Do you wish that you were better equipped to visually communicate your organization's story?
Online and offline, marketing is highly visual, and graphic design - even at its most basic level - is a skill every nonprofit communicator should have.
Looking at lots of real-world examples from nonprofit organizations, we'll go over the fundamentals of visual communication and how to apply the principles of good design to your work in order to communicate more clearly and effectively.
This webinar is most suitable for those tasked with doing design work but have little to no training, or those directing other people to design materials.
- Learn basic principles of graphic design
- Learn how to “speak” the language of graphic design to colleagues
- Resources you can use later to learn more
Note: this workshop does not include software training.
Additional materials for Let’s Get Visual! Basic Graphic Design Principles for the Creatively-Impaired
Download the audio here: Let's Get Visual! Basic Graphic Design Principles for the Creatively Impaired (MP3)
Download the slides here: Let's Get Visual with Julia Reich (PDF)
Possible Grid Layouts can be found at http://www.creativebloq.com/netmag/create-balanced-page-layouts-7-pro-tips-121310009
The Transcript from "Let's Get Visual! Basic Graphic Design Principles for the Creatively-Impaired
Marc: Well, good afternoon everyone. Welcome to the next Nonprofit Academy Presents seminar, webinar. I am thrilled to be here. I was telling somebody last week when I was in Boston, I said to one of our Nonprofit Academy members, I got to be with at a live event with her, and I said, "Boy, the next webinar looks really good." And then I realized it was on graphic design, and it cracked me up.
Just a few housekeeping things before we get under . . . let Julia tell us how to do this well, the hashtag for the webinar, as always, is right there on the title slide, #npapresents. If you have questions, feel free to tweet them with that hashtag. I'm monitoring that. You could try using Facebook also, if you wanted to, or emailing me, marc@fundraisingcoach. However you want to ask questions, our question and answers on the control panel, GoToWebinar control panel on your, usually on the right side of your screen. There's a questions part and there's a chat part. I will be monitoring those and interjecting those as appropriate with Julia as she goes throughout the presentation.
I am really excited to have Julia here, because branding is one of those things . . . I love visual impact. I love . . . the people consider our credibility as a nonprofit based on our visual look. They do judge books by their cover. It's not right, necessarily, but we can also really help our cause and the people that we're helping by the way we present ourselves and put ourselves forward. And I'm psyched that Julia Reich is here to show us how to do that, even for the creatively challenged.
Julia is a certified expert brand consultant. Her firm is Stone Soup Creative. And one of the neat things that makes her stand out is that not only is she a branding expert, but she knows our sector. She knows nonprofits, and foundations, and educational cultural institutions. She gets this in a way that I'm excited to have you get it, too.
So I'm not even going to . . . there's so much you can do . . . you can learn more about her by going to StoneSoupCreative.com. Definitely sign up for her email list. But Julia, I am just thrilled that you're here, and I'd like to give the time over to you, because you have more interesting things to say than I do. Can we do that?
Julia: Well, thank you so much, Marc. That was such a really nice and enthusiastic introduction. I'm so happy to be here. So I'm a branding consultant. I have a graphic design background. I went to Pratt Institute. And I've been a consultant for about 15 years. And I evolved from . . . I evolved my consultancy from graphic design to branding. And so clients come to me now when maybe they want to, like, stand out more in the crowd, or they want to be differentiated more from other organizations in the sector, or they want their marketing communications to be more professional and polished.
So here's a slide that I promise is going to be the busiest slide in the whole deck. I know it's really crowded, but I just wanted to show everybody some of the logos that I've designed and the organizations that I've worked with. So the ones with the star next to them are the logos that I've designed. And I've worked in all different sectors in the nonprofit world, as you can see. But because I have a background in education, and I have a passion for food and nutrition and the environment, I do tend to work with organizations in those two sectors quite a bit.
Marc: And so for everybody listening, I asked Julia to put this slide in, because we have this propensity, in the nonprofit sector, to say, "Well, that doesn't apply to my sector," or, "Clearly you don't understand my . . . you're just talking about schools, and I'm an arts organization, or you're just talking about food, and I work with the environment."
And I wanted everyone to see that what we're going to be learning today applies to all of us where we are. And one takeaway from here is that, we'll talk about what to look for in a designer later. But when you're looking at a designer's work, notice that they seem to have fallen into a rut in design, because I may . . . that's clearly what Julia hasn't done. Which I really appreciate your putting those stars by those logos. That was really helpful.
Julia: Oh, thank you. Yeah.
Yeah, I typically work with, I guess I would say medium-sized organizations. You know, sometimes small, sometimes large, but mostly, like, medium-sized organizations.
All right, so let's get going. We are going to be talking about good design today, and how you can incorporate good design into your marketing communications. I'm going to be talking to you about several different design principles, because once you know those principles, you'll be conscious of it either in the work that you do, or if you're not directly responsible for the design at your organization, I'm sure that you're giving your feedback or talking to people who are, and you need to know what you're talking about. So you'll be able to recognize the principles when they're being used, when they're not being used, and you can apply them. And you'll be in control of your own pages and your own layouts.
So here's my take on nonprofits and graphic design. I think nonprofits tend to be very focused on content. They have a lot to say. They have a lot to communicate. They often use a lot of text. So I think that these principles and elements of graphic design that I'm going to be describing today are a must for nonprofits, because the content really needs to be organized well.
Nonprofits also tend to have a limited budget, so sometimes that can lead them to compromise the design of their websites or their marketing materials. But, like Marc said earlier, I think attractive marketing materials are crucial for nonprofit organizations. There's the sentiment sometimes that maybe our marketing materials shouldn't look too polished, because then donors will think we put too much money into that. I do not adhere to that line of thinking, surprisingly. I think that good design is super important, branding is super important.
Especially if your audience is . . . if you want to attract younger audiences, the world that we live in is really sophisticated, visually. At least one side of it is.
Marc: What would the . . . I don't know if it's . . . where the studies are, but I've heard we've had 3000 to 6000 ad impressions coming at us every day.
Julia: Oh, wow.
