Using Graphic Design Principles To Create Experience
October 11, 2013
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Many graphic designers do a great deal of planning to ensure that the results of their work—the design's usefulness and functionality—are positive and effective. Commonly referred to as user experience, graphic design principles are the basis for experiential design. So, what is it and why is it important?
What Is Experience?
User experience is how a person feels when he or she uses or looks at any artifact, product or service. It answers questions like "Was it helpful?" and "Did they like it?" Creating experience is important because it can generate pleasure for the person using your design and it's a measure of your design's effectiveness. For example, if you designed a subway map poster, your concerns for creating experience would be the poster's functionality, design and legibility. If the poster is illogical or hard to read, it won't help a lost rider nor will it create a pleasant experience—it's more likely to cause frustration.
How do you use graphic design principles to create experience? The first step is to ask the right questions before you even begin. Examine the user. Every designer should understand who they are designing for:
- Who are the users?
- What are their needs?
- How will they benefit from the project?
Color creates mood. You can choose color depending on the mood you want to create or the ideas associated with a given color. For instance, green often signifies sustainability and environmental efforts. Blue is frequently used for technology projects. If you want to grab attention or need a color reminiscent of energy, then you might choose yellow or orange.
Fonts create mood as well. Sans serif, serif, script or handwriting-style fonts set the tone for the overall design. Sans serif fonts tend to be more modern, while a serif typewriter-like font can create a mood that suggests a previous era—like the 1930s. Handwriting fonts, on the other hand, add a personal touch or create a handmade look and feel.
Of course, you can't create experience without the perfect layout. Use your layout to elicit emotion. Deconstructed or spontaneous layouts lend themselves to an organic or free-form spread, which, although ambiguous, makes associations between words and images that wouldn't occur otherwise. Conceptual or pictorial layouts might use strategically placed words to mimic the structure of a wave, creating a different experience than a rigid columnar grid.
Functionality is obviously a key component of creating a useful design. This is where your initial research comes into play. Ask yourself what kind of information the users need. What's the best way to display the information so it's easy to find? Let the answers to these questions guide your placement of certain elements.
Don't be afraid to add humor, a story line or something quirky to your work because it can instantly add experience to the project. Greenpeace, for instance, designed a shopping bag to appear like you're holding a monkey's hand when you carry it. YKM designed a shopping bag to resemble people jumping rope. The Bored Panda website shows these and other clever and creative shopping bag designs that are fun to tote—but it's just as much fun to watch someone else carrying them. Now that's experience!
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons