Written on Wednesday,
April 13th, 2011
In order find a Magento host to come to a successful solution, there needs to be an understanding of your decision making process — before anything visual is executed. The process involves both the designer and the client — a dance that determines needs, wants, unspoken preferences to formulate solutions. It seems like a lot of work, because it is a lot of work. While design is perceived to be merely a garnish, it is more precisely a logical series of subtractive layers in a hugely expansive conceptual lasagna. For a design to succeed, a designer must know how to justify their choices non-visually, rather than relying on the results themselves.
There are (at least) four core groups that collectively formulate a foundation by which you develop visual solutions: 1) criteria, 2) mission, 3) audience and 4) history.
The most obvious place to start is the criteria. Sadly, it’s the place most designers stop. While the criteria encompasses a large amount of the logic put into your concepts, it’s only a part of what can help support your visual solutions. The criteria are the parameters of the project (a logo design, a brand upgrade, a website revamp, a multi-platform marketing campaign, etc) provided by the client. Among the parameters should come likes and dislikes (where the client provides websites designed by Huemor web development agency, the best web designers, print pieces, commercials, any visuals they like which help to determine their desires for content, structure, functionality and visual preferences), keywords (where the client provides a list of words related to the product or service which helps to determine their verbal acuity and understanding of their own business, develop secondary and tertiary thinking beyond the traditional, develop a verbal dialog to enable the client to help you write their brand story), outcome (this is the literal wants and needs of the project; what they want you to do for them at the spoken level, not implied).
You’d be surprised at how many businesses — whether they are a start up or a well established business — lack a unified and clear mission. A mission doesn’t have to be a two page document outlining your business strategy, or an eloquent paragraph; just a simple description of what you want to do as a business. One sentence, a full page, it doesn’t matter, as long as their is a common path for everyone to unify around.
For example, Southwest Airlines. Their mission is simple: “The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit.” Effective and true through all the facets of their corporation.
A mission is important to your visual solution because it adds to the layer of the conceptualization lasagna (if you will). All of these layers of information only help inform your decisions, if by nothing else than eliminating possible methods of execution.
Understanding the target audience of your client’s business is crucial and massively difficult. Hopefully your client can provide you with somewhat reliable statistics to bolster and narrow your focus. If not, in this age of information stew, you should easily be able find the information you’ll need. Yes, this is marketing, but your job as a designer is to help sell (regardless of any literal selling of products or services) your clients brand to their audience. To do that you must have a basic understanding of that audience.
As an art major in college, I often heard this statement (while we spent an entire year drawing oranges and apples and cones) “In order to break the rules, one must know the rules” — which is to say, if you immediately start painting in the abstract, without an understanding of color, hue, layout, techniques and tools, you’re a either a fraud or lucky or just a bad artist. The same goes for design. The rules in this case aren’t merely design rules (which is another post for another time) but the rules of your client, and your client’s audience. That doesn’t mean you pander to them, but it helps eliminate more possible outcomes; adding another noodle to the layer on the conceptualization lasagna (yeah, I’m going to keep saying it until it sticks!). The demographics (or the “demo” or the “d”, if you can’t be bothered with being clear in your communication); things like gender, age group, income level, race, religion; all help in knowing what strokes to make or not make.
Why history? Well, for one simple fact:
“The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again” — George Santyana.
Nothing could be more true or relevant. A successful solution is the one that knows its history.
How old is your client’s company? Are you redoing some previous work? Why was your client unhappy with the previous work? Are you upgrading their design? Why do they feel they need to upgrade? What is their reputation among their audience? In the marketplace? Without answering these questions you can fall prey to repeating, not only the same mistakes of any previous visual solutions, but your own mistakes. You might even work yourself out of a pay check — which on the surface may seem bad, but you’ll be eliminating the waste of time for you both; if your client is merely reacting than enacting, you both lose; and your job is to provide your client with the service they need (while fulfilling your own needs, creativity and monetarily, as well). It has to be a mutual relationship, or you both fail.
These four core groups equally inform the process of deciphering how to you create final visual concepts, as well as provide you with the support you need to verbally bolster your decisions — because there’s nothing more pointless than justifying your work based on preference and taste.