Planning UX projects: the project brief

UX Design: the Project Brief

The project brief is an important first step in UX design projects. The project brief gives you the framework of the project, describing the goals and objectives. It helps the designer create a framework that connects what the client wants with what is to be created. It should be dealt with at the beginning and during the initial client interview.  Another good thing about the project brief is it documents what the client initially asks for and if the client were to make changes halfway through the project, you, the designer, have documentation that shows what the original intentions were.

Best practices to consider when designing a project brief

  • Determine what the project goals are.
  • What is the client trying to communicate and why?
  • Who is the client, what do they do, and what business are they in?
  • Who is the client target demographic and audience?
  • Who is the client trying to target that they have not or have not been successful at in the past? Why?
  • What are the specifications of the project?
  • What is the budget?
  • What is the deadline?
  • Are there any limitations?
  • How will the project be delivered?
  • Ask the client to sign the project brief
  • Provide the client with a copy of the project brief

Here you can view some project brief examples

Unity and Contrast in typography

Unity and Contrast

Two important elements of the fundamentals of design are Unity and Contrast. Too much unity and you end up with something lacking attention grabbing appeal. Too much contrast and you may have something too chaotic for comfort. The key to excellent design is in finding a balance of contrast and unity that works well with the message you are conveying.

Unity

Unity in typography lets the audience know that sections of type belong together. Body copy, like that in a novel, is usually uniform so that the audience can easily read for long periods without interruption. Unity in this sense, is used so that the audience can focus on the meaning of the words rather then the typography itself.

The simplest type possible, such as Highway Gothic, is best for street signs to make sure the audience understands vital information. Unified type can be used to indicate when specific characters are speaking or even indicate feelings.

Knowledge of typography is important of Advertising, which short form persuasion. Companies use persuasion in the form of type and brand identity. Advertisements much catch attention over the chaos of competing ads via print, television and internet.

Contrast

Everything that exists appears to have an opposite. Much of our language and even thinking is based on the concept of differentiation, or placing things into dualities. Contrast is a basic part of human perception.

In typography, contrast is used to give the sense that items are different and stand apart. The type can be serifed, italic, bold, and placed next to a line break so that the black type stands out against the white background. Contrast is why the headline is the most important part of any message.

Whatever you are creating, be it painting, logo or print media, visual conflict is an element that will catch the viewers attention.

Balance

Balance is the act of creating with the right amount of unity and contrast. Until you have created that balance, its a matter of guess work. That’s why it is o.k. to make mistakes, getting it wrong first until you achieve balance in your design.

Designer of the week: Edward Benguiat

Benguiat

Benguiat Portrait

Typographer Biography: Edward Benguiat

Edward Benguiat, born on October 27, 1927, is a designer who has created many well known typographical designs. Born in Brooklyn, New York, his father worked at Bloomingdale’s as a display director and at the age of 9, began to learn the tools of the trade from his father. Before WWII, he began an interest in music and percussion will led to a love of Jazz. He enlisted in the Army during WWII and afterwords started his music career and gained popularity as a Progressive Jazz Musician. Edward later would say how graphic design and typography is comparable to the rhythm of music composition (Halperin, 2000). With his strong music background, he then used his GI Bill and enrolled into the Workshop School of Advertising Art. He became Paul Standards’ understudy. Edward would go on to have a successful career as a Designer and Art Director. He partnered with Ed Ronthaler and created Photo-lettering Inc.

Career Highlights

In 1953 he was an associate director of Esquire magazine. In 1962 he would go on to start is own New York design studio. Edward has been very influential in the typography world. He helped establish the international type face association, the first independent licensing company for type designers which aimed to market type design to the industry. This led to a growth in the type industry in the 1960’s. His first ITC Project was Souvenir. Condensed, and many more. Ed continues to create typefaces for ITC, including the recent Edwardian.

