Information Design Post 3

photo-3This week I thought I would take a closer look at nutrition labels. For my first example, here’s the label from some cranberry juice I had sitting in my refrigerator. Just in my daily life I’ve seen this type of food label thousands of times and as you can see, this one here isn’t anything special. I thought this would be an interesting example of information design because it’s one that most people take for granted and often will overlook, but the audience for this type of design is literally everyone and is extremely important because whatever we consume is obviously affecting us directly. Looking at this thing I think almost anyone could agree it doesn’t do much aesthetically, and even functionally it’s just barely doing it’s job. The problem with nutrition labels is that they aren’t necessarily all that intuitive and there are actually many people who don’t know how to read them. Unless you have had some basic education in nutrition these labels aren’t that informative.

My next example is a redesigned idea of what would be a better solution for nutrition labels. It’s still not perfect but I think its still definitely a huge improvement. I love that they included a more interesting visual way of expressing the serving size (apparently a lot of people just assume that the nutrition facts are for the entire package and never knew to look at the serving size) and how they not only blocked out which food groups you’re getting, but also color-codified which are beneficial nutrients and what’s not so beneficial. The only thing that might be problematic about this one is how large it is (depending on what kind of food packaging it is) however I think that information as essential as this is worth the extra square inch or so.

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Information Design Post 2

My first example is an infographic about blueberries. While it may not be the most exciting design ever, it’s clean and simple and gets the job done. I picked this poster because I felt the layout would be similar to my current school project and it would be a good chance to really pick it apart and see what’s working. I was also drawn to the fact that the designer chose to use both photographs and illustrations. This was a great idea because he stuck to a very limiting color pallet and by opting to use illustrations, he was able to not only stick to these colors but also illustrate rather abstract ideas (it would probably have been more challenging to try and photograph something to represent “cancer risk reduction”). Another thing that I realized when looking at this piece was just how important hierarchy is for information design. Specifically, in his type treatment, it’s obvious what the main title is, the subheaders, and the captions. Overall, I think he did a lot of interesting things with his photographs to make it beautiful and I learned a little more about blueberries!

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 9.54.30 PM

My next example is from a Tazo tea tin. I’ve never really looked at a food label before and thought of it as information design but it really is! I especially love Tazo’s aesthetics. The packaging they have always stands out to me when I’m at the grocery store scanning the shelves of all the colorful wide variety of teas. But I love Tazo’s minimalist clean approach to their packaging, which looks fresh and modern compared to all the other brands. While most people know how to make tea already I thought this little design was a nice little touch and the set of icons were well done.

Information Design Post 1

Information design: the practice of presenting information in a way that fosters efficient and effective understanding of it. [x]

This quarter I’ll be focusing on the topic of information design and sharing a few examples every week or so. Something I particularly like about information design is how vast the field is. Even in our daily lives we probably see and rely on so many different forms of information design without even realizing it! A few of my goals for this quarter are to explore as many different types of information design possible and try to key in on what makes one more successful over another.

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest

My first example is just something lighthearted and fun. I was scrolling through Pinterest and just happened to stumble upon this graphic. Once again, I think it just reiterates that info design can be found anywhere and everywhere, and take any shape or form. Since I found it on pinterest, I think the main audience for this one would probably be women in their 20-30s. I found this design to be very accurate and effective. The fact that the illustrator chose to use just black, and no other colors helps the viewer focus in on the shape/silhouette. I also like the choice to use illustrated pictures rather than photographs. It shows the information cleanly and very uniformly.

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Source: Yelp

My second example is this menu from Evolution Fresh. I work downtown, so I am constantly looking for new places to try on my lunch breaks. I forgot to take a picture of my own so I grabbed this one from yelp, but I specifically remember this menu because I thought it stood out from all the other boring menu’s I’ve seen before. For a menu, this one is particularly beautiful and effective. The sub titles are bolded and it is easy to follow because it reads from top to bottom and it even numbered. Perhaps I’ve been so brainwashed by swiss design that I love anything that is on a grid and has ample white-space, but I loved how well crafted and different this menu was!

This final chapter explores different disciplinary fields within design, including their pros and cons and a section highlighting experts in each given field.

Logo Design & Brand Idenity Logo design and brand identity are essential because you are literally creating a defining mark to represent your client. You need to be able to communicate with their target audience and leave a lasting impression. A few skills required are having a firm knowledge of symbolism and visual semiotics, as well as great research skills. This is an exciting field because there is usually a lot of opportunity for visual creativity and clever communication. It is also especially satisfying to see a brand that you helped develop launch, expand, and succeed. A few downsides include  the risk of uneducated clients modifying your hard work to the point that it is no longer recognizable, or the fact that unless you are hired for a full branding development position within a company, you’ll need to generate lots of clients who need logos in order to pay the bills.

