Allison Goodman, author of The 7 Essentials of Graphic Design, gives a comprehensive overview of the basic principles when creating a graphic design. Graphic design is a career field for some and the products of graphic designers are around us each and every day. Whether it’s the cover of your favorite beach read, that billboard you see on your way to work, or a brochure you receive at a lecture, these are just some example of graphic design in our everyday lives. The way something is designed can affect the way in which a person views or comes to understand the product.
Goodman begins Chapter 1 by discussing the importance of research before beginning the graphic design process. As a graphic designer, your main job is to portray the “true essence of a client’s business or organization–which is impossible to do without research.” The more you know about a client and their business’ goals, the easier and more successful the design process will be.
So what are some of Goodman’s research strategies?
- Question & Answer:
This is simply asking the client what their goals for the project are and the who, what, where, when, why, and how. For example, if someone is conducting research for a high-end boutique, it would be important for that person to find out the about target audience or demographics of their shoppers.
2. Find Existing Examples:
Going along with the high-end boutique example, it would be important for the designer to seek out similar, successful, competing brands of the boutique to see how they market themselves graphically. Taking note of other boutiques business cards, shopping bags, window displays, etc., would all be useful research.
3. Create A Typical Scenario:
When a designer is having difficulty understanding the direction the client wants to go with the project, it is smart to create a typical scenario. Furthermore, this involves writing a hypothetical story about an ideal customer. Doing so will help the designer and client picture the goals of the graphic design and give a better sense of a “customer profile and motivation, price-points, desired outcome and even project scope information.”
In Chapter 2 of Goodman’s book, she discusses typography. Typography is a fundamental aspect of graphic design because of its visually creative representation of words. In a way, it is a hidden art that can communicate very powerful messages.
- Old Style: Serifed and reflect calligraphic heritage of letterform design
- Transitional: Also serifed, but there is less of a stark change between the thick and thin strokes within the letter compared to Old Style
- Modern: Clean, minimal statements & even strokes (notice the elimination of serifs)
- Digital: More contemporary, cultural look. It is certainly the “wild card” of the bunch.
Typefaces have differing personalities and therefore, that is why it is crucial for designers to understand their project and message and pick the proper typeface to communicate that message.
In Chapter 3, Goodman sheds light on contrast; it is an important aspect of graphic design because it tells the viewer where to look first (and second!) in a design. Furthermore, contrast gives a visual design appeal and attracts interest from the viewer. The use of scale, shape, texture, color, and proposition are some of the ways in which a designer can create contrast. The implementation of contrast allows the viewer to navigate properly through the visual design; this is connected with the design’s hierarchy, which is touched upon in Chapter 4 of Goodman’s book. Contrast through color (Goodman notes the hue, value, and chroma) also helps the viewer choose where to look first, second, and so on.
“A designer needs to take account of the nature and needs of the people who are to use the design.” –Malcolm Grear, Inside Out