Ed created or re-designed many well known logos including Esquire, Mcalls, The New York Times, and The San Diego Tribune, among many others. He is still very active and design, and having been a prolific designer since the 1960’s he has seen the change and growth in the design industry. He has said that “Too many people think that they’ve got a Mac and they can draw a logo or a typeface. You have to learn to draw first. The computer won’t do it for you” (Halperin, 2000)

Edward received the Gold Medal of excellence from the New York Type Directors Club as well as the Frederick W. Goudy award. He currently does lectures around the world and since 1962, has been an instructor at The School of Visual Arts.

Typography

Edward is credited with the creation of over 600 typefaces (Strizver, 2006) He created the typefaces Tiffany, Benguiat, Benguiat Gothic, Korinna, Panache, Modern No. 216, Bookman, Caslon No. 225, Barcelona, and Avante Garde. ITC Souvenir is based on Souvenir by Morris Fuller Fenton which was originally a single weight typeface, Ed added additional weights and italics . It was redrawn by Benguiat in 1967 for the Photo-lettering Corporation. ITC Benguiat is a decorative serif typeface released in 1978 and is based the typefaces of the Art Nouveau period. He continues to work on typefaces for ITC and his more recent font is Edwardian Script.

 scriptpage

References

Strizver, I. (2006). Type rules!: The designer’s guide to professional typography (2nd ed.). Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley.

Font Designer – Edward Benguiat. (n.d.). Retrieved January 24, 2015, from http://www.linotype.com/1515/edwardbenguiat.html

Halperin, E. (2000, January 1). Edward Benguiat. Retrieved January 24, 2015, from http://adcglobal.org/hall-of-fame/edward-benguiat/

ITC Benguiat. (2015, January 1). Retrieved January 24, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ITC_Benguiat

Souvenir (typeface). (n.d.). Retrieved January 24, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Souvenir_(typeface)

Ed Benguiat. (n.d.). Retrieved January 24, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Benguiat

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Basic programming vocab for designers

As a designer, its not expected that you have a extensive and complete knowledge of programming but having a fundamental understanding of programming is helpful and even essential for those in web design. Here are some of the concepts that you will find in almost all programming languages.

Variables

Variables are used to store data and set values. Variables typically have an identifying name and value. (such as x = 3) This is similar to the concept of variables in math.

Arrays

Similar in concept to variables, arrays can hold many variables under a single name.

Syntax

The syntax of a programming language is the set of rules that govern the structure. Think of the syntax as the words and grammar of the language itself.

Conditional Statements

Conditional statements (sometimes called conditionals) are used to make decisions based on certain conditions. For example a conditional can allow JavaScript to perform an action if a variable is greater than or equal to “3”.

Loops

Loops repeat a defined set of code over and over. They are usually paired with conditions to ensure they don’t loop forever.

Functions

A function is a block of code that does something. For example, the prompt function displays a dialog box asking for user input.

A great way to learn some of these concepts is through Code Combat, which is controlled through writing simple code.

Visit CODE COMBAT to have fun learning basic code.

Demistifying Javascript

JavaScript is a programming language made for web browsers which was initially made for basic image display, text and data but in the 1990’s Netscape developed it into what you see today. It is a language that allows web developers to make all manner of user friendly web items  possible. It allows for a  dynamic and user friendly experience. It handles complex procedures in the online environment such as making live feeds of sports updates and validating user data.

You may be familiar with HTML and CSS. HTML is a markup language. Unlike a markup language which is excellent at organizing elements, Java Script adds a bit more bang for your buck as it is a programming language which means it has more capabilities then HTML.  JavaScript can not only tell the browser how to arrange the web elements, just like HTLM,  but it can interact with the browser in such a way that it is more like a conversation with the browser, rather then just a set of instructions.

As a programming language, JavaScript is based on logic, algorithms and math. Even though this may seem like it is outside the arena of graphic designers, if you want to get into web design, it is important to understand how to implement programming languages such as JavaScript to create awesome functionality to websites.

JavaScript is converted into machine code and interpreted by the web browser. This was initially a major issue in the 1990’s, as each browser interpreted JavaScript differently and some elements would not work properly from one browser to the next. JavaScript requires a browser to convert the script into something workable.