Marc: And so we are sophisticated visually, whether we know it or not. We see a lot of this stuff. And gone are the times where people were accepted that nonprofits were kind of second-rate or duct taping things together. People expect nonprofits to have the proficiency of . . . they equate the look with the impact, unfortunately. But I think it's actually better for us if we can get our visual act together. That helps us communicate more clearly.
Julia: Right. Yeah. So the slide that we're looking at right now is by a designer named Bruno Peroni, and this was his contribution to the survivors of the 2011 Japan tsunami.
All right, so enough of that. Let's get started. We're going to jump into the four basic principles of design. I call them the CRAP principles of design. Sorry about that. I guess I could have rearranged the letters. We could have had another acronym. But this was just a really easy way to remember it. Contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity.
So I'm going to discuss them one by one, and even though I discuss them separately, they're really interconnected. Rarely will you ever just see one principle applied. So here we go.
Oh, and then I'm going to talk about the elements of design. So the elements of design are the things that make up the design, and the principles could be thought of as what we do with the elements. So the elements are line, color, shape, scale, texture, and space. They're kind of the building blocks.
Okay, so let's start with contrast. So contrast in graphic design pretty much has two purposes. You want to create interest on the page, which gets the reader to look at the page. And by page, I mean it could be an online page, it could be a printed page. And it also aids in the organization of information. So a reader should understand the logical flow of one item to another.
And the idea behind contrast is to avoid elements on the page that are nearly similar. So if the elements are not the same, then make them very different. And by elements, I mean type, color, size, line thickness, shape, etcetera. Because if they're only sort of different, then you have conflict. You don't have contrast.
So let's look at some examples so you can see what I'm talking about. The first example is a design that I think is lacking contrast. So why is this lacking contrast? What kind of contrast is it lacking?
Marc: Well, it kind of all blends into one monotone.
Julia: Yeah, exactly. This is a lack of color contrast, and it's especially important to have contrast especially if you’re going down a highway in a car. So this is a billboard fail. You can't really see it very well. Here's another example of bad contrast. And this is bad, it's actually a great product. I use this every day.
Marc: Yeah, I do, too.
Julia: But, why is this bad?
Marc: I would say it's way too busy.
Julia: Yeah, it's crazy busy, and they've kind of built their famous brand around this crazy business. So we could argue that. But there's no contrast in the size of the text, and there's too much text, so that there's no hierarchy of information. And you can't really instantly look at this and know what's going on. Here's another example of an email newsletter . . .
Marc: Actually, okay, if . . . yeah. I was going to say that . . .
Julia: Go back?
Marc: Yeah, yeah. This looks like a lot of nonprofit fundraising newsletters. Or letters. Fundraising letters. A block of text that just kind of turns into a visual gray that's undifferentiated, and you don't know . . . yeah. There's nothing calling itself out, so . . .
Julia: Right, right. Exactly.
Marc: That's very interesting.
Julia: Exactly. So that's actually a perfect segue to this example, which is an email newsletter from an organization called New York Insight Meditation Center. And I worked with them on their branding, so their stuff no longer looks like this.
But, what's the problem here? It's a lot of what Marc was just saying. There's just too much text that's kind of running together. The lines of text are too long to read comfortably. And there's really nothing to draw your eye into the text. I mean, they have that headline at the top here. I'll use my cursor here. It's in a different color, and it's a little bit bigger and bolder, but it's not enough.
So if you remember when I said if it's different, really make it different. This isn't really different enough. It needs to be much bigger.
So I would suggest, for them, that they make that headline bigger. Maybe they use two columns of text, or a narrower column of text. They can pull out key phrases. Maybe, like, as a pull quote. And that's a contrast that will attract the eye.
Marc: So contrasts are to attract the eye? Is that part of it?
Julia: Yeah, exactly.
Julia: Exactly. That's what draws you in, when you see that contrast. And I'm going to show you this example of a newsletter that I did not design, but I found online. And I just think that, you know, in comparison to the previous one, you know, I think this one's pretty successful.
Julia: Because do you see how your eye is really drawn . . . like, my eye goes right to "Match your gift dollar for dollar." that's the first thing I see. And you're almost, like, forced to read that.
Marc: Yeah. Because even if you look at the kid's face, you go back up to the words, because there's nothing to read in the face. That's interesting.
Julia: Right. Right. And then once your eye is drawn to that really big, colorful text, it's almost like you're forced to read the rest of it. There isn't that much there. There's not a lot going on.
Marc: Well, that's a good point, too, isn't it?
Julia: All right, so here's another example of contrast. This is the James Beard Foundation logo.
Marc: Oh, I love it.
Julia: They're using color as a contrast, successfully, in this cool way. It's clever.
Marc: Any question what they do? That's great. Are you still there?
Julia: And then here's another example. I'm sorry it's so blurry. But this is a poster that's done by Paula Scher. She's a famous graphic designer. And I'm going to show you a few examples from her later on in the slide show. She's just a master, and I just love the contrast here between kind of the blocky text, the text blocks, and just this dynamic, organic movement of the figure dancing in the background.
And even though the text is blocky, it's positioned in such a way that it's dynamic, as well.
Marc: How do you mean?
Julia: It's staggered, you know?
Julia: So you get this feeling of movement. And some of it's bigger than others.
Julia: All right, so that's the section on contrast. Any questions before I move on to repetition?
Marc: Let me check. Looks like we're . . . people are . . . there. They're taking notes.
Julia: Okay. So keep going?
Marc: Go for it.
Julia: Okay, so repetition is about repeating some aspect of the design throughout your entire piece. And that could be, like, a bold font for a headline, or a certain bullet style, a color, a rule. By "rule," I mean line. Or something like that.
And another word for repetition is "consistency." And, I'm sure that you already do this in your materials. But I think what beginners to design need to do is push this even further. So turn that inconspicuous repetition into almost, like, a visual key that ties the piece together. It's more of a conscious effort to unify all parts of the design, and it makes a more professional look between all those elements.
