The Creative

Go Deep: How to Formulate a Design Concept for Your Content

August 28, 2014, Best Practices, Design, Graphic Design, Scott Falivene, Strategy

Dig Deep for Design Concepts

Lately I’ve been obsessed with the show “Going Deep with David Rees,” a show that uncovers the science and history of ordinary, everyday things. Some of the seemingly simple tasks tackled on the show include “How to Dig a Hole,” “How to Light a Match,” and “How to Throw a Paper Airplane.” On the surface the show is appealing because of David’s dry wit while researching the mundanity of these topics. However, what really inspires me is the detail and meticulousness that he uses to reveal that there is so much more to the things we take for granted. He has a genuine curiosity and strives to find a way to get all the little things right. He finds the complexity of these seemingly simple tasks. As a Graphic Designer this really resonates with me.

 At its core Graphic Design is all about solving puzzles. Designers endeavor to make the complex seem simple and transform content into engaging visuals. By “going deep” into ideas to conceptualize the best way to approach your content you can present your audience with the most informative and compelling message. Being thoughtful and precise about the little things makes the big picture more effective and increases the chances of successfully connecting with an audience.

Steps to Devising a Design Concept

What do I mean by concepting? Before putting pen to paper or clicking a mouse you need to be thoughtful and come up with a strategy. Frequently you will find that the bulk of your time is spent developing a great concept. This makes the design phase run much smoother and saves execution time during the development process.

Here are a few steps to help you get started:

 1. Start with your audience.

Gather demographic and psychographic data on your target audience so you can better identify their needs and anticipate the best way to reach them. Ask yourself what the critical information you’re trying to communicate is and highlight the benefits. Write down a clear statement of purpose based on this information to keep you on track. Keeping this information in mind throughout the process will increase the likelihood of success and move your audience to action.

 2. Brainstorm.

There are no bad ideas at this point, so have fun and be ambitious. Think about what you’re trying to say from as many different angles as possible and embrace the unexpected. You’re trying to differentiate yourself from a sea of information so the more unique your approach the more likely your audience will remember you. An audience that remembers your idea is more likely to be moved by your message.

 3. Sketch.

Once you have your gameplan and the brainstormed framework it’s time to start mocking up ideas. I recommend using a pencil and paper as opposed to your computer. I suggest doing this because it is easy to start thinking about execution when composing at your computer which may distract you from your goal. It allows you to think more freely and let the ideas flow from you without impediment. Don’t worry if you’re not an artist, your sketches need to have utility, not beauty. As you draw your ideas commonalities will begin to emerge. Start putting the pieces together so your concept becomes fully realized by picking what works and what doesn’t. There should be plenty of material on the cutting room floor. Expand on the theme and don’t be afraid to push the boundaries. This will allow you to edit and refine the concept before approaching the design phase. It is also helpful to get an outsider’s point of view once you’re done sketching. Getting unbiased feedback from a colleague often provides keen insight into how successful your concept is.

 4. Design.

Now that you have a concept it’s time to design your best sketches. Find inspiration in typography, color, balance and contrast to maintain focus on your core messaging and keep your audiences’ attention. This step is absolutely critical to have a compelling idea turned into a successful call to action. I recommend calling on professional creative talent for this phase unless you have a firm grasp of core design principles. Nothing undermines a great message like bad design.

So consider “going deep” by thoroughly concepting your ideas. Think critically and creatively about your design concept and you will greatly increase your chances for success. It allows you to take complex ideas and create simple, elegant solutions that will communicate effectively with your target audience. As “Going Deep with David Rees” teaches us: There are a lot of moving pieces in the things we do every day. Pay attention to the details and strive for greatness in each phase of the project. The more thoughtful you are, the more effective your message will be and the more likely your audience will be moved to action.

 Written and Illustrated By: Scott Falivene, PPG Art Director

Introducing Google Slides for iOS

August 27, 2014, Google Slides, Rob Noll

Docs, Sheets, Slides, iOS

Imagine you are in a cab, en route to deliver an important pitch to a major investor. You are feeling confident, knowing that have a professionally designed Google Slides presentation ready to help tell your story. At the last minute, you realize that you need to tweak the wording of your call to action. What are you to do?

Recently, Google released a stand-alone app for iOS devices that allows users to view, edit, and even create Google Slides presentations on the go. This release has the potential to be a great addition to any presenter’s workflow. As Adam discussed in a previous post, one of the major benefits of Google Slides is the ability to collaborate with other uses in real-time. The Google Slides app maintains this feature, which means that you and your team can all help finalize that big pitch together—you from a cab, Andy from the office, and Janet from home. Say you take the subway instead and you don’t have an internet connection. The Google Slides app allows you to work on a presentation offline, save your changes, and apply them to the online version at a later time.

The app is not perfect. At the time this article was written, the ability to add pictures and shapes, and move objects was not available for native Google Slides presentations. Which is strange, considering that these options are available when editing a PowerPoint file in the same app. Knowing Google, these features will be applied at a later update. For now, the Google Slides app for iOS devices is a great first step in expanding your ability to perfect your presentations on the go.

Written by Rob Noll, PPG Designer

Richard Seymour: How Beauty Feels

August 26, 2014, Design

Do you think beauty or do you feel it?  Beauty is in the limbic system of the beholder. It’s the thing we experience before comprehending any other aspect of the object or image in front of us.  Richard Seymour gives a fantastic TEDTalk about how beauty feels and our reaction to the objects we find beautiful.