Category Archives: Design Concept/Ideas

elements-31I began reading “The Elements of Typographic Style” today. I read something profound, and interesting to a me as both a musician and designer.

Typography is to literature as musical performance is to composition: an essential act of interpretation, full of endless opportunities for insight or obtuseness.”

I watched the second episode of the new series of HGTV’s Design Star. I like watching these sort of shows that redesign rooms in your house, because it’s fun to see the overlap that interior design has with graphic design.

I caught the last few minutes of the season premiere and contestant Michael Stribling said something cool. He was asked what his design style was. He said, “Whatever my client wants” He got blank stares from the judges.

But isn’t that what it’s all about?

Meeting the client’s needs while at the same time creating something you are proud to put in your portfolio. That’s the number one difficulty when working with clients: giving the client what they want while making great design (because we all know that clients will go for bad design, if you let them).

One of my new clients needed a logo, banner (6ft x 4ft)) and website. I’ve got a prelim. website done. This website led to another website project that I’ve not even started on. It’s for another drug prevention organization.

Now if I could only balance this work with my internship.

 

I had my senior Visual Communication show on Monday, and it would seem like I have nothing to do. Though, I’ve been working on some freelance work in the past two days. I got some logo sketches done for Putnam County Partners in Prevention and a theme/logo for the MH Film Festival. Check ’em out.

This coalition is a drug abuse prevention program that just started. I will be designing a website, brochure and large banner for them. It all starts with the logo.

Meadow Heights – or maybe just Michael 🙂 had a very focused idea of what they wanted. It makes it easy to design when they have a style and approach in mind. I did go out of my comfort zone to do this. I usually don’t do such illustrative work. Mini-site for this coming soon.

I’ve got website projects in all stages of production. A recent website project for Truman Media Network (TMN) is being programmed right now http://transfer20.truman.edu. My goal for TMN was to make it very accessable to visitors. I took many cues from CNNs website.  Also this was a test in “making a website with an existing logo that isn’t very well designed” The best thing to do is to use much whitespace around the logo and let it stand for itself, and don’t try to hide it with texture background or large graphics near it.

My two websites for my portfolio are now done. The two clients I decided on were a church in st. louis and a blues guitarist The audience for each is drastically different, and I hope the design depicts this. There’s also a mini-site for the church for their three week message series titled “Questions” With the blues guitarist I tried making it distinctly different from another guitarist website I made.

I’ve got another freelance client that wants a website, logo, brochure, banner for their drug prevention coalition, Putnam County Partners in Prevention. This will have to wait until after finals week in order to start brainstorming.

Meadow Heights also needs a website redesign, which I need to get done with… Why do I never have enough time for everything? haha

Today I presented in Advertising about a proposed “Students for McCain” website that Anshu (group partner) and I felt was needed for McCain. The website is here. I suggest watching the videos, especially the one about everything that is younger than McCain, such as the golden gate bridge, velcro, mcdonalds… and on and on. Get this, Dick Cheney is even younger than McCain.

Another website/poster campaign that just went live is for “Information Security Awareness” This has been a semester long project to create posters and the website.

In about a week I will be moved in near Des Moines, preparing for my first day of work at August Home!!! SO EXCITED.