So here's an example that I found online. I didn't do this one. But it's a campaign for something called the Shiloh Christian School in Northwest Arkansas, and they did this whole campaign that included printed handouts, direct mail pieces, advertisements, web graphics. This was done by Adair Creative Group. And I just think that they're super consistent in the way that they've presented all the pieces of their campaign. Everything looks like it goes together, it's tied together.
Marc: That's so important. Yeah, I don't know. I know you've seen this, but a lot of the nonprofits that are part of the academy and that I've worked with have . . . when they've done some sort of audit of communications stuff within the different departments or programs or whatever, there's such a wide variety. Everything from people just trying to do a duct taped together thing with Comic Sans font to people that actually have brand style guidelines to . . . all within the same organization.
Julia: Yeah. I see it all the time, too.
Marc: So this is refreshing to see.
Julia: Yeah, yeah. A lot of times when I work with clients, at one point during the process I'll say, "Let's get all the communications together and look at them side by side on a table." And . . .
Julia: That can be really eye-opening.
Marc: That's what I was going to say, too. It must have been eye-opening. Wow. Because then you just think, "What are we sending to the people we're trying to talk to?" Whether it's clients, donors, whatever. What kind of message are we sending when we're that fragmented ourselves, internally? Wow.
Julia: Yeah. And the fragmentation, it happens for a good reason. I mean, maybe it's just . . . for a lot of different reasons. But it's very common. Let's say the organization's been around for a long time. There's, like, a parent brand. It could be kind of old and stodgy.
Julia: Then you've got, like, the program people, and they're, like, on the ground, and they want to get something going, so they kind of create their own materials. So, I mean, there can be that disconnect.
Marc: Definitely. That's true.
Julia: Yeah. All right, well, here's another example for a project that I did for the Association of Art Museum Directors. There were two different reports, and one of them was 96 pages long, and the other one was 53 pages long. But they're related. They're called "Next Practices." One was in art museum education, and the other one was next practices in digital and technology.
And the only reason I wanted to show this is just to show sort of the consistent use of repetition of various elements in the design. So you know when you open up this 96-page report, or . . . yeah, it's a report. You'll know that Page 5 and Page 55, are going to look really similar. It's all going to look like it comes from the same report. And then it's the same from report to report.
Even though the colors are different, the drop cap with the M and the T, that big drop cap, that's going to be the same. The horizontal rule at the bottom in the footer, that's going to be the same. We've got . . .
Marc: Okay, so the drop cap is that first big letter of the paragraph under the picture?
Marc: Okay, cool.
Julia: Yeah, yeah. Where it says, "Most first-time visitors," on the left, and on the right it says, "The National Museum of Art." Sorry, I didn't mean to use too much lingo.
Marc: No, the lingo is helpful, because when we're talking to people, they can take us more seriously. When we can use some of those. Good.
Julia: Yeah. And then here's another example from a client that I worked with a few years ago called Food Systems Network New York City. And this is a different kind of repetition, where I designed the logo, and then I used part of the logo in the background as a repeating element. So it's almost like a watermark. So you can't see the whole logo, but it's a graphic element that gets repeated. And it ties it all together.
Julia: So one note of caution about repetition is that you want to avoid repeating the elements so much that it becomes annoying or overwhelming.
Marc: Do you have an example of that?
Julia: I do.
Marc: Yay. Oh.
Julia: So this is from the 1968 Mexico Olympics, and . . .
Marc: I just have to put my hand in front of the screen. That's hurt, that's painful.
Julia: I know. I know. So at that time in our history, op art was a thing that was really popular. And, you know, it's like trying to provoke the viewer, I think. I can talk a little bit about this because my husband's an art historian, so when I asked him for an example of painful repetition, he said op art. And then I found this image. I was like, whoa, I don't even want to look at this. I just want to squint and keep going.
But, I think that for their part, at that time, they were probably trying to evoke a sense of fast, dynamic motion.
Marc: So this is where . . . this reminds me of an art gallery we had at our hospital, where we had this . . . just we could sell it and would fund art in our hospital. And I had to tell one artist, one artist had just gorgeous, thought-provoking art, but one of the pieces that was lined up right outside of the X-ray department looked, to a number of patients leaving the X-ray department, like a dead spirit raising from an inner body.
Marc: Yeah. And that's not really the healing environment that we wanted to promote at the hospital. So I actually had to . . . and we got some complaints, and so I actually had to ask this artist to close it . . . to take down the art. And it was hard, but the wording I came up with was, "We, if we were having an art gallery, this would be perfect. It's provoking conversation. But we don't. We're a hospital, and this art is supposed to be more of the background music at a cocktail party. So it's not supposed to be front and center. I could recommend you to a couple of art galleries in town. I think you'd do well there. And I'm really sorry, because I've loved the conversation generated."
But I guess we could say that about our nonprofit arts, too. It's not . . . unless we're consciously choosing to provoke conversation with our art, with our graphics and visual design, it has to be a conscious choice. It can't be because we've kind of backed into it by committee votes, right?
Julia: Yeah. And you have to really consider your audience. Is it going to be appropriate for who you're trying to reach?
Marc: Absolutely. Because there are some audiences that would be just like, "Wow, this is so groovy, dude. We should . . . yeah, this is good." Okay. Nice.
Julia: All right, so let's move on so you don't have to look at this slide anymore.
Marc: Thank you.
Julia: And we'll talk about alignment. So now we're at the A in CRAP. Many designers, I think, tend to put the content on the page wherever there happens to be space. So text here, graphics there. And they don't sometimes think about what other items are on the page.
So we don't want anything to be put on the page arbitrarily, because that becomes messy. We want to use alignment so that everything has a visual connection with everything else. And it creates a cohesive unit, and it creates order.
So to illustrate this concept, I went through my stack of business cards in my drawer, right here next to my desk, and I found this card, because when I moved here, I needed to get a fence built in my yard. And I'm sorry for the bad photograph, but this is a bad photograph of a bad business card. Okay, it's not horrible, all right? There are some things going for it.
So what's going for this card? You know, what are some good things about this card?
Marc: Well, I was told at one point that that black headline with the white font is a good use of calling . . . drawing someone's eye to stuff.
Julia: Contrast. It's got good contrast.
