Compelling visuals grab attention and help spread your message.
So, how much thought do you put into your designs?
With visual content dominating the web, it has never been more important to pursue thoughtful graphic design. It is already readily accepted that strong visuals grab attention – they make us laugh, cry, and feel every emotion in between. Images make content more shareable on major social media platforms, like Instagram and Facebook. And highly produced videos (with sharp content and sharp production quality) spell success on TikTok and YouTube.
Whether promoting a giveaway, celebrating a milestone, or encouraging user interactions, strong shareable visual content can generate new followers and sales. Naturally, this means you and your competitors should be and likely are investing in well-designed marketing materials. Good graphic design influences how audiences perceive your brand and how well your messages are remembered.
But thoughtful graphic design is about more than your brand making a buck. It’s about communicating with your circles in effective and open ways. Because, in making a first impression through your visuals, you are not simply asking for a follow or a purchase. You are beginning a conversation and relationship. You are starting a journey.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, it is time to consider what words your business or organization hopes to say. This is the time to convey you understand your audience, their needs and interests, and likes and dislikes. And it all starts with visuals.
Making a Good First Impression
Like it or not, we live in a world of snap judgements. Swipe left, or right? Thumbs up or thumbs down? Perhaps you are able to take the needed time for reflection on major choices. Meanwhile, your daily routines are still filled with quick decisions.
Consider this: Viewers determine their opinion of a website in 50 milliseconds. So, if your site doesn’t load quickly, chances are they won’t stick around. The same goes for user feeling overwhelmed by cluttered design or disinterested in your message right away. Once again, first impressions are everything.
Thankfully, it is easy to add visuals to your social media and marketing content these days, no matter your budget. Infographics and even animated slides can be made through free programs. Even without a big team of experienced graphic designers, your organization can maximize its social content. However, if you are working alone or with a tight circle, remember to ask others for opinions. This will help you not only consider all viewpoints, but help you see what you otherwise might miss (and, ultimately, avoid embarrassing your brand or offending audiences). Listening to others is especially important in marketing and communications—and that includes graphic design. Your audience may already be telling you what they like and don’t like. You won’t know about it if you aren’t listening.
Thoughtful graphic design not only pulls people in, but makes them feel included. This is not simply about grabbing someone’s eye, but then keeping their attention to ensure the conversation continues. Something could be technically beautiful to your eyes, but still not work for the intended audience. Why? Perhaps because their viewpoint or needs were not fully considered.
Applying different lenses to your graphic design and storytelling process ensure your concepts can be as inclusive as possible. In doing so, you approach each job with thoughtful graphic design ideas. Take accessibility needs, for example, as covered in Smash Magazine for web developers and web designers: “Accessibility lenses are a filter that we can use to understand how different aspects of the design affect the needs of the users.” Thoughtful graphic design considers being inclusive of the needs of your users. Will all users have the same experience with your design? Likely, no. But there are actions you can take to ensure that, whatever the experience, it is a good one.
This starts with discussion about the project. Who will be in the audience? What backgrounds, experiences, and expectations do they bring? Then, consider how answers to those questions could impact the design and user experience.
Building Trust and Keeping Trust
The right branding and marketing materials tell your audience everything they need to know. Think of your favorite companies and products. When you see their logo, you get instant recognition. You also get a feeling. Here is a product you know is reliable. It’s like seeing an old, trustworthy friend.
Thoughtful graphic design helps build that trust.
Thanks to social media, it is easier to pull back the curtain and invite people in. As you continue the conversation with your audiences through your marketing visuals, remember it is a relationship. With each new design project that comes in, stay thoughtful and inclusive. Even if you have gained recognition through your logo and marketing, it is part of an ongoing dialogue. Once you have built trust within your audience, you must also work to keep that trust.
Putting Your Audience First
It’s true that visuals help tell your story. But in telling your story, you don’t want to forget about your audience. As you well know, graphic design is a vehicle for your brand. It announces who you are and what you stand for—and the choice of font, colors, and lines convey certain details. Are you fun and outgoing? Or serious and businesslike? Polka dots and lowercase letters suggest entertainment and ease, while bold fonts and strong lines suggest tradition and strength.
So, once you’ve announced who you are, it is time to demonstrate you know your audience as well. If good graphic design gets your noticed, thoughtful graphic design makes audiences stick around. An effective website, easy user experience, and engaging social media makes being associated with your brand a pleasure and pride point. And an inclusive and thoughtful design is created through an inclusive and thoughtful process. Does your video include subtitles? Could colors be difficult to see or carry a certain meaning? Can people see themselves in your promotions, or do they feel excluded or ignored?
A willingness to unpack and look at a project from different angles can add time to a project, but can also be rewarding. That’s because, like many relationships, you get what you give. And if you have a willingness to invest in your audience, they will stick around and make your network even stronger.