  1. Websites should look pretty and that’s all that matters.
    They should be well designed, but from a usability standpoint. It’s not a magazine ad, where the audience just looks at and reads it. Think about how the user will navigate through the site, their Internet speed, browser support, search engine optimization.
  2. I don’t know HTML so I’ll just use Flash to build my website.
    If it was 1999, maybe this would fly, but not today. Building websites purely in Flash is a misuse of Flash and an alienation of web useres. Flash is a motion graphics program, not a website editing program. Flash is meant to enhance  well programmed and designed websites. You will alienate visitors because they won’t find your website in the search engines. What about your grandma? She might not have the newest browser or Flash player which will allow her to view your website.
  3. I’ll welcome my visitors to my website with a “click here to enter” page. (see the screenshot)
    This is usually only done with Flash websites, but this is the silliest thing someone can do. By typing your web address in, it is a sign that they already wanted to “enter” your website. Keep the front door open and let them land right there in your living room, aka: your full homepage. Even if this page is only here so users know they need flash player to view the website, they most likely not going to take extra time to get the flash player just to view your website, unless it’s your very devoted mom.
  4. I’m using tables to lay out my website, because I just don’t get this new fandangled CSS thing.
    The Internt began as a way to present and transfer content in purely text format, with no layout needed or required. Tables were added shortly after so that tables of data could be displayed. Then someone decided that they could use a table to design their whole website. They even began nesting tables inside one another to create their complex web designs. Tables are to be used for “tables” of data, and CSS should be used for the layout and styling of a website . Cascading Style Sheets separate the design from the content. This means that when you want to redesign your website in a year, it will only take a few minutes. For example, I recently changed color schemes on my approx. 50 page portfolio website and it took about 10 minutes. If I was using tables, I would have had to open each of my 50 pages and change colors manually. I admit, in high school I learned to use tables, and it took 6 years to make the switch, and what a change it has been.
  5. Image maps are the best thing ever! I can create a website in seconds!
    What about visitors to your website who are disabled and use a screen reader? When they visit a well programmed website, the contents of the website is read to them out loud by special software. If your website is primarily image-based or even Flash, then all the disabled visitor will hear is silence. You can also alienate your visitors with dial-up Internet, because they will wait many times longer for your website to load. I will admit I’ve used image maps. Just check out http://www.sargent-construction.com The whole circle motif is an image.
  6. I just make my paragraphs of text images so that the user will see exactly what I want them to, in the correct font, size, and color.
    It is true that the user might see a different font or size if you use real text, but that’s part of the beauty of the web. The user can decide, via their choice of screen resolution, font size, etc how they view your website. By making your text an image, you take that right away from the user, while also blocking that content from search engines and slowing the load time of dial-up users.

These ideas are ones I’ve spent eight years learning. I’ve made all these mistakes at one time or another, either for my convenience or because I truly had no idea what I was doing. The biggest idea above that can actually be a good thing to do would be ‘all flash’ website. For product promotions and mini-sites, it is definitely appropriate to use primarily flash, because you want to sell the product with a “flashy” design… Pun intended But if you are creating a corporate website, or even a band website, think about search engine optimization, usability, functionality etc.

The era of ‘pretty websites’ has passed. People now demand more usability, interactivity and functionality. If you can create a well designed website that is usable, functional and interactive, then you’ve figured something out.

 

As journalists we believe the guiding principle of our profession is accuracy; therefore, we believe it is wrong to alter the content of a photograph in any way that deceives the public.

As photojournalists, we have the responsibility to document society and to preserve its images as a matter of historical record. It is clear that the emerging electronic technologies provide new challenges to the integrity of photographic images … in light of this, we the National Press Photographers Association, reaffirm the basis of our ethics: Accurate representation is the benchmark of our profession. We believe photojournalistic guidelines for fair and accurate reporting should be the criteria for judging what may be done electronically to a photograph. Altering the editorial content … is a breach of the ethical standards recognized by the NPPA.

This is the center of the debate. I agree, designers, photographers and journalists shouldn’t add or take things away from a photo that will change the “integrity” of the photo. If you take out a person or a building or even add a person or building, that shouldn’t be done if the photo is being published in a newspaper or magazine. But what if you have a photo of a person with the background cutout and the photographer decided to take a photo with the half of one of the shoes cropped off. Does the designer whip out the graphics tablet and open up Illustrator and paint in the tip of the shoe, to complete the photo? I would say, yes, you should, especially if you are cutting out the background and there would be an awkward cropped foot floating in the middle of the page.