Marc: Thank you. That was the word.
Julia: Yeah, it does.
Marc: The C in CRAP.
Julia: I agree. I agree.
Marc: Okay. And maybe with the fuzzy thing behind the letters also help . . . the fuzzy outline, the white outline, help the contrast, too?
Julia: Oh, yeah, I guess so. They did put, like a blurry white shadow behind the text so that you could read it against that photograph.
Marc: I'm just digging, though. I don't know what else . . .
Marc: What do you see going for it?
Julia: Well, the photograph . . . it's a nice touch that they have a photograph.
Marc: Is it?
Julia: But, okay, that's about it. I think we've . . . we can talk about the bad stuff now.
Julia: So here's what I don't like about this card, is that you've got . . . most of the text here is centered, but then if you get down to the bottom, there's a line that's flush left with the phone number, and then there's a line that's flush right with the email address. And then it looks like someone at the company blacked out something underneath the phone number, so the . . .
Marc: That wasn't you?
Julia: No, that wasn't me.
Julia: So then the phone number and the email address aren't even aligned.
And then, so let's go back to the fact that most of the text is centered. Centered text is, it's okay.
Marc: I think people right now are scurrying to look at their business cards.
Julia: Right, exactly. You should.
So centered text is okay. It's kind of a safe choice. New designers tend to use centered text a lot. But it's kind of boring. So here's what I think could be done with this business card. So I just kind of redesigned it really quickly. The first . . .
Marc: Oh, wow.
Julia: The top one, it's still centered, okay? But I took out a bunch of the words. I just took the liberty of doing that, because I felt like "custom built wooden vinyl fence, free estimates," those four lines . . . those four lines is, it's too much. And I think that that could go on the back, or maybe just removed, or something.
And then residential, commercial, and farm, if you notice on the original card, they're not even separated. They just all run together. So I just separated them by some bullet points.
Marc: Oh, wow.
Julia: And I put the phone number and the address.
Marc: Yeah, what's a residential commercial farm? I never . . .
Julia: Yeah, I know, right? It's all goodness wrapped up in one, I guess.
And then on the bottom one, I chose to align the text on the . . . it's flush right. And so that gives it a little more visual interest to do that. And you can see this, I drew an invisible line so you can see how the text is connected. And it gives it a stronger look when the text is connected that way, with alignment, because, I don't know. It's just cleaner. It's more dramatic. It's the strength of this edge that gives strength to the layout, if that makes sense.
Marc: Well, even the back of it, too . . . well, yeah, because you're talking about a fence. So the straight line, that makes a lot of sense. You want your fences to be straight. But I like that the close-up that you put in there, instead of the visual . . . good for them for using a photograph, but is it the field? Is it the white line? Are they pulled so back from the fence because it's not really that good quality and they couldn't do a close-up?
So I just, like . . . it's a fence, you know? Where it says "Davis Fence Company," each one you put there are fences. I like that. I think that makes it more cohesive, too. Maybe that's repetition, because it's the word and the visual.
Julia: Right. Yeah. Definitely.
Marc: Trying to get my CRAP together.
Julia: Yeah, good. Impressive. All right, so I'm going to move on to a different concept with alignment, which is the grid. And I don't know if you're aware of this, but a lot of layouts have an underlying invisible grid to them, especially with publications like newspapers and magazines, and websites.
So, yeah, and especially in websites, like, you can toggle between . . . when you're building them, you can toggle between this invisible layer, turn the layers, with the grid, and you can turn it on and off. So you can make sure that all of your content is aligned to the grid.
So it suggests where to put elements on a page, and it gives this overall order and structure.
So I'll show you an example.
Julia: So this is an example of a printed piece, and then this is an example of a website, and I think this is a 16-page grid for the Indianapolis Museum of Art on the right here. So you don't actually see those pink lines.
Marc: Oh, phew.
Julia: Obviously. And so the pink areas are where the content goes, and the white areas are called the gutter.
And then on the left here, I actually went to the site, because I wanted to show you what it looked like without the grid, but then they had changed their website. So it doesn't look exactly like the one on the right, but you can see that the current website is also built on a grid. We just can't actually see it.
Marc: So, wait, the white and the pink is gutter?
Julia: The white between the pink is called the gutter, right?
Marc: So I can see that there are some gutter . . . but they don't use it all the way through, because there is content going across some of the gutter. That must be intentional.
Julia: Right. So they have a 16-column grid, but they're basically using three columns for their text box.
Marc: The two thinner ones on the left, and then the fat one on the right. Sort of? No.
Julia: Well, I'm looking at the one with the pink.
Marc: Yeah. So where we . . .
Julia: Can you see my little hand here?
Marc: Yeah, that's very helpful.
Julia: Yeah. So they have a 16-column grid, but they probably could have made it a four-column grid.
Julia: Because there's really this . . . one, two, three, and then they have one, two, three, and then they have one, two, three, and then they have one, two, three.
Marc: Okay. I see that. Oh, yeah.
Julia: Yeah. So I'm not really sure why they broke it up into 16, except that maybe up here, maybe they do have aspects of the site that we can't see it, where they really need to have a column that's only this short width. But for the home page, at least, when they did this, they needed three of these columns for this.
Marc: So then when you look at that big . . . those images. They've got the big image, then it reduces . . . the three-column image, then it reduces to a two-column image, if we use that, and then it goes down to one-column images. Would that be visual contrast, or would that be an alignment thing, still?
Julia: It's both.
Julia: Yeah. It's definitely both. That's a really good point, Marc. So they've got the big image, then the medium image, then they have smaller images, and then they have even smaller images.
Marc: So it's like an outline.
Marc: But it's with pictures. It really helps your eye figure out, okay, that's really . . .
Marc: Wow. You're changing the way I look at the web. This is great.
Julia: Yeah. And so any website worth its salt, I'm sure, has an underlying grid to it that you're not aware of.
Marc: Are these things that we can find online if we need to figure out . . . redesign some of our publications? How do we find that?
Julia: You know, I'm not sure.
Marc: Okay. I'll try to do some research to put on the page. Yeah.
