Why do we design?

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First of all, I’d like to welcome you to our new site, our home on the web. It’s been a long time coming, but we’re very excited about all of the new opportunities it will provide to engage and share with all of you, not the least of which being this blog, which we hope to update regularly with insights, information, and anecdotes about the multimedia world.

When we were deciding how to describe what we do, we realized it was very easy to focus on the usual things that a portfolio tends to emphasize: who we are, what we do, and why we like to do it. In observing other design portfolios across the web (and this Smashing Magazine article is a great place to start if you’re curious) we noticed many common elements. A love of design, of aesthetics, of beautiful things. A love of order, of organization, of usability. A love of coding, of app building, of script writing. These are all things that made us decide to pursue design as a career, and these are all things that we as designers consider throughout the design process.

But are these really the things the client is looking for?

Sure, an effective site needs to be standards compliant, organized, aesthetically pleasing (or at least not repulsive), and of course usable… but a client isn’t going to be asking for those things, nor are they thinking about these things. Clients are not designers, they are businesspeople. They are experts in their field coming to us with a goal, a need for results, a need to communicate a message. It is our job as designers, the experts in our field, not to just build something because it is beautiful, but to build something because it works for the client’s goals.

If you think about it, design is really a mastery of communication tools. We are not merely experts at building things, we are experts at knowing WHICH things to build and how to craft the end product to fit these goals.

These are four areas that we as designers can assist a client in communicating their message:

  1. WHAT is their message?
    Does the client have a message? If not, this is something a designer can assist with through brainstorming, question and answer, idea boards, or bringing in outside consultants.
  2. HOW does it serve their market?
    Is the message appropriate for their target audience? Does the message distinguish them from their competitors? These are great questions to ask during the initial development of a message, or something that can be observed when dealing with an established message.
  3. WHERE is their message?
    This is the one designers are most familiar with: building websites, advertisements, business cards, videos, etc. to get the client’s message out there. What is important to remember is that it is just as important to decide which means are most EFFECTIVE and APPROPRIATE for that specific client.
  4. HOW effective is their communication?
    Are people understanding the message? For example, if a brand is trying to communicate “high end” but its customers are seeing “cheap,” there is a disconnect in the communication. This is often what leads to a brand redesign, when the brand no longer fits the company’s message.

What do you think?

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