The Many Hats of the 2015 Designer

by | Mar 16, 2015 | Uncategorized

Traditional design: It’s really quite simple.

There was a time when creativity was just simply that: creativity. You brainstormed a multitude of ideas, typically shaved it down to three of the best, honed in on one option and bingo, the great idea prevailed.

Once approved, you began the process of spreading it across all known media (i.e., ads, video, collateral, etc.). From there your target audience would understand and consume your message, make their buying decision based on the magical concept and the cycle of life was complete. Jump forward to now: the communications landscape has become increasingly complex. The very nature of the way people consume and process messages has become much faster and somewhat fragmented. This has created a new breed of designer who must become more and more open to change.

Design is the method of putting form and content together. Design, just as art, has multiple definitions; there is no single definition. Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated.

— Paul Rand

Brand-building design: By the book.

Creativity has evolved into a much more sophisticated and process-driven endeavor. Designers are now involved in major corporate initiatives meant not only to sell products and services but also to transform a company’s image. A typical corporate brand project begins with a research assignment that quickly moves into a strategy phase and ends with the creative communications output. All of these efforts typically culminate in a Brand Style Guide, used to define the rules for the brand. We have all witnessed what happens when multiple people or agencies work on one brand; it can quickly become a communications mess. These days it is crucial to carry forward and interpret the same vision or strategy, especially for companies trying to create the next great brand.

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Design is the bridge that brings the business strategy to life. It can build intangible brand value for a business, so the business is worth more. We all know that the intangible brand value of Coke far outweighs the value of its tangible assets.

— Geoff Suvalko

Interactive design: Just make it work.

Wikipedia:
Responsive Web design (RWD) is an approach to Web design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience – easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning and scrolling – across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones).

Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? Here we are with even more things to consider prior to putting pen to paper, or mouse to pixel I should say. Traditionally we designed for the desktop monitor, had a handful of resolutions and off we went. Now, there is a wide variety of mobile devices to take into account. The value of any one communications piece seems to have declined; now it’s more about engaging across multiple pieces and channels. And you will need to ensure that your content looks great on all of them. Consumers have become very demanding with what they want, how they want it and when.  The current-day designer must make sure the experience shines at all points of contact.

The Web’s moved beyond the desktop, and it’s not looking back. The number of devices we’re designing for is growing just as quickly as mobile traffic.

— Ethan Marcotte

Communication design: Just the visuals, please.

In the past, research/strategy, copy and visual creativity used to be separate activities that were brought together later. Today, they are merging much earlier. The one thing I really love is the importance of communication thrown on creativity/design’s back. We have all heard the term that a picture is worth a thousand words. In so many cases this is spot on. When you look at a sea of copy written to quickly explain a very complex situation or program, it becomes apparent that the translation can easily get lost. Many marketers still agonize over every word, not realizing that their audiences may or may not read/hear that word/phrase. In comes the graphic device: a simply designed graphic storyteller. This visual icon is designed to quickly sum it up for us with a minimal amount of language. It easily brings it together with visual iconography, process arrows, shapes and aesthetic beauty.

We are becoming a visually mediated society. For many, understanding of the world is being accomplished, not through words, but by reading images.

— Paul Martin Lester

The state of design: I want “Applesque.”

Here we are in 2015. I’m looking back at creativity and the state of design with great pride. The importance of outstanding design in everything we experience is being showered on us. We love products that just work easily; check out the local Apple Store. We love to see beautiful Web pages that are simple to navigate and engaging. The World Wide Web has never looked better. We love the thrilling interaction and connection with our automobiles; the coupling of style and high tech feels seamless. As a consumer, it truly feels like marketers and manufacturers are on board with the general public. Design has been placed squarely in the front row of both marketing and product design. And from this humble designer’s perspective, that is exactly where it belongs.

Simplicity is not the absence of clutter, that’s a consequence of simplicity. Simplicity is somehow essentially describing the purpose and place of an object and product. The absence of clutter is just a clutter-free product.
That’s not simple.

— Jonathan Ive

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Christopher Nagle
Chris has more than 20 years of design and art direction experience with work that spans multiple industries and areas of application. His drive to uncover what sparks the motivations of his target audiences is what has led to a career of not only award-winning work, but work that moves the needle for his clients. Chris’ extensive background working with researchers and strategists has also given him a strong understanding of how to ensure that visual communications are true to the brand while reaching the right audience in the intended manner.

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