CLASS 2 | May 4th

Today we are looking at the design process, the different steps and the basic terminology used in visual design (with a sprinkling of communication theory). Before we get into the delights of exploring techniques and putting them to use, it is fundamental to gain an understanding of the foundational process behind designing.

To complete for this online class:
• Carefully read through the content below.
• Ask any questions or share your thoughts/insights via the Facebook group.
•  Complete Assignment #1.


This quote is a great summation: Design is problem solving, planning, communications and execution.


Here is an example of  a neat diagram illustrating the Graphic design process.

Many place the value and focus on production in design, when it is rather one of the final steps. Research and  idea development are the most important, as this is where you formulate your direction and define your concept that meets the needs of your audience and fits within the parameters of the project.

Here are some common terms used in the steps of the Design Process:


• Define the Design objective >specific to project, are you promoting, directing, enhancing, informing.

• Define the communication objective > what is the main message?
What is an objective: the end result/ effect you wish to create with your design eg: sell a product, change a perspective/attitude, inform, direct etc.

• Define the target audience > Who are you speaking to? narrow or broad.
What is a target audience: the group of people you are communicating with, of a specific age, location, income bracket, attitude, religious standing, etc. The people to whom you are focusing your message towards> whom you want to engage. VERY important, without an audience focus, your message is lost in the noise.

• Research> know your subject, their cultural + social references, become an expert on them. One of the most undervalued phases of the design process, yet the most imperative. Know your product/message/source, your audience, your media options, the best placement for the message for the most access to your audience, the competition etc.


• Brainstorm potential ideas > conceptualize! team work.
What is a concept: the combination of the form and the functionality of a message, that produces an often unique, but most importantly engaging and appropriate communication that captures your audience and has a lasting, meaningful effect….towards achieving the objective.

• Choose the right media and venue > tv, radio, digital, print: billboards, mags, books etc.


• Develop a graphic design strategy > plan for production to meet the established deadline.

• Produce the design using your technical skills, use of tools and within the defined specifications defined at the start.


• Evaluate decisions as you go and take creative risks

• Test results on audience to evaluate effective function and if the objective has been met.


It is also valuable to clearly define the differences between Graphic Design and art. This slide puts it in simple terms.


A cool poster design by Timoni West about a Teddy Shinders painting. She is visually communicating the differences between art and Design in this poster.


Lets step really quickly into some Communication Theory to give you an intro to message communication to fully understand the manners in which we approach ‘design problems’ to find appropriate solutions, and the value of research and concept development to meet our objectives effectively.

Is the communicator, the sender, the client/ the designer
(Needs to research the AUDIENCE and their context to know the best approach to deliver the message to ensure maximum receptivity and create intended effect) 

The language used, aesthetic approach, visual presentation, clarity , accessibility, understandability.

The method and medium used to communicate the speech or message, the manner in which it is distributed/delivered.

The receptivity of the audience depends on their context and culture, ideals, values, impressions and feedback…which in turn will highly influence how the message is received and the effect it creates…which is our ultimate goal as designers…to create a very particular effect. Individual cultural and psychological differences affect the success of a communications interpretation.

A message needs to be clearly communicated and easy to access to be received/read/interpreted effectively to create the desired effect

These models show there are many factors to consider when communicating a message

The audience culture, language, values, needs and attitudes need to becarefully considered at the early stages of research and ideation to ensure the effect we are trying to achieve or the problem we are trying to solve, is successful.


Also, when we design anything,  it is important to consider and be aware that our personal preconceptions, experiences, opinions, knowledge and aesthetic or content preferences directly effects the message and how it is created and communicated, which then again directly influences how the audience will interpret, read, understand the message. This can severely alter the success of it meeting the OBJECTIVE > the function. This is again clarifying the differences between art and design. Art is self expressive and for YOU. Design is created to meet the needs of an AUDIENCE.


The two main qualities of any design that gives it a ‘look’ and a purpose, are FORM and FUNCTION.

These two factors are imperative to a successful design and need to work symbiotically together to create a well designed outcome. We are looking primarily at form and how the qualities of form work with each other in this class, however, the function of form is even more important, and should always be very carefully considered. Without function, a form is purposeless.

Form: visual appeal, Aesthetic predominant, looks good, attraction at first sight, style, trendy, emotionally appealing, effects memorization. This includes shape, colour, texture, tone, type, medium: print, form, placement etc.etc.

Function: Facts (bare), usability centered, cost effective (no frills), communicates purpose clearly and without visual noise, utilitarian. Content, message.


Keep this relationship in mind with whatever you design, and your work will have meaning as well as be aesthetically appealing. Some projects involve more of one, than the other, but they are both to be present in any design to acheive objectives effectively, on various levels.


All the info that has been presented to you today is the beginnings of introducing you to what is called Visual language: the system of communication using visual elements.

The visual language developed for any one design should be carefully considered to most effectively communicate with the audience.

TO DO’s | For Next class Due 1pm Tuesday May 9th

• Share your thoughts, insights or questions on the content presented above, via the Facebook Group. (this is part of your class participation grade)

• Assignment #1: (Title it: Your name | Assignment #1)
You can choose to do one of the following:

1) Think about the “design process” you have personally used or currently use to look at a challenge or problem and work towards a solution/outcome.
Share in 300 words how you think it works well, and areas you have experienced it not working well. Explain why through an example.
IMAGE:  (jpeg or png)
Sketch out this process in a diagram or mind map using a fine tip black pen on blank white paper. Use as many illustrations as possible and as few words as possible. Take a photo of it with your phone and include in your post.


2) Research and share another form of process (maybe used in another industry) that is new to you, and applied to tackle a challenge and result in a solution.
Share in 300 words where you think it may work well, and areas you think may have flaws. Explain why through an example.
IMAGE: (jpeg or png)
Find an image of it or sketch out this process in a diagram or mind map using a fine tip black pen on blank white paper. Use as many illustrations as possible and as few words as possible. Take a photo of it with your phone and include in your post.

• *Show and Tell Presentations: Sharon and Pam each prepare for next week Tuesday May 9th.