following are tools, solutions, tips, tricks,
secrets, and best practices for graphic designers
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colleagues so they can benefit from them as well.
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Influence of Graphics
Graphic designers don't need to be convinced about
the influence and importance of graphics. We create
graphics everyday to help sell a product or idea
or to communicate a company's identity. We've
studied design and worked for years to master
our skills. We know that people think using pictures
because we do it everyday. However, many of our
clients need to be sold on how visual communication
can improve their business before employing our
services. Have your potential clients (and any
naysayer) consider the following studies if they
doubt the importance of compelling visuals:
- Professional, visually appealing
graphics increase your likelihood of success
by 43% (3M-sponsored study at the University
of Minnesota School of Management).
- Research at the 3M Corporation
concluded that we process visuals 60,000 times
faster than text.
- 83% of what we learn is through
our eyes according to a study by the United
States Armed Forces.
- With visuals, it took 40% less
time to explain complex ideas. (Wharton School
- Visuals improved retention by
38%. (Harvard University study)
- Stanford Persuasive Technology
Lab asked 2,440 participants how they evaluated
the credibility of websites they were shown.
Almost half (46.1%) said that the website's
design look was the number one criterion for
discerning the credibility of the presented
- Behavioral Psychologists agree
that most of our decisions are based on intuitive
judgment and emotions. Herbert A. Simon, Nobel
Prize winning scholar at the Carnegie Mellon
Institute in Pittsburgh, studied corporate decision-making
and found that people often ignored formal decision-making
models because of time constraints, incomplete
information, the inability to calculate consequences,
and other variables. Intuitive judgment was
the process for most decisions.
- According to studies performed
at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania,
the University of Minnesota Management Information
Systems Research Center, and 3M:
- People agree more with a position when
presented with visuals.
- People will pay closer attention and
react more positively when visuals are used.
This does not mean that graphic
communication is better than text. However, the
combination of graphics and words has a communicative
power that neither singularly possesses. J.R.
Levin said it best in A Transfer of Appropriate
Process Perspective of Pictures in Prose: 'Pictures
interact with text to produce levels of comprehension
and memory that can exceed what is produced by
When creating graphics, remember to ask yourself
- What is the most important idea
or concept this graphic should relate?
- Who is your audience? Would
they understand specific terms or prefer an
- How do you want to say it? What
form of graphic (area chart, illustration, timeline,
photograph etc.) will best reach your audience
and help them to understand the idea/concept?
Rules for Creating Graphics
- All graphics should play a specific
role and have a reason for being chosen and
- Stay consistent.
- Show or say it correctly. Don't
try to be original.
- Keep it clean and simple. Too
much visual clutter can be overwhelming and
lose the primary objective of your message.
- Label elements directly to avoid
confusion. This rule is especially true if you
are introducing new image and ideas.
- Use recognizable imagery. Seeing
a familiar face evokes trustworthiness in your
audience. This is one reason celebrities are
used in advertisements.
- Focus on your audience. Show
your audience in your graphics. Allow your audience
to see themselves learning, applying, and benefiting
from your product/service.
a Template and Database of Graphics
Consistency throughout your communication materials
is the main reason to create a template for your
company (and main clients), build an identity
guide, and maintain a database of frequently used
graphics. You don't want your client wondering
why different graphics are used to explain the
same concept or the wrong logo is placed in an
ad if the project is handed over to another designer
who can't find the correct pieces on the server.
To maintain a database of frequently
used graphics, consider the following:
- On your server create a folder
specifically for graphics (primarily photographs,
illustrations, charts, and logos). Ideally,
you should have one folder for every client
and another for your design firm. Of, if you
work for an in-house design department, a folder
containing company and division logos and graphics.
- Create subfolders for each graphic
type (i.e., Stock Photos of Business Professionals,
Stock Photos of Teenagers, Illustrations from
Brochures, Floorplans, Charts, Logos). You can
even purchase software, which serves as an archive
for all your photos and graphics.
- Inform everyone in your organization
of the availability of these images and encourage
them to add to the folders as new visuals are
created for clients/your company.
- Create a standards guide to
inform your associates when, where, and how
they can use these graphics. Include the following:
- Photo or illustration
- Color palette
- Font choices
- Type of communications in which to use
the graphics (e.g., newspapers, magazines,
- Logo guides for size, colors, and style
- Stationery guides (e.g., margins, text
styles, logo placement, and fonts)
To create a template for graphics
in any software package, use the following guide
as a starting point and then build upon it as
necessary. Open a blank document and then populate
it with the following:
- Primary color
- Secondary color
- Tertiary color
- Color palette of boxes tinted with your
- Font and text styles
- Font style (may include a couple of font
- Preferred minimum font size (For graphics,
use at least 12 pt. for best visibility
if projected on a screen in a presentation)
- Font color
- Bullet styles
- Labeling styles
- Caption styles
- Paragraph styles (In a layout package,
make sure to label the paragraph styles
so anyone can understand what they mean:
Main Heading, 1st Level Heading, Body Text,
- Box styles (different boxes
for org charts, flow charts, benefits boxes,
- Arrow styles
- Line style (width and color)
- Logos for your company/clients
- Samples of graphic icons/photos
used in other graphics (e.g., blue cylinder
equals main database)
- Samples of graphic styles (area
charts, bar charts, etc. used in previous design
If you maintain one document for
each client from which anyone in your organization
can pull graphics and styles, it will save time
and money when designing new graphics and marketing
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