WHY IS GRAPHIC DESIGN IMPORTANT?
The question is extremely actual and is often asked by both clients and those who are considering their career path in design. So, we have already published several articles in Tubik Blog and Design4Users giving deeper insights into the role of graphic design and potential directions of its use. Here I will echo some positions that could be helpful around the theme.
«The details are not the details. They make the design.» These words about the nature of the job, expressed by Charles Eames, have become a well-known eternal truth for graphic designers. They are actually the people building a bridge between the art and the functional goal-centered design. They mix the power of art and functionality within the limits of particular goals and definite audience.
Graphic design can be described as the sphere of human activity that lies on the crossroads of several directions, first of all, visual arts, communication and psychology. Basically, graphic designers do the job of communication to others by means of graphic (visual) elements such as images of different style and complexity, types and fonts, pictograms, shapes and sizes, colors and shades, lines and curves etc. Graphic designer makes all those elements of visual perception transfer the message, so he makes them functional. Therefore, we could say that graphic designers are artists applying their talents mostly not in pure art, but communicating and purposeful art. Modern graphic design broadly covers all spheres of human life which deal with visual communication, from books and posters to sophisticated mobile applications or 3D animation. Let’s look into directions in which graphic designers can express their creativity for the sake of solving problems and satisfying needs.
Nowadays, graphic design is an incredibly broad sphere for application of artistic talents. In particular, it includes:
- editorial design;
- identity (logo and branding) design;
- icons and pictograms;
- interface graphics and elements;
- print advertisements;
- big print items such as posters and billboards;
- packaging, etc.
Thus, it’s easily seen that modern designers in this sphere have multiple options to apply their talents. In all the mentioned directions, the basic purpose of graphic design is to serve a particular purpose or even a set of them by means and techniques of art.
Today, graphic design can set diverse purposes. It rarely happens that the object of graphic design serves only one objective. Looking over the most essential of them, we would mention the following:
IDENTIFYING: this purpose first of all serves for branding reasons. It is primarily concerned on creating logos which usually lie the foundation for the whole branding strategy. This is the task at which designers work with multiple factors combining specific features of target audience, laws and rules of artistic harmony, psychology of color and shape impact on human perception and emotions, current situation on the market, business goals of the brand or company.
BEAUTYFYING: this is the broadly used function of graphic design items that has found its comprehensive realization in all the spheres of users interaction with visual stuff, from advertising to book covers and cartoons, to user interfaces of all kinds, packaging, photos and tons of other things. It’s not a secret that people are not only rational but also emotional creatures, and most of us are visually driven and aesthetically engaged. Although the content and functions are the most important factors of making a product problem-solving, the old classic trend hasn’t changed: people still believe that a good dress is a card of invitation. Attractive and stylish look is traditionally highly important to make your user think about trying the product, especially in conditions of modern intense competition.
Graphic design in all its variety becomes a powerful tool of interface beautification. It can be applied in the slightest details like icons and up to significant elements like illustrations and mascots.
SETTING THE THEME: the broad variety of graphic design techniques and diversity of approaches establish steady foundation of setting the theme of the offered product via visual elements. Like the copy is able to not only transfer the message but also set the tone and voice of communication, the visual elements, including background, typography, composition, color palette, shapes and sizes, stylistic approaches can immediately inform the user about the features and market segment of the app or website and also appeal to emotions of target audience. Visual perception plays the incredible role in decision-making, especially in cases of the first interaction when only several short minutes and sometimes even seconds are vital to get the user interested. This function also works when the graphics highlight specific trends or events.
EXPLAINING AND GUIDING: this function of graphic design elements is widely used both in print and in all the types of interfaces, first of all in various tutorials, manuals, tool-tips, guides etc. No need to say that here a picture is really worth a thousand words: it saves precious time and helps to avoid big copy blocks. Moreover, graphics based on thorough analysis of target audience turn on the mechanism of empathy and emotional appeal which also enhances user experience and supports business goals.
ENHANCING NAVIGATION: custom graphic elements are a great tool enhancing navigation and therefore boosting usability. Based on user research and testing, it can have a great impact on conversions and retaining readers, providing easy flow of journey through the website or app. In addition, all this positive influence is supported with aesthetic pleasure which users get from sophisticated visual elements and harmonic composition.
BOOSTING COMMUNICATION WITH A CARACHTER: the element of personification thoughtfully applied in the product can boost positive user experience, enhance brand image and brand awareness. That is one of the reasons why creating mascots is often a part of general design concept and content strategy. And that is the job where graphic designers can show their best. Efficient mascots should be based on thorough analysis of needs, wishes and expectations of target audience, and also attentive study of the market environment to support the appropriate level of originality as the basis for effective design solutions.
MAKING THE COPY STYLISH: one more important perspective of graphic design is typography. Designers are usually keen to make the copy applied in the products not only legible and readable, but also nice, attractive and emotional. In cases of lettering for branding it also adds such vital features as originality and recognizability.
As we can see, there are multiple purposes which can be set as well as multiple goals which can be achieved through graphic design. Diversity of approaches enables to create original and unique design solutions and with support of user research, analysis and thoughtful testing graphic design elements can efficiently enhance usability, strengthen branding and provide positive user experience. That is the point where art and functionality merge and meld for the sake of solving problems and making people happier.
Marina Yalanska, CMO for Tubik Studio, tech/design blogger and researcher