Turning a Creative Idea into an Impactful Piece of Content
Today, content design is associated with many things that go well beyond print and include graphic, web and mobile or even fashion and product design. However, one common goal of a content designer is to deliver a positive, impactful customer experience. With today’s broad content design ecosystem, and the emergence of digital as the primary vehicle to reach customers and prospects, the skillset of a traditional designer is evolving, going beyond handwritten artistry and tapping into technological advancements to deliver design outputs that show measurable results.
The traditional graphic designer role
Graphic designers are “artists” at heart – experts in visual communications – putting images, typography and graphics in motion to create a compelling design for print or digital publishing.
The traditional role and responsibilities of the graphic design professional typically include:
- Meeting with clients or the art director to determine the scope of a project
- Creating logos, original images, illustrations and other visual elements
- Creating page layouts, including the selection of colors, images and typefaces
- Presenting design concepts to clients or art directors
- Incorporating changes recommended by clients or art directors into final designs
- Reviewing designs for errors and gaining final approval before publishing them
What’s interesting is most graphic design schools historically don’t teach students about computers or how software can be used to augment your great idea. Yet, these graphic designers are using a plethora of tools to do their jobs and deliver the best possible end result. They’re tapping their intuitive ‘artsy side’ and leveraging the latest and greatest software and technologies available to support every stage of the design process, from brainstorming an idea, to sketching it out, to selecting styles, to formatting it in print and digital version effects.
Software helps turn a design tactic that previously took hours to mere minutes. As such, software design tools have taken a front seat in the design process – helping content designers be more productive in meeting deadlines, polishing their creative concepts and bringing them all together to produce the final content asset.
For example, designing for structured content is based on simple layouts that facilitate easy to consume content. Today’s content designers are deciding what technologies, structures and skillset they need to uplevel their finished product, and as a result, are expanding their independent designer ability to include a B2C designer skillset.
Designing content for B2C
A skilled content designer views every design a good design. Design originates and takes form in many ways, from a thought to a sketch, to a layout. Whether drawing a quick sketch on a napkin or designing for a digital ad, a skilled designer views each of equal importance. Remember, designing is based on creativity and what you put out to the world, but B2C content designers must sell a good design internally before they can sell it externally.
To have your work shine in B2C channels, content designers must pay close attention to formatting and have a desire for their work to be precise and aligned. They see the importance of merging the creativity side (including visuals, colors, compositional flow) with the formatting process (alignment, typesetting) and have a willingness and curiosity to learn new things. There are so many design tools out there worth exploring. Don’t view one as the be all, end all, or you’ll get stuck with something outdated. Each design is a creative exploration process, so look at technologies as part of that exploration process too.
We saw the design profession shift pace several years ago, segwaying from predominantly hand drawn visual work, to facing new technologies developed to help designers do their best work. Content designers who stay current with technology trends and use graphic design technologies to design and create work, set themselves up for long term success as it expands their skillset to go beyond the design value they can deliver for either their own success, or the success of a corporation. Keeping a steady pulse check on emerging technologies and becoming an expert in them expands the value you deliver, which creates new professional opportunities and supports your ability to design content for multiple channels: mobile, website, print, digital.
Why technical design layouts are important
Agnostic technical content design layouts give you the flexibility to produce content that delivers across multiple platforms (web, mobile, print) with the peace of mind it transitions the way it’s supposed to across that specific medium. The geometry in technical content design must be rationalized to fit multiple frameworks, which is no easy feat when you foresee that the same content could be published as a detailed report or a multi-slide PowerPoint presentation. Having that eye for simplicity and malleability within a structured framework is a skill in itself, one which often isn’t taught at school but gained through real world trial and error experience
Graphic design has a big role in today’s modern competitive B2C environment. Businesses need talented designers to help create materials that instantly inspire, inform and captivate consumers, making designers a core asset to the business.
To be successful, content designers must know the tools available to evolve from a print-first to a digital-first world and become a creative professional with knowledge of structured, componentized and compliance-controlled documentation templates alongside the more visually creative skills for imaging, illustration, 3D animation, prototyping for apps and video production.
Content designers with a dual skillset based on creative, visual design and structured content automation, however, can flourish. Expand your graphic design persona and leverage advanced technologies to turn your creative idea into an influential piece of content for today’s digital era.
QuarkXPress supports the evolution of today’s content designer. Try or buy today.