As graphic designers, it’s our job to not only provide great looking designs but to find the right balance between functional design and an aesthetically pleasing design that breaks through the clutter.
Let’s say there’s an event coming up for a music festival and a poster needs to be designed to promote it. Now, anyone can come up with a few eye-catching designs right off the bat. But this poster isn’t just about looking nice; it must include specific information so that the poster can perform its function. This is achieved by including details like the date and time of the event, the location of where it will be held, the company who is sponsoring the event, and all pertinent information that will be required for the event to be a success.
Functionality in design is achieved by taking the pertinent information and making it easy for the viewer to understand and access. One of the best ways to create a functional design is by developing something that is simple and concise but has a visual sophistication about it.
It’s very easy to start off with one aspect of an idea and focus on it so long that it just gets carried away. For example, if there’s a graphical element or texture that you think looks cool, so you start to incorporate it into the entire design. You place it in the background and then maybe the header and after a while, the design can start to become very visually complex. However, if the creative part of the design starts to get too complicated, it can pull focus away from the important information.
Let’s face it, you could simply put all the details of the event in the same font style on a white background and that poster would perform its function. But since there isn’t anything interesting or eye-catching, the overload of information can turn people off from reading the whole poster and getting all the details about the event. So, there needs to be a balance of both functionality and aesthetics for the design to be a successful tool.
Therefore, the best things to do when designing are to keep it simple. Create a hierarchy of important information so that the viewers have all the knowledge that they’ll need to attend the event and cut any information that isn’t critical to the success of the design. Think of a functional design like telling a friend a joke. The best jokes are short, sweet, and to the point.
When I look at chocolate, I hear two voices in my head.
The first one says: “You need to eat that chocolate.”
The second voice says: “You heard. Eat the chocolate.”
Now, if I had typed out that same joke but made it the length of this blog, you probably wouldn’t read it. That’s because we live in a time where people want information quick and easy and don’t want to overcomplicate things. The same principles should be applied when developing your designs. Allow the sophistication of your design to capture their attention, and help the viewer understand everything they need to know in the most concise possible way for them to retain all the important information. That way they won’t miss seeing that band they’ve been meaning to see but can never find the information through all the clutter.
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