kids, smile!” The photo is snapped. Everyone’s heads and feet are in the frame, and we can all tell it’s little Lucy and Meg — but that’s just the beginning. Use the crop tool to get creative.
as a designer:
to defend what I believe is the best solution, even when that solution didn't come from me.
as a project manager:
to lead people through the project instead of leading the project through people.
as a strategist:
to peel away the layers so I can turn question marks into declarations.
Whitespace, or negative space, is a design element that comes into play on every page you read, and every website you visit (even if you aren’t consciously aware of it or don’t know what the term means). How whitespace is used, affects how you perceive what you see at many levels.
One of the things that strikes me the most about art, about design, about what I see on the page or the screen is what I don't see. They are the moments of blankness and breath. The moments of pause. Moments where one can absorb and process before moving on.
At our recent a staff retreat, we were given a day to take a deep breath, look back, ahead, and inside, think "big-picture," and engage our brains in "active recovery." Among our homework assignments to prepare for this day, we were asked to bring something that we found inspiring or provocative. Well, that challenged us each to spend some time rolling this question around our individual heads and really ask ourselves, "So, what does inspire me?"
No matter how carefully a document is originally written and reviewed before layout, after it is formatted by the graphic designer — styles applied, pagination established and graphic elements added — clients will almost always see things that they would like to change. Sometimes these edits will be formatting issues; many times they will be changes to content.
Nearly everyone in your organization will need to work with your company's logo at some point. Either someone from outside will request a copy of it or you'll need the logo for some sort of communication material you're creating in-house. Do you have all the file types you might need, and do you know for what purposes to use them?