Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Good Design Comes From Good Concepts

Everyone who hires a designer does so because they have a need for some visual marketing or brand promotion effort. However, most of them want the designer to skip the concept stage, and develop cutting edge graphic and motion design. The problem with this is that great design comes from great concepts. You might be able to produce something cool or interesting, but it doesn't communicate, isn't clever, nor innovative. It just ends up being clichéd, or hackneyed eye-candy.

There isn't much designers can do with clients who just want fast and cheap design solutions. But every designer and client needs to know how to create great concepts. So how do you come up with great concepts?

Here is an approach that can prove very useful.
  1. Start with the identities. Flesh this out first.
    • Who is the client or product? What are the main selling points?
    • Who is the client's or product's audience? Do they need convincing? What keeps them up at night? How does the client or product meet those concerns?
  2. What are you trying to communicate? Are you informing, persuading, or advising? How do you want the audience to respond?
  3. After you answer those questions, you need to develop an approach that will give you the best conceptual options.
    • Develop textual concepts. Determine, with words, what you want to say, how you want to say it, your style (friendly, austere, business jargon, etc.), and your approach.
    • Develop visual concepts. Taking what you discover in your textual approach, create visual mood boards or visual mockups.
The concepts that can develop from this approach will be the foundation for all your design and copywriting decisions. Do this well, and you can produce good concepts that translate into great design.

If this seems like it will take some time, it just might. But, you will gain so much more in time and money if the final design is effective.

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