Julia: Yeah. I mean, if you work in a professional page layout software like I do, like Adobe InDesign, then you just create your own grids.
Marc: Yeah. But these are for beginners.
Marc: Like me.
Julia: Yeah. So I don't have the answer to that.
Marc: Okay, cool.
Julia: Yes. I don't . . . I'm not sure, actually. That's a really good question.
Marc: Yeah. Word doesn't usually have that, and Word, I know, is not a graphic design program, but many of us try to use it that way, I know.
Marc: PowerPoint is another one that we try to use as graphic design, even though I know it's not. So, okay, cool.
Julia: I mean, if your audience is really curious about where to find grids for web and print, then let me know, and maybe I could try to find that resource for you.
Marc: Okay. I've got a . . . actually, I've got one I'll put up on the page, and I'll share it with you after. So, good.
Julia: Okay. Great.
Marc: Everybody listening to the webinar, go write up to the Let's Get Visual page in the vault, and I have a link to some possible grid layouts and pointers, too.
Julia: Thank you.
Marc: You're welcome.
Julia: All right, so let's move on to P for proximity. And proximity also aids in the organization of information, and basically it's stating that on a page, as in life, physical closeness implies a relationship. So another word for proximity might be spacing, and the rule is to group related items together. We want to move them physically closer to one another so that the related items are seen as one cohesive group, rather than a bunch of unrelated bits.
So here's an example with a list of my flowers, not particularly well designed. But I just want you to look at the left side.
Marc: Oh, wow.
Julia: The list of flowers. What might you assume about that list? Probably that they all have something in common, right?
Julia: And if you look at the list on the right, what do you assume about those four flowers on the bottom right?
Marc: My first thought was they're a part of . . . they're a sub-category of cowslip, but then I realized that there's a space in between there, too, so they probably are different.
Julia: Right. You probably assume that they're just related somehow. We don't know how they're related. I haven't taken it that far. But you just understand that instantly, because they're grouped together and they're indented, that those four have some kind of difference than the rest of them.
So again, you know, on a page, as in life, physical closeness implies a relationship.
So let's look at another example. This is a menu that I started to redesign. I didn't finish it. But I just did enough of it so that you can kind of see what I was going for in terms of proximity, and some of the other principles that I talked about.
So this is Gertrude's Piano Bar. They have a lot of problems. The first one is that everything on the menu is all in caps. Caps is hard to read.
Marc: Oh, yeah.
Julia: So I made it upper and lower case. I started there. And then what I did was I added more space between each individual menu item. So there wasn't enough space, for instance, between Gertrude's famous onion loaf, and then underneath it, gazpacho. So I added more space.
And then, to identify the starters section from the entree section, I indented those items.
Marc: Oh, yeah.
Julia: Right here. So here, it's all flush left, and over here, I indented a little bit. So this is an alignment principle. What else did I do? I enlarged the word "Starters."
Julia: It's bigger than it is here. This typeface, okay, we haven't talked about typefaces, but this looks like maybe Times New Roman, or something really boring. So I changed the typeface, and I think I'm using Avant-Garde here.
Marc: So there are two questions. One of them . . . well, just a point. The indent. You also indented the descriptions so they're not all flush left. Which is . . .
Julia: Right. Exactly. Thank you.
Marc: And then italicized them. But the question, then, is that, I've heard underlining is bad. Why did you take off the underlining? Wasn't that contrast?
Julia: Oh, yeah. I took off the underlining because I feel like . . . why is it bad? It's an extra graphic element that's extraneous. I think people want to maybe add emphasis with an underline, but there's better ways to do it. So in my case, I just made the word bigger than the rest of the menu items, and so I added emphasis that way, and I got rid of an extra graphic element that was cluttering it up.
Julia: Cluttering up the layout.
Marc: I know for fundraising letters, underlines actually help draw the eye to things, but I've been told by graphic designers for all other applications that it's really . . . it was actually a graphic note for italicization, to make something italicized, when you're editing a paper. Underlining meant make this italicized. I don't know if that's true or not. But I've consistently had graphic designers not like underlining, and I agree. For the most part, it's not a . . . doesn't help.
Julia: Well, it's also, online, an underline indicates a hotlink.
Marc: Oh my goodness. The number of . . . yes. The number of nonprofit websites I've gone to and clicked, tried to click, and I keep sitting there clicking.
Marc: And it's just underlined, it's not a hotlink. Yeah. That's a good point. Good. Okay. Thanks.
Julia: So it's kind of . . . since the onset of web-based communications, it's kind of changed that visual language.
What else did I do? I took out these little hyphens for the very same reason, Marc, is that they were just annoying me.
Marc: Oh, yeah.
Julia: And I aligned the prices on the right here, with a lot more space.
Marc: That's great. That's what I want to see, is I want to look down and see what can I afford, and then what lines up. So that makes sense. Cool.
Julia: So now with the concept of proximity and alignment and some other things, I feel like this menu card, it's organized not just visually, but also intellectually.
Julia: Okay, here's an example. Going to move on here. This is from a client of mine, the University of Oxford North American Office. And they have a reunion every year for their North American alumni. And I've designed a piece for them. It's usually, like, a little booklet that's an invitation to their events, their alumni events.
And so they gave me this text. It's very visually boring. It was just a Word document. And I wanted to show you the different parts of the information here, to show how I took this text and I designed it using the principle of proximity.
Julia: So we've got the date, we've got the place, we've got the time, and then we've got what it is. It's a drinks party. Exactly where it is, specifically in Houston. It's at this bar. And here's the registration information. So I have to say, though . . .
Marc: I like that. That's really helpful to have those boxes, yeah.
Julia: Oh, I'm sorry. Yeah, so, I mean, I get text all the time from my clients, and this is actually pretty well organized already. I could have shown you a much messier example, but this is what I did with that information, is I put it on a page that's part of a much larger brochure. So this is just one page in a multi-page brochure, basically, is what I'm saying. And I reorganized it a little bit, and I made some things bigger, and I put some things together, closer together. So I felt that the place, the city, needed to be the most important information because, if I'm flipping through this . . .