Hopefully this brief overview was helpful in demystifying JavaScript.

 

First Things First 2000 a design manifesto

First Things First 2000
a design manifesto

manifesto published jointly by 33 signatories in:
Adbusters, the AIGA journal, Blueprint, Emigre, Eye, Form, Items
fall 1999 / spring 2000

We, the undersigned, are graphic designers, art directors and visual communicators who have been raised in a world in which the techniques and apparatus of advertising have persistently been presented to us as the most lucrative, effective and desirable use of our talents. Many design teachers and mentors promote this belief; the market rewards it; a tide of books and publications reinforces it.

Encouraged in this direction, designers then apply their skill and imagination to sell dog biscuits, designer coffee, diamonds, detergents, hair gel, cigarettes, credit cards, sneakers, butt toners, light beer and heavy-duty recreational vehicles. Commercial work has always paid the bills, but many graphic designers have now let it become, in large measure, what graphic designers do. This, in turn, is how the world perceives design. The profession’s time and energy is used up manufacturing demand for things that are inessential at best.

Many of us have grown increasingly uncomfortable with this view of design. Designers who devote their efforts primarily to advertising, marketing and brand development are supporting, and implicitly endorsing, a mental environment so saturated with commercial messages that it is changing the very way citizen-consumers speak, think, feel, respond and interact. To some extent we are all helping draft a reductive and immeasurably harmful code of public discourse.

There are pursuits more worthy of our problem-solving skills. Unprecedented environmental, social and cultural crises demand our attention. Many cultural interventions, social marketing campaigns, books, magazines, exhibitions, educational tools, television programs, films, charitable causes and other information design projects urgently require our expertise and help.

We propose a reversal of priorities in favor of more useful, lasting and democratic forms of communication – a mindshift away from product marketing and toward the exploration and production of a new kind of meaning. The scope of debate is shrinking; it must expand. Consumerism is running uncontested; it must be challenged by other perspectives expressed, in part, through the visual languages and resources of design.

In 1964, 22 visual communicators signed the original call for our skills to be put to worthwhile use. With the explosive growth of global commercial culture, their message has only grown more urgent. Today, we renew their manifesto in expectation that no more decades will pass before it is taken to heart.
signed:

Jonathan Barnbrook
Nick Bell
Andrew Blauvelt
Hans Bockting
Irma Boom
Sheila Levrant de Bretteville
Max Bruinsma
Siân Cook
Linda van Deursen
Chris Dixon
William Drenttel
Gert Dumbar
Simon Esterson
Vince Frost
Ken Garland
Milton Glaser
Jessica Helfand
Steven Heller
Andrew Howard
Tibor Kalman
Jeffery Keedy
Zuzana Licko
Ellen Lupton
Katherine McCoy
Armand Mevis
J. Abbott Miller
Rick Poynor
Lucienne Roberts
Erik Spiekermann
Jan van Toorn
Teal Triggs
Rudy VanderLans
Bob Wilkinson

First Things First 1964 a manifesto

First Things First 1964
a manifesto

We, the undersigned, are graphic designers, photographers and students who have been brought up in a world in which the techniques and apparatus of advertising have persistently been presented to us as the most lucrative, effective and desirable means of using our talents. We have been bombarded with publications devoted to this belief, applauding the work of those who have flogged their skill and imagination to sell such things as: cat food, stomach powders, detergent, hair restorer, striped toothpaste, aftershave lotion, beforeshave lotion, slimming diets, fattening diets, deodorants, fizzy water, cigarettes, roll-ons, pull-ons and slip-ons.

By far the greatest effort of those working in the advertising industry are wasted on these trivial purposes, which contribute little or nothing to our national prosperity.

In common with an increasing numer of the general public, we have reached a saturation point at which the high pitched scream of consumer selling is no more than sheer noise. We think that there are other things more worth using our skill and experience on. There are signs for streets and buildings, books and periodicals, catalogues, instructional manuals, industrial photography, educational aids, films, television features, scientific and industrial publications and all the other media through which we promote our trade, our education, our culture and our greater awareness of the world.

