If you haven’t read the previous blog Communicate Effectively, stop! You can read it here and then come back!
Communicate effectively by knowing 7 Areas of Design: The Process, Direction, Look, Letters, Web, Acronyms, and File types! That’s a lot to cover, but don’t worry we’ll break it down into manageable parts.
We’ll go into a little more detail this time, so you are as prepared as possible to discuss your projects with a designer! There are key terms that you need to know when talking to your designer and we’ll cover them in each of the 7 areas.
1. The Design Process
This is a brief overview of the steps your designer will take your through.
- Creative Brief – This is a general questionnaire your designer will walk you through to see where you are, what your goals are with this new project and cover, generally, what’s expected of each party.
- Contract – This document is legally binding and covers all expectations of the designer, client, and details the project.
- First Draft – This is the very first version of your end product that your designer will show you. This is where constructive criticism is welcomed so your designer can course-correct and give you the best product.
- 3 Revisions – The typical number of revisions a project is allowed. This maximizes productivity and improves communication.
- Final Product – This is the publication-ready design you contracted your designer for whether it’s a logo, website, graphic, photo, video, etc.
2. Communicate the Direction
Here, you need to know what your end product will be in order for your designer to know how to get there!
- References – Photos, graphics, videos, styles, etc. whose work you admire, want to emulate or avoid.
- Creative Direction – Management of the design process. You’ve contacted your designer because they are an expert in their area. Generally, your designer will provide creative direction, while you (the client) provide the details for a project.
- Stock Photos – professional photographs of common places, landmarks, nature, events or people that are bought and sold on a royalty-free basis and can be used and reused for commercial design purposes.
- Brand Colors/Fonts – The colors and fonts used exclusively with your brand. This is, partly, what identifies you from other companies in your market.
- Web or Print – Format is essential. Your designer needs to know whether your end product(s) will be used online or be printed in order to provide the correct files of the end product.
3. Communicate the Look
Decide on the format of your final product!
- Bleed – This is used for print designs. The “bleed” is the area of your image that goes beyond the edge of where the sheet will be trimmed. Thus, the bleed gives the printer a small amount of space to account for paper movement or inconsistencies.
- Grid – Most designs are going to use a grid, this helps your designer place the text and image content of your project in a visually pleasing way.
- White Space – The negative space in a design, the portion that is left unmarked. White space does not have to be white it can be any color!
- Gradient – This refers to a color gradient. Usually, you’ll have one color (say on the left), and a second color (on the right). The middle ground is a gradual mesh (tint) of the two.
- Size – The length, width (and occasionally height) or your end product. A poster is 11”x17”. A Facebook post would be 1200 x 628 pixels.
4. Communicate The Letters
Do you have a Brand Guide? If not, you’ll need to either pick a font or let your designer recommend font(s) best suited to your project.
- Typography – The style and appearance of printed materials.
- Leading – The distance between lines of text.
- Kerning – The space between individual characters (letters).
- Font – A printable and/or displayable set of text characters in a specific style and size.
There’s a lot to learn, but if you’ve come this far you’ve got this! There’s only 3 more areas to cover and you’ll be able to communicate effectively with your design team!
5. Effective Website Design
There are a few key points to a website, here are the basics.
- Responsive – An approach to web design that makes the web pages render well on a variety of devices, windows, and screen sizes.
- Web Colors – Colors used in displaying web pages.
- Resolution – The number of pixels contained on a display monitor. The sharpness of the image on a display depends on the resolution and size of the monitor.
- Web Safe Fonts – These are your backup fonts in case your chosen font does not load on your website.
6. Know The Acronyms
Break out the notebook, we’re going over some old school definitions!
- CMYK – Cyan, Magenta, Yello, Black. This is the color profile used for print materials.
- RGB – Red, Green, Blue. These are the colors used for graphics on web-based displays.
- DPI/PPI – Dots per inch or pixels per inch. This is the resolution of your print (dpi) or web (ppi) graphic. Industry standards say your image should have 300 ppi at 100% size when printed.
- UI – User Interface, how the user and the computer interact (so if this was referring to a phone app it would be the screen/keyboard on your phone).
- UX – User Experience, the overall experience of a person using a product (such as a website). Usually, this is referred to in terms of how easy an experience it was, or how pleasing.
7. Know The Files
Be clear (and communicate effectively) about the final format you want to receive your project in. Oftentimes, your designer will provide 3-4 formats to cover all the bases.
- .JPEG – A common (lossy) image file format for digital images (particularly photographs)
- .GIF – A file format for animated graphics and a common image format used on the web.
- .PDF – Portable Document Format, it’s exactly as it sounds. This is best used for sharing documents that cannot be modified across computers, but can still be printed.
- .PNG – A lossless data compression format that supports transparent backgrounds.
- .PSD – Adobe Photoshop layered image file, this is the default format Photoshop uses for saving. Thus, this format allows the user to make changes to the file.
- .MP4 – A file format commonly used to store video and audio.
- .MOV – A (MPEG 4) video container file format used by Apple’s Quicktime program.
- .AI/.EPS – Adobe Illustrator (.ai) file is primarily used for vector graphics. A .eps document saved from Illustrator can be easily placed within another program.
- .IND/.IDML – Adobe InDesign file primarily used for professional print and digital layout.
To summarize, you need to be knowledgeable in these 7 areas to communicate effectively with your designer: The Process, Direction, Look, Letters, Web, Acronyms, and File types. That’s a lot!
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