“You can have the most inspirational or insightful content, but if it’s not presented in a visually interesting way, people will pass right by it,” says Devon Anderson, CONNECTIVE senior designer. “Design gives us the opportunity to show people pieces of the world in a whole new light and make everything a bit more beautiful every day.”
It’s hard to overstate just how important design is when it comes to marketing and communications. Regardless of the platform or deliverable, it’s an essential part of conveying brand identity, messaging and culture.
No one knows that better than our creative team, Devon, Kahla Watkins, and Claudia Oliveri, who do everything from creating fresh brands to designing beautiful — and user-friendly — websites for our clients. We asked them a few questions about how they approach their work and the art of visual communications. Here’s a recap of key insights they shared.
Always keep the client in mind. “A client’s functional needs have to be the priority,” says Claudia, adding that it’s important to get all the information you need before the creative process starts. That means making sure you know everything from the client’s mission and goals to the organization’s target audience and the products or services it offers. This can help crystallize a vision for design and help create something that’s in line with the client’s needs.
“Most of the time people have a concept in mind, but have trouble visualizing it,” Devon says. “A lot of a designer’s time is spent taking a fuzzy idea and crystallizing it into a visual solution.” To help streamline the process of creating that solution, it can also be helpful to check in regularly with clients to show them the progress that’s being made.
Stay up to date on trends. This doesn’t mean you’re stuck following what’s popular right now, but by staying on top of the latest trends, you can get a better idea of what’s resonating you project’s target audiences. It can also be a great way to get inspired and try something you wouldn’t have otherwise. So, which trends are CONNECTIVE’s designers happy to see getting some love?
“I’m excited to see that organic shapes/elements and muted colors are big right now!” Claudia says. “I also think it’s cool to see a lot of companies bringing back serif fonts.” For Devon, it’s the return of detailed illustrations.
Make those motion graphics short and sweet. What’s the trick to creating an eye-catching motion graphic? Make it snappy! “With attention spans getting shorter and shorter, the trick is to get your idea across as quickly as possible,” Devon says. “If you want to make an animation sing, everything should be quick, snappy, smooth and clear.”
Strategize your design approach on social media. When it comes to social media, one size doesn’t necessarily fit all. It’s important to tailor your design to the channel you’re working with and the audience you’re trying to reach. For a more B2B-focused client, LinkedIn would be the ideal platform; if your target group leans more toward millennials and Gen Z, then Instagram should be the focus. Clearly defining your audience and platform can help guide what the creative will ultimately look like.
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It can be about form and function. When it comes to web design, the goal is to marry creativity and user-friendliness. It doesn’t matter how beautiful a site is if a consumer can’t navigate it easily; likewise, even the most engaging content doesn’t stand a chance without a layout that complements it. “The most memorable sites are the ones that can be the most frustrating to navigate,” Kahla says. “In order to keep visitors engaged and deliver the information they need clearly, we are constantly improving the function and flow of a site. Making it beautiful is just the icing on the cake.”
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to design, but following certain strategies can help you create consistent and cohesive visuals that tell a story and engage your audience. Short on inspiration? Here’s where our team is getting ideas:
- Claudia: “I really love anything retro/vintage and illustrative, so some designers that I’ve been inspired by lately are @d.sheridan, @samlarson and @lincolndesignco.”
- Devon: “I’m really inspired by the streets, the people on the ground creating the culture that we consume. One of my favorite design aesthetics is the gritty “streetwear” aesthetic, inspired by graffiti, hip-hop, punk, skate and fashion — the tastemakers and trendsetters of tomorrow.”
- Kahla: “I gather most of my inspiration from dribbble.com for digital projects, awwwards.com for websites, and behance.net for intricate print pieces. These websites curate both student, professional, and aspirational work and allows me to expand my design thinking by showing fresh and new ideas.”