As Blue Frog’s newest employee and Full-Time designer I am excited to share my thoughts on the various aspects that make up successful design. I studied Graphic and Web Design at the University of Iowa, where I not only learned what great design was, but how to create it. After graduating I worked in the Twin Cities area, designing ad-specialty products and clothing, along with free-lance work in various fields of design. I had the opportunity to work with organizations from all walks of life. Large corporations to small start up businesses, with various levels of applied design. The one thing all of these organizations have in common is pride in what they represent, so it is important that the overall look and feel of their organization’s identity represents that pride and professionalism. Understanding aspects of effective design is important for informed decision-making regarding an organization’s overall identity. Today I would like to discuss a few important aspects of strong design that should be considered in all areas of an organization’s design.
Balance- This is important and can be represented in all aspects of design work. A common type of balance is symmetry, which exists not only in nature but also in great design. It is important for all design to be equally distributed, and therefore visually pleasing. This balance can be achieved not only by the size of objects considered, but also their value. Different types of objects can also achieve balance with one another. Strong text can be balanced by a photo or illustration when the above points are considered.
Economy or Simplicity- It is quite easy for the design novice to overly complicate things with the intention of producing strong design. It is important to keep in mind that successful, and easily identifiable design tends to simple, and easily absorbed in a short time. This can also be represented by the old principle “less is more.”
Hierarchy- Organizing the importance of the various aspects of your design can be tricky. It is important that one decides beforehand the overall message of a piece and establishes a strong hierarchy, to not only portray that message but also to captivate potential viewers with its intuitiveness. A weak hierarchy can cause a person to become lost in the design piece, not knowing where to look first and how to piece together the central message. A good example of hierarchy is a typical print or online article, where the title is often enlarged and/or bolded followed with the author’s information and then the introductory or thesis paragraph followed by the main content.
Contrast- This principle is seen when various elements are combined, creating a variety necessary to not only make things legible, but also contributing to a pieces hierarchy. We have all visited a website where the text color and background color either do not compliment each other and cause eye strain, or are too similar to each other and making it virtually illegible. Good contrast can contribute to all of the above aspects, and generate interest simultaneously.
Space- Last but certainly not least, space can often be considered the most important aspect of successful design, and can be easily overlooked by many. This can also be referred to as “negative Space” or “white Space” and refers to the areas of a design left open and unmarked. For example this space can be seen in margins and gutters of text, as well as the areas left open around a companies’ logo on a piece of print material, or their web site. A typical problem most people have with space is considering it to be blank, or lacking in any sort of visual representation, when it is quite the opposite. Space allows for the elements of a design to exist together peacefully. As I previously mentioned good use of space can help contribute to balance, hierarchy, economy, and contrast. However when this “white” space is used incorrectly it can at times make pieces look unpolished, or unfinished.
There are many more things that contribute to great design, but if the above aspects are considered you will be well on your way to identifying great design when you see it. You will also be able to discuss why a design is successful, and be able to constructively criticize design and make informed decisions that will benefit your organization.
Blue Frog offers various design, identity, and web services for the Des Moines area and beyond. These services include business cards, branding, logos, websites, newsletters, and much more.