Monthly Archives: August 2012

Show me

Show me one thing. Just one. Flyer? What’s the first thing you want to say? Meeting. New software program. Changes in policy. Pick one thing. Make that one thing the first thing you see. Now who you are and what you are, are indeed important. I’m a big believer in logos and company identity. You have to decide, can who you are come after? If it is an in-house piece for sure it can. And you still need to include it. Yes, use your branding, never miss an opportunity to reinforce your branding. But it doesn’t have to be the lead story. For example, your company is sponsoring an event. The event isn’t going to help your business, it isn’t going create awareness in your field. You’re just nice people doing something nice. So sure, make the event or whatever it is foremost. It’s okay. Show me one thing first. Show me something else second. Company name, branding, part II of part I. See the example below.

Design Maxims Part II

Measure with your eyes. Say you’re centering type but there is an element near it, a signature perhaps. You know it perfectly centered and yet-for some reason it doesn’t look right. You know it doesn’t look right because you’ve leaned back and squinted your eyes. This is an instance when you nudge the type until it “looks” right. It may be a picture or something else not just type. No Matter what it is, it may need to be measured with your eyes.

Think about movement and flow. Can you use lines, elements to create an easier more flowing experience for your audience? What can you add to help them navigate your piece? I used a standard format. Image left corner top. It rarely if ever, changes. The image hardly ever relates to the text, it’s just a picture. That’s okay. You’ve come to expect that, if there is an element I want you to notice I put it into the body of the post. What sorts of things can help flow? Pull quotes as page or section starters, icons for each section, colored lines, shaded boxes … What ever you can think of .

Get the lead out

What is leading and why do you care. Leading is the space between lines of type. It’s called leading because back in the old timey days when thing were printed with ink on paper people used printing presses. Printers used slugs of lead to create space between each line of type thus, leading. We still call it leading and if I had my way typeface would not be called font. Font actually refers to the size of type not to what typeface it is. But never mind. I’m sure by now you realize why leading is important. Designers use leading to cheat space or to make copy more readable. Below I made some samples of type that have different leading and as you can see the typeface used makes a difference in how the type looks. Often times headline or titles have tighter leading. Since there is typically less text in a headline or title there is more freedom to make it visually pleasing.

Leading can even be controlled somewhat in Word. Look for it in the Formatting Palette under Alignment and Spacing. The dos and don’ts are pretty simple:

Do increase leading for readability

Do increase leading in a pull quote—it will help emphasize the text

Do increase leading in things to be read aloud—often used for speeches or readings when some one may be looking away from the copy and back

Don’t decrease leading in body copy

Do decrease leading for headlines for a more compact attractive line—works best for san-serif type

Don’t decrease leading in serif type so much that the ligatures touch

Rules! There are no stinkin’ rules

Okay, maybe a couple and we shall explore some here. It is coming up on back to school time and school means discipline and discipline means rules. You know, I was years and years out of college before I stopped thinking of September as the beginning of the year. For me it’s early June. Never mind, I have my reasons. Rules. Back to the rules, a fine rule to have is concept. As in, have a concept. That seems obvious but look around you, clearly it is not obvious. What do I mean by, have a concept? I mean have a firm grasp of your message, how you want it to be perceived. Let’s use an example, an un-sexy example. For whatever reason, my favorite un-sexy business is payroll companies. While I like getting paid, I just don’t find the details at all interesting. For those of you that find payroll and its endless details enthralling, bless you. All right, my payroll company is highly successful. I said it was un-sexy not un-lucrative. I need to put out oh say, an annual report. Things are great at my payroll company. I want to paint a rosy picture. I might even use this piece as a recruitment tool for talent or lure for capital. So I want to look smart, productive and worthwhile. How do I do that? Let’s start with what you don’t do. You don’t use stock photos of people. Use photos of your people. Good photos of your people doing work things, at a meeting, colleagues conferring, not making copies, not hanging around the coffee machine, not talking on the phone. Use really good quality photos; hire some one if you have to. It will be worth it. Don’t use cartoons or cartoon-y drawings. You can use drawings, if fact it could look great with drawings as a unifying concept and theme. Be sure they are strong well rendered drawings. Don’t use novelty typefaces, don’t be cute, be solid, be dependable, be some place you’d deal with or some place you’d want to work. Have an idea, think in metaphors; are you a ship who’s weathering the economic storm? Are you the wise oak that’s seen it all and perseveres? Or perhaps you are quick and modern like a computer circuit board or microchip. Develop a concept.