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5 graphic design trends you need to know for 2016

December 23, 2015 by Klaus Uhlig
Graphic design is at an exciting crossroads right now as the technology we use to create as well as the technology we use to access these creations continue to evolve rapidly. Here, in no particular order, are the exciting changes and new strategic directions you will see in graphic design in 2016.

1) Typography will be set free. Just five years ago, only a handful of fonts could be used on the web. There has always been a huge list of fonts to choose from, but the list was only a few choices long if you wanted a website to look and feel the same regardless of the web browser. Now there are more than 100 web-compatible fonts to choose from, allowing designers to be as creative with fonts on the web as they are on paper. If pictures can dance across the screen, why can’t fonts?

2) Design will come full circle. When print design was in its infancy, available technology allowed for creating only ‘flat designed’ products. Over the years, the technology has become more robust, allowing for designs with more depth and vibrancy. But now in 2016, it’s the technology used by consumers that is turning the clock back to flat designs. Flat graphics are imperative for mobile phone viewing. And let’s face it, mobile sites are no longer an after thought – their development is part of overall strategic planning.

3) Mobile will happen first. Using a smartphone to view websites is a fairly new phenomenon, yet smartphones are rapidly becoming the primary technology used by consumers to surf the web. Until now, graphic designers have always designed for the computer screen first and then adapted the design to be mobile-friendly. This is shifting, as mobile-friendly websites are becoming the primary thought, followed by an adaptation for the desktop. This requires a new way of strategic thinking for both corporations and graphic designers.

4) Scrolling will trump clicking. For as long as I can remember, counting clicks on websites has been the ultimate success indicator. But user habits are changing and so are designer habits. The hot new desktop websites are a reflection of what users want to do and see – scroll to find what they need, rather than click through and wait for the next page to load. And so, single-page websites will continue to be hot in 2016.

 5) Bold, beautiful pictures will continue to flourish. One thing that won’t change next year is the notion of large background pictures on landing pages (or at the top of a single-page website). We have the technology to create beautiful pages and the technology to view these beautiful pages; so why wouldn’t we?



Creative

The true cost of a free logo design

December 03, 2015 by Klaus Uhlig

Take a moment to Google the words “logo design” and almost instantly the page will be filled with search results for free and low-cost logo designs and/or do-it-yourself design tools. Scroll through the list and you’ll read descriptions such as:


- FREE logo generator tool for your small to medium sized company.

- Get a free logo design using our quick and easy logo maker tool.

- Large selection of high quality logos.


Such a variety of choices begs the question: “why would anyone pay for a graphic designer to create a logo when cheap options are so readily available?”

The answer is simple. A company’s logo is much more than a quickly generated image or some stylized text – a logo is a reflection of a company’s entire identity, strategic direction and should speak to its target market.

A graphic designer doesn’t simply produce an image to match the company’s name and send you on your way. Instead, a graphic designer takes the time to understand your company’s overall objectives and what your logo needs to accomplish. A graphic designer also takes the time to understand your target market to know what will speak to it best.

When I take on a logo design project, the first order of business is to have the client fill out a standard questionnaire that I created. The questions include topics such as the company’s goals, competitors, challenges, differentiators and target market.

This is then followed up with a discussion about the direction the client sees the company taking as well as what they like (and don’t like) about the logos of some of their competitors.

All of this is necessary to truly understand the company whose logo I’m creating. Being a direct reflection of a company’s identity means needing to understand and connect with that identity before pencil can ever be put to paper.

So, if you want a guy in a land far, far way that doesn’t understand your market and your audience, and contributes nothing of value to your strategic standpoint then go ahead and choose the first logo design offering on the Google search results list. But if you want your logo to be an overarching reflection of your strategic direction, then it’s worth investing the time, effort and money into designing a proper and effective logo that adds value to your business and differentiates your offering.

 

 

Creative

Graphic design vs. the smartphone

November 12, 2015 by Klaus

Rapidly changing technology is one of the things that have made graphic design so exciting over the last few decades.

In the 1980s, there were few high quality software programs to create concepts, whereas nowadays we have an entire suite of choices over a wide spectrum of applications – allowing for new creative concepts and a deeper delivery of work.


And because of this, brands need to be mindful of how they’re viewed across multiple platforms – both in big, bold print mediums and in the digital world. Good brand design focuses on elevating a brand above the crowd.


But even though the technology used to create brand designs is important, what’s more important is the technology used to view these brand designs. To consider that, we don’t need to look back 25 years, we only need to look back at how much consumer habits have changed in the last five years.

Websites and the Internet in general has been a major player for brands for years. But, in the last several years, the digital world has changed from large screen computer monitors to small screen smartphones and tablets. And the flashy web designs that looked fabulous five years ago don’t transfer well to a smartphone.

Because to view a website on a smartphone, you can’t simply take the same design used on a billboard (or on a flashy website) and basically shrink it down. You need to think more strategically, responsively and creatively to find a way to tie the brand seen on a billboard to that same brand seen on a smartphone. (Remember the tips in the previous blog post for creating a brand design that stands out in a crowd? Cross platform application is where you really get to put that advice into practice.)

In an ironic sort of way, the robust technology to create anything we could ever want is now available, but when it comes to digital design, creatives are showing restraint and returning to their simplified roots in terms of visual manifestation.

So, how has responsive web design impacted digital communications? Visually! The visual acrobatics of past websites are toning down to simpler, cleaner looks. Colour is now being used in a consistent way and typography is being examined for cross platform functionality.

At the end of the day, changes in professional technology has allowed graphic designers to create bold and exciting stuff, while at the same time changes in consumer technology has provided the refreshing counter-balance to remain media smart.

Creative