I may have graduated from college when N’SYNC and the Backstreet Boys were still topping the charts, but that doesn’t mean the homework has ended! Every time I get a new client, or a new project, I still have to do my research. In order to provide an effective solution to my client’s problem, I need to learn everything I can about THEIR clients, their business, and their goals. Graphic design is just a visual solution to a problem. That’s it. Yes, it’s a type of art, but it’s end goal is to solve a problem. So here’s a breakdown of what this process looks like:
1.Research the business.
Let’s say I’m designing a logo for a hair salon. I’d start by learning everything I could about their business-how they got started, why they’re in business, what they focus on, etc. Basically, learn the how and why of their business.
2.Research their competitors.
Once I know everything about their business, I start researching their competitors. I look at what they’re doing, and use it as a springboard to start the process of providing a design solution.
3.Research their target audience.
I can’t provide an effective solution for their problem, without knowing WHO they’re trying to sell to. For example, if their ideal client is children, then the logo and marketing materials should reflect that. A masculine, angular logo would not be as effective as a more playful, colorful logo.
4. What are their goals?
In order to solve their problem, I need to know where they want to go! You can’t give directions without knowing their destination. So knowing what the client’s goals are is crucial to delivering effective materials.
5.Think, think, think
As Winnie the Pooh once said, think, think, think. For some people, that means on paper with a pencil, for some, it’s just in their head. I do a combination of both. I usually start by going for a walk outside. Being in nature really helps spark my imagination, so a walk outside is always helpful for me. I usually spend quite a bit of time thinking of ideas before even getting to the pencil and paper part. Once I have a few ideas, then I break out the sketch pad and pencils, and start drawing out some rough sketches. This could all take anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks. When I get to the point where I think 2-3 of the sketches are fleshed out, and I’m happy with them, THEN I get on the computer. So really, the computer and programs are just a tool I use to put my brainchild out into the world.
That’s it! Luckily for me, I love the homework. Hands down, it’s the most important part of the process. Without it, I couldn’t do my job well.
As always, shoot me a message if you have any questions, or drop your comment below.
Photo Credit: Rose Trail Images
I’m starting a new series of topics that will hopefully help new designers on their journey. First up- knowing which program to use. For the purposes of this article, we will only focus on Adobe programs, as those are the industry standard.
Adobe Illustrator: Just like the name says, it’s used for illustrating. It’s what you want to use if you’re creating logos. It can also be used for designing a poster, or postcard, although I prefer InDesign for those. Illustrator creates vector files, and allows you to save the files as AI (Adobe Illustrator), EPS (Encapsulated PostScript), PDF, or SVG, amongst others. You will mostly save files as EPS or PDF, unless saving them for web use.
Adobe Photoshop: Photoshop is THE tool to use to edit photos. Most photographers will use Lightroom to edit their photos, but Photoshop is where you would go to remove a stray sign, clean up a tabletop, or edit the color of a flower. Some people use Photoshop for layout, but there are MUCH better programs you can use that give you more flexibility and control.
Adobe InDesign: InDesign was Adobe’s answer to QuarkXpress. InDesign came along, and quickly took over as the go-to layout tool. InDesign was created to integrate seamlessly with Photoshop and Illustrator. It also addressed several of the issues people had with Quark, such as poor customer service. Quark has made huge strides, but it’s too little, too late now. InDesign has such a stronghold on the market, Quark stands little chance of making a comeback.
InDesign is mainly a page layout program, used to lay out every from books and newspapers, to postcards and business cards. It especially shines when laying out multi-page documents, although I personally use it to layout just about everything.
Have more questions about how to use these? Shoot me a message!