Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Creative Process: How to Begin!

Where to begin my musings about graphic design and its role in today’s digital world of business communication? And really why the discussion? What, with today’s sophisticated software programs and available presentation graphics, anyone can claim “designer” status without taking one single graphic design course. But evidence of work done by the non-designer soon manifests when the company brochure doesn’t look so balanced in its layout, or the powerpoint presentation with nothing special to offer but the same text and background, slide after slide. Or how about the poster with every color used under the sun in unflattering combinations.
Yes, our digital world has empowered us to become the pseudo-designer if we wish, but there is something to be said about learning design basics, just the basics, that can take an ordinary presentation to an extraordinary level. With just some thought, practice and appropriate application of the design basics, you can create a piece that is attractive and communicates its message effectively!
It’s with this purpose, I’ve begun this blog. My intention is to briefly explain and reflect upon those design elements and principles I hold dear. Although these elements and principles are to work together like the ingredients in a recipe, I will cover each separately. Are we ready then? Lets go…
Before embarking upon laying out any communication piece, my first step is always, always to gather information so I can define the problem… or rather, the purpose of the piece I’m about to layout. This fact-finding step may not be a specific design principle, however, it’s a vital part of the creative process. Following are questions that need to be answered for this research/analysis phase:
     1.     What is the purpose of the piece (be it a brochure, flier, presentation, poster, card)?
     2.     What is the piece to communicate? What is its primary message?
     3.     Who is the target audience?
     4.     What are the demographics of this audience (young, old, female, male, etcetera)?
     5.     How will the target audience be receiving this piece (online, email, eblast, mail)?
     6.     Who are the competitors and how do they set themselves apart in the marketplace?
The chart below illustrates research as first step of the creative solving process:

Here’s a link with more thoughtful questions to use as part of this step and explanations from Pace University:
Once questions are answered and analyzed you can move forward to defining the creative problem. In this way, you are clear as to what the purpose of the piece is going to be. What its ultimate goal is in communicating whatever message you define in the analysis process. It’s imperative to have an understanding of what creative problem you are trying to solve… research and analysis get you to that level of comprehension.
Then next step will be to figure out the optimal format and size of the piece that will best communicate the design. I will cover format in my next blog entry. 

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