Paul Rand is a master of brand identity design. He was groundbreaking in the field of corporate logo design and many of his designs are still relevant today. Here are a few of his most famed logos including those of ABC, IBM, UPS, and Ford.

Paul Rand is a master of brand identity design. He was groundbreaking in the field of corporate logo design and many of his designs are still relevant today. Here are a few of his most famed logos including those of ABC, IBM, UPS, and Ford. (Source)

Motion Graphics Within motion graphics there are three specializations including Business-to-business, advertising, and film/video specialization. The emphasis on this field is the speed of communication and how effectively you can convey information in a limited amount of time.  To do this you must have an appreciation of pace, rhythm, and storyboarding as well as the ability to work comfortably with complexity and layering.  Pros of this field include being apart of a cutting edge environment whereas a con would be the insanely fast turnaround that comes with the job. Here is an example of a title sequence done by the godfather of motion graphics, Saul Bass. Others works by him include opening and closing credits for films such as North by Northwest, Vertigo, West Side Story, and Big.

Web Design Web design is huge and has become more and more prevalent than ever! With advancements in technology and accessibility of computers and the web made so widespread, the internet is really changing the way people look at things. Many skills are needed for this discipline including an understanding of user experience, the ability to keep up with the changing technological advancements, basic understanding of CSS and HTML, and an understanding of web standards, web accessibility, and search engine optimization. The exciting part is that you are involved in a constantly evolving technology and that there are many many opportunities out there. The not so great qualities are that projects can be ongoing and require a regular upkeep, and that technology updates can be time consuming and expensive.

Editorial Design There is a large range of editorial design out there including those for the production of book, print and virtual magazines, brochures, and catalogs. The tast is to take raw information such as photos and text and place it strategically to maximize legibility, impact, and communication. Some of the skills required are an excellent understanding and mastery of typography, hierarchy, and the grid system, an accurate eye for content correction, and a team focused attitude. The exciting part is that you will work on a wide variety of content and that you will be able to see your work on the shelves at bookstores or on the internet. The not so great part however is that many revisions will be involved and the speed and amount of work it takes for each project is a lot.

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Alexey Brodovitch was the art director for fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar for twenty years and influential in the the design industry. (AIGA)

 

Tools & Technology

The next chapter of Graphic Design School focuses on the tools and technologies that surround design. Considering that almost everything designers do is completely digital, it is important to learn and be up to date with the most current technologies. This unit covers photography, photoshop, inDesign, adobe illustrator, and flash and aftereffects.  While each component discussed in this chapter is crucial, in effort to make the most of my post I will mostly just be narrowing in on photography and photoshop.

The first sub topic introduced in this unit is the idea of image making. The first decision you must make in design is how will you best convey your message. Understanding the different possibilities you have within different medias is essential to creating a successful design. For example, if you’re designing for a product advertisement you may want to utilize photography but if you’re making a book cover maybe a digital illustration may serve best. Its your call to ultimately figure out how to best express your idea.

Even within the field of photography there are many different types such as objects and products, portraits and images of people, landscapes and buildings, ephemera and texture, and reference and research. Lighting, cropping, style and editing are all going to make a difference in what type of images will be best for your project. The book gives the example that most product images are brightly lit, sharp, and clear whereas an expressive portrait may be much different.

Here is an image I pulled off of Nordstrom's online store.

Here is an image I pulled off of Nordstrom’s online store. Because the purpose of this photo is to hopefully sell an item, it is effective for Nordstrom to want a brightly lit, sharp, detailed photograph with a clean solid background with little distractions. The audience would hopefully see this image and have a greater understanding of what they can expect if they were to purchase this dress. (Nordstrom)

Now here is an example of a different dress being displayed on Free People's website (same brand). While subjectively I think this is a beautiful image, objectively I think it's really missing the mark! As a consumer, shopping online is a lot riskier because you don't actually know if what you'll get in the mail will be the same as what you see online or will fit the way you imagined. I think the style of photography for this image is completely wrong .

Now here is an example of a different dress being displayed on Free People’s website (same brand). While subjectively I think this is a beautiful image, objectively I think it’s really missing the mark! As a consumer, shopping online vs in store is a lot riskier because you don’t actually know if what you’ll get in the mail will be the same as what you see online or will fit the way you imagined. As a designer you really need to think about the most effective way to fulfill your purpose and in this case maybe it would be a lot better had they used photography more like the example prior rather than something this expressive. (Free people)

 

Fundamentals of Color

This week’s topic is color! Color is an incredibly important tool because often it is a viewer’s first read. Graphic Design School states that “psychologists have proven that the color of an object is seen before its shape and details.” With this in mind, it is crucial to understand how to use color effectively.