This exact thing happened this week in the Index (see this pdf). They published a photo that had the background cutout of a person’s foot but it was cropped off. It looked horrible and very incomplete. As a designer I saw laziness on behalf of the photographer and designer. But it wasn’t laziness, it simply was due to their ‘ethical’ restrictions. So, after looking at the PDF I realize they DID manipulate the photo, they placed a cutout photo on top of the rectangular photo with big fatty white drop shadow. Don’t believe me, check out this photo. They cutout this photo and placed it on another photo, to look like the person was in a different photo. Now if this isn’t changing the integrity of a photo, I don’t know what is. Maybe it’s unethical to also to publish recipes that are correct (see the Instructions section of the currey rice recipe where they call for chocolate chips and walnuts).

If it’s unethical to enhance photos without changing the meaning or integrity of the photo, then I’ll never work for a newspaper. I agree that we shouldn’t add or delete major aspects of a photo, but simply finishing the job of the lazy photographer I think is justified.

The other thing is that the photos a designer chooses should be ones he can successfully implement into his design. If we, as designers aren’t allowed to make photos look great through color correcting, levels, cropping and slight enhancements, then we shouldn’t use a photo. Maybe we’ll make the writer mad by using only typography or simply find another job, one that allows for creativity.

I heard someone in our discussion say that newspapers shouldn’t look pretty, they should just convey information.

Yeah. Right.

If the paper didn’t look pretty, no one would pick it up besides the newspaper staff who wrote it. Designers also make things functional and usable, not just pretty.  Think about posters, you don’t even look at the ugly ones, you are drawn to the readable, functional, beautiful ones.

My final thoughts: I believe editing photos in order to create the best image for the specific layout or story is what we should do, not follow an ambiguous rules, that don’t keep design in mind. Why can’t the newspaper designers have a code of ethics that begins with “As designers, we believe that….” ?

Check back with me in 5 years, I guarantee I won’t be working for a newspaper.

I’m new to designing ads for newspapers, but not new to designing and laying out newspaper pages. I worked a semester at the Truman Index. I stared at very full newspaper pages with columns and columns of text all the time while trying to fit even more stuff in there. It’s all about how much crap (stories?) you can fit on one page.

So, why not break that rule when making newspaper ads?

  • Newspapers seem to disregard the idea of negative space. So I realized that to make a great ad is to use a lot of negative space.
  • Also, using very large text, larger than the largest headline on the page works well.
  • Scope out the newspaper before designing an ad for it. See how they layout the page, and do the opposite: use negative space, use text on an angle. Why text on an angle? Because no other text on the page will be angled and the eye will be drawn to your ad.
  • If you are lucky enough to have an ad on a page with color, and you know there will already be a lot of color on the page, do this: Make yours black and white… Why? Because there is a lack of color the eye will stop on your ad for “rest”.

Check out Great Newspaper Ads pt. 2 from August 12, 2008

Back to the Future

For me, the design work I’ve done in the past sometimes inspires or informs me about where I should be going with my design in the future. I sometimes look at old artwork or design of mine and wonder how I ever did it because I don’t feel I’m currently creating that great of work.

This is a brochure I did about a design period that sometimes inspires me or gives me ideas for future design. I created this in Viscom I, over a year ago.

The cover art was done by me with inspiration from
the period and the peice in my timeline on the upper left
with the morphing shapes in it (seen below)


inspiration for my brochure. Designed by Armin Hofmann.

logo design. gecko style .
I finally got to putting the “limber” gecko into my existing gecko mathematics logo. I wanted to appeal to kids by making it look like it’s crawling around… a sense of movement in a still image.


I started out by rastorizing the ‘o’ in gecko
and cutting parts of it out to get the feel of the
gecko crawling through it.


I then did something totally different,

because it’s good try different things.
I used the gecko as an icon. I don’t like this one,
but I can’t say I didn’t try it.


My favorite. Only because the logo will be on the left
of the website so the gecko is crawling into
the webpage, rather than off the page.