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Design For Your Audience

Taste is subjective. If you get ten people in a room and ask them about their favorite colors, patterns, styles, and aesthetics, you are going to get ten different answers. Good design, however, isn’t as subjective as many people think.

Good design isn’t so much about what your audience likes as it is creating an experience that engages them — consciously or subconsciously. A good example of this is a very specific profession within the auto industry. Did you know that there are acoustic engineers whose job is to make sure everything in a car sounds right? They make sure doors open and close with an appropriately mechanical click so you know they shut. They may even pump in artificial engine noise so you get a more visceral response when you push the pedal down.  None of these changes affect the performance or even basic functionality of the car, but they provide an overall better user experience.

The question of “what is going to give my audience the best experience?” needs to be asked at virtually every step of the design process — from concept to completion. 

Fonts

Choosing a font is much more than a simple aesthetic decision. Yes, big blocky letters feel stoic and official while flowing script fonts are whimsical, but there are some practical implications to what kind of font you choose as well.

Serif fonts (the ones with the little tails on the ends of the letters) actually pull the reader’s eye through the copy faster and more easily than sans serif fonts, especially when the writing needs to be smaller. So, when writing body copy, choose a serif font that will make it easier on your readers.

Color & Accessibility

It’s important that everyone be able to use your website. Not only is it good for business, but there are also specific guidelines set up by the ADA to ensure that people with disabilities can use the internet as well as everyone else.

One of the biggest considerations for designers is the contrast between the background and the font. If the two colors are too similar, it will become impossible for certain people to read them. A smart designer will also take into consideration the various types of color blindness that exist and create a site that won’t be completely useless to 300 million people

A collection of adaptive products

We recently got the opportunity to help create National Seating & Mobility’s first print magazine: Made to Move. This magazine is full of inspiring stories, practical tips, and useful products for people of all levels of ability. Here is the magazine centerfold, a section where we reached out to brands that are championing accessibility and featured their forward-thinking products.

People want to see themselves

If you have the budget, it’s almost always better to take your own photography. However, that’s not always possible with resource restrictions. There are lots of good options for stock photography out there, but you want to make sure you’re choosing the right images.

Make sure your audience can see themselves buying your product, using your service, or engaging with your brand. One way to do that is by ensuring you have a diverse group of people represented in your imagery. If everyone in your photos looks the same, then people who don’t fit that category might believe your brand isn’t for them.

For products, always mix lifestyle shots with product shots as well. It’s nice to see what something looks like on a pedestal in perfect lighting, but seeing what it looks like out in the real world can help people envision using it. 

Good design is essential

It takes the average person only 50 milliseconds to decide if they like a website or not. It doesn’t matter how good your writing is or how compelling your offer may be if visitors never see it. And a good design is only as strong as its weakest link. Everything has to work together in harmony to create a beautiful website that invites people in. It’s a hard thing to pull off.

The same is true for ads, in-store collateral, or special projects like the NSM magazine. Despite the saying, people absolutely judge a book by its cover, and it is up to you to make sure your design is doing everything it can to draw your audience in and connect with them.

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