Wednesday, June 17, 2009

speaking their language

understanding design subtleties when you’re not a designer is quite a challenge. as a designer, explaining those subtleties can be just as challenging! recently i designed my very dear friend maria killam’s blog masthead (commonly referred to as a header), and in my interaction with her i really got present to what it is we take for granted in our professional knowledge, and how best to communicate the impact of what we’re creating in such a way that it is easily understood.

as a visual person i try my best to illustrate my explanations in ways that are either familiar to my client or generally easy to relate to. for example, typography can be categorized in two major families such as serif and sans serif. but then there are thousands of fonts within those two families, and to most the differences that exist between them are really difficult to see — never mind understanding why we choose one over an other. just like wine can be mainly categorized as red or white, if you’re a wine drinker you know that what really matters is the kind of grapes used, the aromas and the finish. then there’s an entire science to just pairing wine with food.

can you spot the subtle differences?

when maria asked me about the font i picked for her blog, i related the subtle differences in the fonts to the undertone in paint colours. being an interior designer maria knows the importance of picking a wall colour with the "right" undertone given the other components in the room. when choosing a font i explained, the details are just as important within the context it is used, and in her case i wanted the lines in the font to compliment the beautiful lines in her illustration.

clients ask a lot of whys when you design something because they need to relate to a solid explanation for your choices. and granted, when they pay you big dollars for your expertise, it is fair for them to get their answers. so speak their language! just like i used maria’s language of design for her to relate to my graphic choices. in my view that is the easiest way to get each other’s expertise — not to mention sell your creative concept! because when people understand, more often than not they are also enrolled in your idea.

btw : maria killam is the one who inspired me into blogging. although i haven’t yet done as good a job as her with her blog, i’m working on it. — thanks maria!