A designer’s guide to creative

Article
Published on 13 September 2019

You don’t need to be a designer to understand visuals. Embedded in service and product design, creativity is an important value that stretches across all levels of an association, not just the design department.

Considering the following aspects of digital design builds the foundation for a deeper understanding of its importance.

Imagery

An image can speak a thousand words. Without a plan, though, you run the risk of your visuals confusing and alienating your audience. Take the time to look at what you already have - sort through your company's visual assets and assess which are relevant and usable.

You should also:

Pick a concept first

Too-literal representations of your copy make for a stagnant design that lacks originality. Use a conceptual approach to come up with more original imagery.

Prioritise quality

High-resolution imagery that displays well across all devices is the best way to ensure a pleasant and visually enticing user experience. Avoid photography with busy backgrounds, or those with little space to add copy - you want to increase your options, not complicate the process.

Bear in mind that users tend to resonate more with images of humans rather than objects, but pick carefully - curate your selections to make sure you stay on-brand.

Tag like there's no tomorrow

It's a rookie mistake - you've audited your image database and found some gems, but lack of organisation has rendered you incapable of finding that one perfect photo ever again. Tag your photos logically as you add them to your repository, and rid yourself of this frustration forever.

Typography

Typography goes beyond just choosing a font - it's a vital step in your mission to communicate effectively with your readers. Experts like Oliver Reichenstein even argue that ‘Web Design is 95% Typography.'

Plus, considering 95% of all online content is communicated via written language, we thought it was hugely important to divulge a few tips and tricks to getting your typography right on the mark.

Less is more

One or two fonts with 8-10 styles each is a simple, effective way to communicate your message without becoming repetitive, or conversely alienating readers with a confusing mess of mismatched typographic elements.

Readability is key

Arial is the go-to choice for legibility, but unfortunately not every font is as easy on the eye. However, you can use elements from this typographic stalwart to inform your font choices - look for a font that is both on-brand, as well as simple. Serifs are notoriously difficult to read, especially on digital screens, so if you must use one, limit its use to headings or the logo.

F is for 'first'

Research has shown that readers tend to consume written content in an F-shaped pattern. Based on this, we know the best way to present copy is with stand-out headings, short and punchy paragraphs, and distinctions between different content sections will be the most effective.

Accessibility

At first glance, most modern sites offer a brilliant user experience. But what if you can't give it a first glance, and you're using a screen reader? What if you struggle to distinguish certain colours from each other?

This is where accessibility comes into play. Accessible design ensures that anyone can use your website, regardless of how they access it. Here's how to master it:

Put users first

Not everyone is going to access your website with a mouse and a screen. Some will rely on their computer reading contrast ratios, markups, and scalable content and translating it into something accessible.

You need to ensure people can navigate through your site using only a keyboard, and your interfaces should be designed logically - buttons need to look like buttons, for example.

Keep it simple

Don't overload your site's interfaces with fancy features or complexities, however great you think it looks. You'll lose your users' attention quickly and bounce rates will increase - something nobody wants. Make it easy for people to understand what you're telling them by identifying your core message and displaying it intuitively.

Render properly

The variety of devices and browsers available right now is at an all-time high. You don't want to disillusion an entire user base by neglecting to render your site for their operating system, browser, or device. Assistive technologies are also advancing at a rapid pace, so you should consider their integration when rendering your site.

Creativity is for everyone

There is a lot that everyone can contribute to creative challenges in digital - designer or not. Don’t just take the design of your website as a given - question it. As a first step, why not assess your website’s performance against the prompts we have given above.

For more insights and practical tips we recommend having a look at Pixl8’s previous article on how to successfully implement imagery, photography and accessibility.

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Author

Luke Holderness
Luke Holderness

Creative Director, Pixl8 Group
www.pixl8.co.uk/