Julia: . . . and I'm a North American alumni, I just want to know, first and foremost, if you're coming to my city. Okay, great, I live in Dallas, you're coming to my city. And I want to know what the date is. That's the second most important type of information. Okay, good, I can go, or I can't go. If I can go, then I'm going to want to know what the time is, and then all the rest of the information.
Marc: That's important, because for so much of our communications, it's not our . . . what we think is the most important. It's what they think is the most important. We might be psyched that we get a location. That's so cool. But nobody cares about the location when they're flipping through it unless it's near them. So that's really . . . I like the way you put yourself in their shoes to try to figure out what is the reader looking for, and then how can I do the proximity. That's really nice.
Julia: Great. Thank you.
All right, so that's pretty much it for the CRAP principles of design. So now I'm going to turn to the elements of design. Are we ready?
Marc: Let's do it.
Julia: Okay. So again, just to reiterate, it's line, color, shape, scale, texture, and space. And how are we doing on time, Marc? Should I keep going at this pace? Should I speed it up? What do you think.
Marc: Let's see if we can speed this up a little.
Marc: But I think this is . . . I'm really excited. This is the minutia, as you and I know . . . you know from our conversations previously, I like this stuff.
Julia: Okay, good. All right, so let's talk about line. I'm just going to show you a few examples. So basically, a line is a series of points that are adjacent to each other. And the characteristic of a line on a page is to connect or unite. And that connection can be visible or invisible. And so lines are about movement or about direction. It's about leading somewhere. Your eye moves along the line. Your eye moves along the line and kind of moves your eye around the page. So you can use those lines strategically.
So in this example, they're straight lines. This is a poster for a symphony. And in this example, they're also straight lines. This is another design by Paula Scher for a play for Shakespeare in the Park.
Julia: Yeah. She's amazing, right? She's done many, many posters for Shakespeare in the Park, and for the public theater. And so if you're interested, you could look them up and you could see all of the different ones that she's done.
Marc: Well, that's so smart, because she went with things that weren't even the titles. I would not have even thought of that. I get it. I know Shakespeare. I get a pound of flesh, a deal of wonder. But that's really cool. Those are on the sides. Those aren't the big ones. That's great.
Julia: Here's another example. I don't know the designer for this, but I just think it's so beautiful, and I could have used this for so many different sections of my slide show today, for many different principles and elements. And I'm just putting it here in line because I really like the way the text is set on an angle, and it really moves your eye from left to right across the poster.
So you can use straight lines, but you can also use round lines.
Julia: And this is a poster from a designer named Gavin Potenza, and this is for the AIGA, which is the American Institute of Graphic Arts. They turned 100 years old, and to celebrate, the New York chapter asked this designer to create a poster documenting and celebrating the history of the chapter.
So what he did was he mapped out the history from its conception in 1982 to present, and then developed this unconventional timeline that starts here, and kind of like a game board, moves along the history. These are dates right here, and then these are the presidents that they had along the way. Date, date, president. Date, president.
So it's pretty easy to navigate when you start looking at it closely. But it's kind of cool.
Julia: And then this is actually a visualization that I'm going to just exit out of my presentation for a moment just to show you what this looks like in my browser.
So I hope you can see this.
Julia: But what I'm showing is New York City, and they have city bikes, which are those bikes that anyone can rent, and they're new. And so to kick off the release of city bikes, what they did was they did this visualization of point to point journeys during a 48-hour period from last September. And there were 75,000 rides, approximately taken in those two days. And that's what this visualization is showing using just very simple lines and dots. You can see this, right?
Marc: Yeah. That's fascinating.
Julia: Okay, so I'm going to exit out of this, go back to my presentation.
And I'm going to move on to color. So the subject of color is super complicated and complex, and I don't have time to talk about everything. So I'm just going to touch upon a few different key points about color.
The first is that color can be used to generate emotion. And it's been known and documented that certain colors evoke different emotions. And so on this slide, what I'm showing is just some basic colors, the emotions that they're thought to evoke, and some nonprofit logos that have incorporated those colors.
Marc: Okay. So I'm a wordsmith. You said the emotions they are thought to evoke. Is this good science? I mean, is there good studies on this? Or is this kind of a little hocus pocus, or . . . ?
Julia: I haven't read the actual studies, but it seems like just in my very non-scientific research on the web, that there is quite a bit available to back this up.
Marc: Yeah. Okay. I've seen, over the years, consistent theory on this, and I think there's been testing, and I know that businesses like McDonald's with their red and yellow and all, it's highly tested to make you want to think about eating, and then get you out, make you uncomfortable when you sit in there so you get out and let other people come in. I mean, they have it . . . everything from the sculpt . . . the colors in their dining room to the feel of the plastic seats. They initially feel good and then they get uncomfortable quickly, apparently. And, yeah, so . . . it's all . . .
Julia: Wow. Yeah. Very scientific. And so I think that the colors that you pick for either your whole brand or for an individual piece, it's super important. And so a lot of times it can be difficult, though, to think about what color do I choose when I'm starting to work on a piece. And the first thing that I usually do is I go to the brands, and I see if there are brand guidelines for the organization, and I'll use those brand . . . those branded colors first. If there is not enough in the palette to really work with, then I might create a secondary palette that works well with the primary colors. So I'll start there.
But another thing that you can do is, if you're kind of, like, if it's kind of open, and there are no branded colors, or you can use more than the branded colors, if there's a photograph, maybe, in the layout, you can sample colors in the photograph.
So here's an example from an organization called ClimateWorks, and they have a really beautiful website. And I took a screenshot, but this photograph changes on the website. And you can see that it goes really well with their branded colors. It's not an exact match, but someone thought very carefully about what photograph was going to be here so that it worked well with the colors and the layout.
So when I work on logo designs, for instance, I tend not to show color at first, because people all have their own opinion about colors. And so I first show logos in black and white.
Julia: And I get the form down first, and then I introduce color. So this is a project I've been working on recently for the Indiana Wildlife Federation. These are four different logos. And they chose one that they liked, and it wasn't really until, like, the second or third round that I started to give them some color. So . . .