The first part of this chapter starts off by giving an introduction to basic color vocabulary such as hue, tone, saturation, etc. If you haven’t been following my blog, I actually touch on most of these in a post from a few weeks ago, so I’ll avoid being too redundant. If you’d like to go back and review these, scroll down to my “Concrete Objects and Structures”post from several months ago or click here.

Moving along, it is important to also know how color works in regards to printing. What you see on a computer screen is not always going to be exactly the same in print. This is because the computer uses the RGB coloring system while printers use the CMYK system.

Here is a side by side comparison of the same image in RGB and CMYK. In my experience printing, this seems like a little bit of an exaggeration, but you can obviously see the difference between the two and how much duller and less saturated CMYK looks. (google images)

Here is a side by side comparison of the same image in RGB and CMYK. In my experience printing, this seems like a little bit of an exaggeration, but you can obviously see the difference between the two and how much duller and less saturated CMYK looks. (google images)

The RGB color system is named such because it uses three additive colors, red, green, and blue. This all has to do with the way light works. I’ll refrain from trying to get too scientific but when you add red light with green and blue light, surprisingly you end up with white light. Most of us are much more familiar with the way CMYK would work, which is subtractive colors. CMYK uses cyan, magenta, and yellow (the k stands for “key” which is black). These are the colors a printer uses.

RGB uses red, green, and blue to create colors while CMYK uses cyan, magenta ,and yellow. (read more about this here)

RGB uses red, green, and blue to create colors while CMYK uses cyan, magenta ,and yellow. (read more about this here)

Now that you understand some of the fundamentals about color its important to understand how it can be used in a design. I think color is especially important for legibility and codification. In order to break up information color coding can be very useful. It is an easy way to separate and group things that belong together, but also to distinguish differences.

For example, this soda brand relies almost exclusively on color to distinguish difference in flavor. While you could look closer and read the words that identify each bottle's flavor, color is a much faster and easier way to tell. (designspiration)

For example, this soda brand relies almost exclusively on color to distinguish difference in flavor. While you could look closer and read the words that identify each bottle’s flavor, color is a much faster and easier way to tell. (designspiration)

Lastly, to expand on some of these concepts I found this website on color and its associations in different parts of the world. One thing that every designer has to keep in mind when picking out color is that each color has a different meaning. This is great if you want to express a certain mood or feeling. For example, if you want something to exude warmth and happiness you might choose yellow or orange or to show sophistication, black. But one thing you  have to be careful about is what that color might connotate in a different culture. Think about the audience of what you are creating and then research what that demographic thinks of each color. Color association differs between different cultures, classes, genders, and age.  In Western cultures we associate death and mourning with the color black but actually in most Eastern cultures white is what symbolizes death and sorrow.

Here's a great infographic about different color meaning in regards to different countries. As you can see, there is a large variety of what each color represents what depending on the culture. (visual.ly)

Here’s a great infographic about different color meaning in regards to different countries. As you can see, there is a large variety of what each color represents what depending on the culture. (visual.ly)

Fundamentals of Typography

This week’s chapter from Graphic Design School focused exclusively on typography. While a type enthusiast should have a pretty complete knowledge on this subject, for the purposes of this blog I’m just going to touch on some good basics.

The first thing the chapter offered was how to understand and select typefaces. Since there are a vast majority of different fonts out there (even Microsoft Word has well over a hundred different fonts to choose from) finding just the right typeface can sometimes be challenging. The first thing you probably should know is the difference between a serif and a sans serif font. A serif is “a slight projection finishing off a stroke of a letter in certain typefaces.” A serif font is historically older and the serifs are there to mimic brush strokes and are supposedly easier to read in body text while sans serif fonts are much newer and have a more modern aesthetic. 

Here is a great infographic about the different parts that make up a letterform. While it is interesting to know all of them, specifically make sure you at least can see what a serif is. (source)

Here is a great infographic about the different parts that make up a letterform. While it is interesting to know all of them, specifically make sure you at least can see what a serif is. (source)

There are also many different classifications of type such as blackletter, oldstyle, script, transitional, modern, square serif, serif, and sans serif. It is important to know the difference between the different subgroups and when it would be appropriate to use such since they all have such different aesthetics and tones to them. For example, for a wedding invitation you might prefer to use a script font because they often evoke elegance and formality while blackletter might not be such a good choice because it is much more dramatic and somewhat old fashioned (unless of course, that’s the look you’re going for!).

Here are seven different fonts I selected to show a variety of the different type faces there are out there. Notice the differences between them and contemplate why a certain style might be a good choice for typographic reason but maybe not for something else.