Desktop with scissors, tape and sticky notes, Jo Szczepanska, Unsplash

How good content influences great design

Content and design are intertwined – the content we are given to work with influences the overall look and feel of a final product. So what do we mean by content?

Content is all the components that we need to work with to pull a design together — narrative copy, as well as visual elements like logos, images, graphics or other visual items (graphs, infographics or illustrations).  

When we take on a design project, the content elements are often not completed yet, but they’re key to the design process. We’re usually given general parameters at the early stages of a project, like a table of contents, the subject matter, or the type of imagery and visual elements envisioned, to help us get the creative ideas flowing. Clients use their imagination and take a leap of faith with us to envision the end product and how the content and design will come together.

Let’s explore each content element and what we need to produce beautiful designs efficiently and, most importantly, within client budgets, timelines and quality expectations. 

Copy

  • Copy can be as short as a one-line call-to-action and a URL, or as lengthy as a multi-page document with charts and graphs
  • Regardless of the length, it’s ideal for us to receive final content to work with from the beginning, meaning content has been written, edited and approved on the client side, and no more changes or additions are needed or expected
  • Once we’ve designed and delivered a first draft, we always expect some minor content edits, and we can account for those in our budget and schedule when planning review and feedback rounds
  • However, when there are major content changes, or more content ends up being added, there’s a domino effect — we have to change the content layout, which often impacts whether or not visual elements still work as planned, and spend more time and budget to rework the design — not an ideal scenario, especially when working on a tight schedule or lean budget 

Logos, graphics and other elements

  • When we’re working with visual elements that we haven’t designed ourselves, we need them to be the best quality possible so we can apply them in different ways
  • Brand or company logos should be delivered as vector files (PDF, EPS, SVG, etc), and in various formats, if needed, (i.e. black and white or reversed), along with graphic standards documents, to ensure we use the brand according to set standards 
  • When logos and other elements aren’t delivered in the ideal formats, we end up going back to the client to request high-quality elements (which they sometimes need to chase from other sources), which can become time consuming, and in some cases, require us to add to the scope of the project estimate
  • In some cases, we may need to redesign some elements (ex. a chart, diagram, icons, infographics or illustrations) if the original high resolution file can not be found or used — we’re happy to do this for an additional fee

Photographic Images 

  • The ownership of images must always be clear and transparent, to ensure image creators are given credit for their work — this means we include photo credits either in an acknowledgments area, or in photo captions
  • Some projects require original photography, and clients commission original photos and manage the process; when possible, we appreciate the opportunity to provide input on the images required to make a design pop 
  • When sourcing images from photo stock websites, we often help with the photo selection process and aim for clients to make the image purchase, so they can administer the purchase and avoid us having to bill for that time 
  • Trying to make low-quality images work — such as low-resolution images, images with bad lighting, or cropping issues — can be a challenge and impact the time (and budget) we spent working with the client to get higher-res images, fixing images, or sourcing image replacements 

We’re always eager to talk content and start dreaming of our next design challenge. Do you have a project you’d like to start envisioning with us? Get in touch with us today!