We do not advocate the abolition of high pressure consumer advertising: this is not feasible. Nor do we want to take any of the fun out of life. But we are proposing a reversal of priorities in favour of the more useful and more lasting forms of communication. We hope that our society will tire of gimmick merchants, status salesmen and hidden persuaders, and that the prior call on our skills will be for worthwhile purposes. With this in mind we propose to share our experience and opinions, and to make them available to colleagues, students and others who may be interested.

signed:

Edward Wright
Geoffrey White
William Slack
Caroline Rawlence
Ian McLaren
Sam Lambert
Ivor Kamlish
Gerald Jones
Bernard Higton
Brian Grimbly
John Garner
Ken Garland
Anthony Froshaug
Robin Fior
Germano Facetti
Ivan Dodd
Harriet Crowder
Anthony Clift
Gerry Cinamon
Robert Chapman
Ray Carpenter
Ken Briggs

Graphic Designers of the 1950’s to 1970’s

Paul Rand
Well known for his timeless and iconic logos. His work illustrates how some logos can withstand the test of time. If you’d like some more insights into Rand’s thoughts on design watch this supplemental video.

Paul Rand Logos

George Lois
George Lois is the mastermind behind a number of timeless advertising campaigns, logo designs, and design concepts. Many of the pieces in this gallery contain supplemental commentary.

George Lois Ad

Herb Lubalin
Herb Lubalin puts an emphasis on concept in his logo work. In addition to his design work, Lubalin is also known for his typefaces, including Avant Garde.

Lubalin Logos

Milton Glaser
Known for the iconic  “I Love NY” logo. A celebrated designer whose work includes logos, magazines, packaging, and more.

Milton Logo

Importance of a strong portfolio and how to strengthen it

As a Graphic Design student you may ask yourself pressing questions such as “How do I go about finding a job?” Students close to graduation often have no design experience beyond the academic so how do you find a job in a creative field?  Everyone has to start somewhere, and successfully defining that starting point is key.

The Portfolio

The importance of the portfolio cannot be stressed enough; it is a showcase of the creative professional’s ability. This applies to all creative professionals in the visual arts, from freelancers to in-house designers.

The resume is a list of skills, but the portfolio demonstrates these skills. Professionalism in a portfolio is an absolute must: but what does this mean?

Steps Towards a Stronger Portfolio

Consider the following when crafting a plan for an initial portfolio or for a portfolio review:

  • All portfolio pieces should be professionally presented, both individually and collectively. This means clear, crisp imagery that highlights the work. Do not allow low resolution imagery, visible errors, or poor photography distract from the work.
  • Portfolio pieces should be recent and relevant to the creative professional’s focus. If a creative professional is pursuing a web design position, package design examples are not going to exhibit the proficiency that the employer or client is looking for. There is nothing wrong with strategically preparing a portfolio; this is the professional’s opportunity to show that they’re a good fit.
  • Student work is an acceptable inclusion, but it should be treated as a professional piece. This may mean refining work beyond the classroom.
  • Self-initiated projects are also an acceptable portfolio addition. This is a great opportunity to showcase your creative potential, ideas, and execution.
  • Note that a portfolio is not necessarily a timeline of work. It is a showcase of your best work, not of all your work.
  • Include design narratives, briefly explaining the project (e.g., dimensions, date, any outside resources). Process is often important.
  • Consider the most appropriate delivery method for the applicable creative focus. A website? A PDF? A printed portfolio?

The Next Steps

After fine tuning the portfolio and branding one’s resume, it’s time to start applying. This can vary, depending on career goals. It can include finding an agent, applying to live job listings, and searching for clients.

Think from the employer or client’s perspective. Would you hire a professional with a lackluster portfolio? What would you want to see? It’s important to view one’s work without rose tinted glasses; there is always room for improvement. Ask other creative professionals for honest opinions, and take their criticism seriously. Improvement is a strong step towards professional advancement.