The Design Revolution: What the Digital Age Has Meant for Design

digital-designAs I’ve said elsewhere on this blog, I am a third year design major, and part of our school’s program requirement is that everyone take a few electives in the history of graphic design. There are a number of different classes that meet this requirement. For example, printmaking classes count towards this requirement. There are also a few different historical art/design classes that meet the requirement and it was one of these that caught my eye when I was decided what course I wanted to take to fill this elective.

The title of the class is “The Design Revolution: What the Digital Age Has Meant for Design.” It is a brief survey of the graphic design industry from 1950 onwards—focusing specifically on how the digital age has revolutionized this once very manual and tedious profession.

This class interested me for a few different reasons. The first of which is that I am a little bit of a history nerd. I enjoy watching documentaries and watching the History channel late at night. The past is something of importance to all of us because it shapes the future—and the past of design is incredible. I wanted to be able to have an appreciation from where my future profession has come from in order that I might know better where it is heading. And where graphic design is heading is without doubt completely controlled by the digital world.

The second reason why I opted to take this class is because to many of my friends and other students in my program has absolutely no knowledge of anything graphic design wise from before—say 2005. How can you expect to be taken seriously when your knowledge of a subject is so incredibly limited? So many students in my program have no idea about the history of graphic design or why things are the way they are or why modern websites appear as they do. Their knowledge is so limited that I can’t even imagine them getting hired somewhere. After all, who wants to hire someone with virtually no knowledge of their own field!?

I really hope this class will give me a foundation of understanding of graphic design and its history that brought us into the modern age that will give me an upper hand to some of my peers. At the end of the day, that is what it is all about, setting yourself apart from everyone else. You need to be unique in your designs and creative with your work. You need to think about graphics like no one is or has. You need to be an innovator and a trend setting. In today’s innovative culture nothing is valued more than someone who can create an entire new product or process of doing things.

That is exactly what I plan to learn to do in this class. Going through classes like this get me inspired and exhilarated because I get to study what it is that has inspired those people before me. People like Steven Jobs and Bill Gates and other digital innovators.

Elements of a Good Web Design

web-designA lot of people ask me what makes a good site? Is it the graphics? Is it the content? Is it the layout? What is the special formula? Well, the short answer is all of the above! But, in this post I want to go through a little more step-by-step of what I think makes a good site for public consumption. So, here we go!

Layout

I think the single most important thing to a well performing website it its layout. This goes for its architecture, its navigation, and its functionality. On any given page of a website, you should be able to access the previous page and have options that are readily available for people to keep on reading with. This can be as simple as an “other articles” button down at the bottom of the text or in the sidebar, but you need something to keep your audience reading if they want to. Don’t just have them get to a dead stop once they finish the one article.

There is nothing worse than a site with great content but terrible navigation. This turns into a nightmare for your readers and they stop interacting with your site as much as they otherwise would have if the navigation were on par.

Design

Obviously the layout of a website is an element of design, but what I mean by design right here is the look and feel of the graphics that are displayed on your site. When I say layout, I mean the actual diagramming of the site page layout architecture.

It’s important to have a modern design to your website. Today people are becoming more and more aesthetically demanding on the Internet—especially as quality graphically content becomes more and more affordable. You will want to make sure your fonts are current fonts, not some old time looking typewriter font. You’ll want to make sure your graphics are slick and that you nav bars are rich.

Another huge part of a website today is its mobile functionality. In today’s Internet world, you either have a mobile site or you are losing out on traffic. Something like 35 percent of all Internet traffic today is done with some kind of mobile device. That is absolutely huge! And it is only going to grow, so it’d be best to invest in the technology sooner rather than later.

Content

As unfortunate as it, I think I would have to rate content as the third of the most important parts of a good website. The old saying of “Content is King” does hold true to a certain extent but as for the first point about layout, great content doesn’t do anyone any good if people can’t access it readily or easily navigate it. Secondly, if your content looks outdated and poorly designed you will lose out some visitors. Not all, but definitely some who will go to other sites that look nicer.

But at the end of the day, content is a huge part of a website, and you really need to make sure that you are producing the best content that you can for you visitors. And this goes for your website, your email campaigns, or any of your social media profiles.

Designing a Good Social Media Campaign

social-mediaSocial media is all the rage these days. While the old days of digital marketing might have focused on TV ads, People are investing thousands and thousands of dollars into new and innovative social media campaigns and start ups looking to be the next Facebook or Twitter. Some have managed to do just that. Facebook bought Instagram for $1 Billion. Vine and Snapchat are also valued at hundreds of millions of dollars. Meanwhile, countless of the platforms have fallen by the wayside.

All the while, companies spend thousands on marketing on platforms that may or may not even be here tomorrow. So, how can you navigate through the social media jungle so you can get a good return on your investment? Today, I want to talk about some of the elements of setting up a good social media campaign.

The first thing you need to keep in mind when you’re setting up your social media marketing campaign is to think about the user base of the platform you’ll be using. That is, what product will you be marketing? If you’re marketing a product for people 30 years and older, it’s probably not the best idea to put money into a Vine campaign. But, for a company like Beats by Dre this would make perfect sense because their user base is a much younger audience.

Something that goes hand in hand with a platform’s user base is just how many users there are on a platform. If there aren’t very many users on a platform, it might not even be worth your investment and you should move over to one that has more interaction.

Another very important thing you need to consider is the production quality of whatever you will be promoting. For the small investment that is costs to make production quality high, it is well worth your time. For example, if you’re making a Youtube video, get a nice camera and some decent video editing software. This not only adds credibility to your product, but it also keeps people’s attention. I know, personally at least, when I see a video with nice graphics and transitions I am much more likely to sit through more of the video than one of lesser quality. If you need to hire a designer or a programmer, it’ll be worth the expense in the long run.

The next thing you must do is segment your audience, so you’re not just advertising to everyone under the sun. You want to have a very targeted audience that will bring you the highest return. This will bring in more conversions, plus it will also cost you less.

My vote on which platforms to use aren’t anything out of the ordinary. I personally think that there are really only two main platforms that are worth advertising on at the moment for your business: Facebook and Twitter. Both of these platforms are widely used by people of all age groups and have huge user bases. I don’t think you can go wrong with these two sites.

Those are the basics of setting up and designing your social media campaign. If you have any other questions, shoot me an email.

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