Have you ever opened a magazine, read an article and wondered, “How did the designer think of THAT design element?”
This is a question I have asked myself so many times that I lost count. Then I again I haven’t been counting. As a designer you need to know how to visually communicate a message, that’s the essence of your job. Yet sometimes you see an article about cows and you see a bell or a stylized face of a cow used as a bullet. Or you are doing a car catalogue and you notice that the page numbers have the same elements of the logo of the car. Sometimes you manage to think at those things in a snap, while other times you just have a design block. What do you do in that situation?
If your job is based on a full marketing research, you will probably know what people think of when you say “drink” or when you say “soccer.” Thus you start using design elements that are related to those subjects to get your audience to dive into the article they are reading. Other times you just don’t have that marketing research and it isn’t required that you do one. You still have to communicate your message effectively, you have to pound in the head of your reader that you are talking about soccer and the various design elements serve that purpose. The article alone isn’t enough. The design elements around that article have to clearly tell that it’s all about football. Yet you still have a design block. You really don’t know what to associate to soccer.
Internet search engines and SEO techniques are often a good tool.
“How?â€”you sayâ€”I already have an article about soccer, I don’t need more information about it. And my magazine isn’t going to appear on Google’s top entries, it’s a printed product! I really think you didn’t drink enough coffee, want me to make some more?”
While I thank you for your offer, I am pretty much convinced you can’t beat Italian coffee, so I’ll have to decline. Think about it. With SEO you discover the keywords people use to find out about to a certain subject and you get to know what they are interested in. This will help you approach something with the eyes of your readers. After all in a marketing research you find out what people need and want, and tools like Overture do that in seconds.
OK, now you know what people need and want, you know how to word your phrases to strike them in their soccer supporter hearts, but still that doesn’t tell you how to find good visuals. Yet it does. Now you know what words to type in Google Images, or Yahoo! or whatever you are using, and you will get a lot of pictures and graphics showing you exactly what people think when you say soccer, world cup, football, etc. While you should not use those images without permission, you now have lots of ideas for your design elements. You can use the same keywords in stock photography sites and find images you can actually use too. This simple method does not replace marketing research, but it’s surely helpful to get ideas while you design. Most of you are probably doing that already.
I have used the subject of soccer since it’s very familiar to people. It’s an easy subject to think with, so everyone can follow the article easily, I am sure you agree. However this very simple method can be used in other situations, with other subjects.
Now, how exactly do I know that soccer is familiar to most people?