Marc: Well, the great thing about that is the number of nonprofits I've worked with who haven't had a designer use black and white, they go to these gradient colors that become incredibly expensive for stationary and for embroidering.
Marc: Or silkscreening. It's not just a . . . yeah.
Julia: Yeah. Right.
Marc: It's not just a . . . there's a lot of unintended costs.
Marc: But a graphic designer thought it looked good, and wasn't professional enough to start with black and white like you're doing. So this is great.
Julia: Yeah. That's been a trend that I think that we're actually moving away from, Marc, is to show really complicated gradients and dimensions with color and logos. But you're right. It's very difficult to reproduce, and I actually don't recommend those kinds of logos.
Marc: For those of you that don't know the gradients, that just means fading. You start with a dark color, and you fade to a lighter version of it. And it can be visually appealing, but it's a real dare if you're trying to make any paraphernalia, or tchotchke, or T-shirts for a walk, or something like that, so . . .
Julia: Yeah, exactly. I tend to work in flat colors.
Julia: Yeah. So probably the most complicated project that I ever worked on regarding color was this website that I designed for gamesandlearning.org. And so we had all these different elements for this website. And it's a news-based website that connects learning game developers who want to bring their ideas to market with investors who want to support the sector. So it's all very kind of academic, with lots of reports and things like that.
And so we designed, like, a suite of icons here, that are all kind of branded using the same kinds of colors. And those icons are used to differentiate the different types of content on the site. Lots of different colors. You can see them all in this bar at the top.
And so to help kind of guide the design of this website and further materials that were designed, I created these different types of guidelines.
Marc: Oh, yeah.
Julia: So the first one on the left here, this page, is really specifically just about the graphs and the charts that are going to be used on the website, because there's a lot of them. What colors are being used. And then on the right, it's more like an overall palette for the brand.
And you can see it's pretty expensive. You know, there's a primary palette and then the secondary palette. So the secondary palette would come into play, like if you just wanted to use a color as a highlight. So you wouldn't use it too much, but you would use it a little bit.
Marc: Okay. Nice. I love the specificity of having the hexadecimal, too. For those of you who don't know, on the left page, the blue, green, yellow, orange, red, gray have hexadecimals. So that's the exact code that you put into for web layout. Right? Did I say that right?
Julia: Right. Yes.
Julia: Exactly. Okay.
Marc: Told you I was a nerd.
Julia: No, I'm glad that you're adding in this additional information.
Okay, so let's move on to shape. I would say that there's basically three different types of shapes that you can choose from. There's geometric, there's natural and abstract. And here's two examples for each type.
For some reason when I created the slide, it was really difficult to find logos with abstract shapes to them. I guess . . . I don't know why, but nonprofits don't really gravitate towards using abstract symbols. They seem to want more realistic, pictorial images.
Marc: I get that.
Julia: No logos, right, Marc?
Marc: Yeah, I understand that, yeah. Because even the foundation center looks geometric to me more than abstract, but I can see that, where it kind of gets smaller as it goes. Oh, it isn't really a diamond, though. It is . . .
Julia: Well, it is geometric, but . . . yeah, and I guess it says Foundation Center, actually.
Marc: What did I say?
Julia: Yeah. Hey, actually, that's a very clever logo.
Marc: Those are letters.
Julia: I didn't see that at first. Yeah, it says F, and then there's a backwards C.
Marc: Yeah. I totally see that now. That is . . . okay. I'll take back any comment I had about that. That's clever. Nice.
Julia: All right. So here's a website with lots of round shapes, and soft, curved, rounded shapes, they are perceived differently than sharper angled shapes. So circles, ovals, ellipses, they tend to project more of a positive emotional message. Using a circle in a logo or on a website tends to suggest community and friendship, relationships, unity. If you use rings, that can suggest connection and partnership.
Whereas if you use geometric squares and triangles, that tends to suggest stability, strength, efficiency. And sometimes obviously you can combine them in different ways. So on the left here is a logo that you've already seen, that I've designed, which kind of combines the line segments, but in a circle.
And on the right, I just found this one on the internet. I thought it was an interesting example of how they've combined kind of these flowy shapes with more geometric shapes.
And I think that that's a good way . . . like if you have something that's really geometric, and it's also maybe in a color that seems kind of, I don't know, maybe it has an association with rigidity, like, maybe you could balance it out by incorporating something that's more curved and flowy with colors that suggest something that's maybe warm and friendly. You know what I mean?
Marc: Nice. Yeah.
Julia: So there's a lot of different ways to kind of balance those things in different ways.
Julia: Here's the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences logo before and after. So they just redesigned this, and it's pretty much the same figure of the Oscar statue, but instead of being in a circle, it's in a triangle. So the way it was described on the website is that the light, instead of shining from . . . like, the light source is now, I guess, shining down on it, rather than from behind it. And the triangle also is like an A, for Academy.
Marc: Oh my. That's great.
Julia: Yeah, pretty neat.
So I think that, before you start designing something for your organization, if you could write down a list of maybe values and attributes that you stand for, or that the piece should convey, you can start thinking about all of these different things. Like, what shape should I use, what color should I use, things like that.
Marc: Nice. Would you consider this even with, like, an event committee.
Julia: Oh, sure.
Marc: Or . . . okay. Great.
Julia: Okay, let's talk about . . . oh, wait, I'm still talking about shape. I wanted to just show you one more thing, which is that typefaces have shape, also. You can have rounded shapes in your typefaces, or you can have pointy, edgy shapes in your typefaces. So I think that the rounded letter forms are more youthful. The bottom ones are maybe more aggressive, more dynamic. So just things to think about.
Julia: Okay, so let's talk about scale. Scale, another word for it would be size. And that's just how you scale things or size things on the page is used to convey importance, or attract attention, or create contrast.
So we've kind of already talked about this quite a bit under contrast. It's just another way of looking at it. And the examples that I'm showing here are from Hat Show Print, which is a well-known letter press printer in Nashville, Tennessee. And they're one of the oldest print shops in America, and they started out by making posters for country music stars, and then they moved on to maybe, like, Vaudeville, circus shows, and things like that. And now they do posters for all sorts of events. But they have a very specific look to their posters. I'm sure you're familiar with it. And I like the way they contrast the scale of the images and the typeface.
