Visual content is a great way of making your content more attractive to readers. Visual elements such as photos, icons, and illustrations all can also act as a tool for communication to help drive meaning beyond written text. But what makes for a compelling visual? In this post we’ll sit down with one of Killer’s senior designers, Derek Sullivan, to learn more about how inspiration and simplicity can help lead to powerful and compelling visual content.
Q: What do you look for in a successful design?
A: Essentially, a designer’s job is to blend clear communication with engaging visuals. If a design is beautiful but confusing then it is unsuccessful. Alternatively, if it’s clear in its communication but not engaging then it is also unsuccessful.
Before nailing that balance, many specifics must be considered. For instance, what is the audience for this specific design? What is the brand identity of the client and how much room do we have to move the identity in new directions? And, most importantly, what is the overall purpose of this design project? Answering these questions is essential to beginning a project and sets us up to deliver designs that resonate with the client and their audience.
Q: Do current design trends and styles affect your decision making during the initial ideation/design phase? What are some current styles that you think are creating compelling visual content?
A: Definitely. Seeking out inspiration is vital to the design process. Not only is it important when brainstorming for specific projects, it’s important to the daily life of a designer. Inspiration can come from anywhere, at any time. There is so much great art in the world, from graphic novels, to children’s books, animation, advertisements, visual data, even music. It can all be inspiring and enlightening. It’s important to not only consume various media but to ask yourself, why did that resonate with me? Why is this successful and how can I apply what I learned from this in my next project? Alternatively, when you come across something that doesn’t work for you, it can be just as enlightening to ask yourself what about it isn’t working, and how you can avoid the same mistakes.
Q: When is the final color scheme determined/applied? Additionally, what is the process for choosing an appropriate color scheme?
A: The color scheme is one of the first things to be considered. If you don’t have a specific color scheme decided upon before creating a final design, it can make the design process more difficult. Having a proposed color scheme for the client to take a look at early on really helps everyone envision where the design is going and what to expect. Going into the final design phase knowing what colors you have to work with makes everything run much more smoothly. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the color scheme is set in stone (unless they are specific brand guidelines) and you may discover once you’re in the final design phase that you need to tweak certain colors. That’s usually okay.
There are many things to consider when choosing an appropriate color scheme — whether or not the client has brand restrictions, what audience you’re trying to reach, and what the tone of the project is. I find that having a limited color scheme is helpful in creating the look and feel of a design, so I prefer to whittle down the colors to just a few main colors and then add secondary colors if needed.
Q: There is a lot of talk about the benefits of simple design. How important is simplicity in regards to a compelling/effective design?
A: Simplicity can be very effective as a design solution, but it isn’t the right fix for every problem. Clarity is always important, but you can achieve clarity in many different ways, whether the design is simple or complex. Some projects by nature are complicated and elaborate. The designer’s job is to present information in a way that is clear and engaging and simplification is one of the many tools in our tool belt.
Q: Your client wants a visually focused campaign. What are some tips that will help them achieve a cohesive design across all content pieces?
A: Creating campaign guidelines are a great way to make sure all aspects of a campaign adhere to the same visual style. The guidelines should take into account which mediums will be used in the campaign and what they should look like — specific fonts, color schemes, illustration and photography styles, etc. They can then be used as a reference for future designers that may come onto a project at a later date and the client can be assured that the campaign will maintain a focused style.
These are only a few considerations towards creating compelling visual content. Always be sure to consult the goals of your content or campaign to help determine additional details on your direction. Have a tip for creating visual content? Feel free to comment below or contact us here.