Marc: That state fair one cracks me up.
Julia: The food on sticks?
Marc: Not since the cavemen have humans eaten so much food on sticks. The state fair.
Julia: I know. I love that.
Marc: That is great. Nice.
Julia: And then, because I can't show enough Paula Scher theater posters, here's another one.
Marc: Wow. So I'm bending my head to actually read this. Why is this good?
Julia: Well, are you engaged? Do you want to read it? Is it fun?
Marc: Only because I want to be able to answer a question intelligently if you ask one.
Julia: Yeah. It's a big poster, on the side of a . . . on a construction site on New York City as you're walking down the street. So yeah, it works. If it was a little tiny graphic on Facebook, then no, it wouldn't work.
Marc: Okay. So the little try . . . that's true to scale, I guess, is that, also. The . . . not only the scale with . . . of the elements within it, but the piece itself.
Marc: Yeah. If this were walking down the street, it would definitely draw me in more. That's cool. Okay. Thank you.
Julia: Yeah. So here's another example of scale. This is a totally different kind of example.
Julia: But this is an infographic that I designed for Nonprofit Marketing Guide, and they produce this trends report every year. And every year, I design this infographic, and it's illustrating the results of the nonprofit communication trends for the upcoming year.
So in this example, I just enlarged the section "Most Popular Communication Frequencies: Email and Direct Mail," and just to really simply show that, because 42% will send an email newsletter to their supporters monthly is a bigger number than all the rest of the numbers . . .
Marc: That's so cool.
Julia: . . . it's bigger, right? Very obvious. But that was an example of scale.
Marc: Nice detail. Yeah.
Julia: Okay, we'll move on to texture. How am I doing on time, Marc?
Marc: Let's do it. We're at . . . so if you have to go now, this will be recorded and then put up in the vault. But I've asked Julia to be able to just share these principles, because these are things we're going to want to take back to our teams when we're trying to describe why things should be the different ways we have. So this is important. So let's keep going.
Julia: Okay. I just have a little bit more to cover, and then I will actually be done.
Marc: And also, remember to ask . . . you know, feed your questions with the hashtag #npapresents, or put them in the control box on your GoToWebinar panel. Because this is stuff that really significantly impacts your ability to communicate to the people you're helping, and the people that help fund the people you're helping.
Julia: Good point. Yeah, definitely.
All right, so let's talk about texture. So texture is basically just, like, the surface of an object. And in a printed material or online, you can incorporate texture, as well, because it adds depth, and it adds visual interest. So that could be, like, a pattern, or it could be like, the surface. The printed surface.
So this is an annual report that I designed for an organization called Food Corps, and you can see it's subtle, but especially on this green page, this is the inside of the front cover, there's, like, this texture in the back that's speckled. And then when I designed these icons on the interior pages, you can see that speckling was introduced into the icons.
And, does it have any specific meaning, per se? Not really. It just offers some visual interest, and maybe because it's about kids learning how to garden, and they're in the dirt, maybe there's some connection there that it's a little bit dirty looking.
Marc: Well, it gives depth. And when I did theater design, we had to take paint and swipe it, and after we had designed our set, we had to then speckle it with three different colors of paint to give depth so it didn't look flat from the seats. But it looked like there was depth to it. And I think that just makes your communications stand out a bit, because there's actually something a little bit more than just a flat color. It's great.
Julia: Yeah. And here's another example that I did not design, but it's a beautiful annual report from an organization called City Year, and they've created texture with these overlapping geometric shapes, which are really beautiful.
Marc: Okay, so I read way too much into these things. But look at that cover. Is the lower right-hand corner the only white part of the page that's not a letter, so you pick it up and open it?
Julia: Right here?
Julia: Well, this isn't the cover, actually. But it doesn't matter, does it? I mean, I'm not sure why they left that little itty bitty part white.
Marc: It could be just the design. Because there's white over on the 25th Gala, there's a speck of . . . spot of white in the middle, too, but . . . Just sometimes, yeah, some people do put great thought into these. Like the arrow in FedEx. The hidden arrow. So I was just wondering if there was something going on there. All right.
Julia: Yeah, I don't know. I didn't even notice that, but you're right. These are just a couple of . . . three different pages from a very long report.
Julia: But here's another example.
Julia: I found this poster, which I guess is also an infographic. I just love this.
Marc: Yeah. Who knew?
Julia: Yeah. I don't know who designed this.
Marc: That's great.
Julia: Okay, so I just have one more element to discuss, and that is space. So space is really important. Maybe I saved the most important for last. But sometimes designers call it white space. And that's areas of calm in a layout that doesn't have any text or graphic elements. It's just white.
And it's really important, because it gives a place for the eye to rest, and it gives a place for you to absorb the message that's being communicated. And, like I mentioned earlier, new designers tend to fill up all that white space, and more experienced designers intentionally keep that white space.
So I can't even tell you the number of times that I've had my clients say, "Can you fill that space in?" And I try to tell them that it's really important to keep some white space in the layout if we can.
Marc: So correct me if I'm wrong. Leave this slide up. But everybody, if you look at this, stop what you're doing, look at this page, because this is one of the most important aspects of fundraising letters, is the white space. White space is our friends. It helps our donors actually process our information instead of fire hosing them with text blocks of justified, flush on each side, margin content that just totally sounds like "wah wah, wah wah, wah wah" from Charlie Brown, this actually gets us to be able to see stuff.
So there's white space around . . . and this is where, correct me if I'm wrong, Julia. The white space around the block. But if you also look, the text, even though it's on a web page, is left justified, so it has that ragged ending look underneath the block. Actually the text underneath . . . yeah, right there. That, in a fundraising letter, anyway, is a visual cue that actually helps your readers read the text, much more than the visually . . . the new designers tend to like flush justified in fundraising letters, because it looks balanced to their eye. We don't want balance. We want action in fundraising letters.
So that's just something that more time . . . the white space issue, I see it all the time, too, Julia, where people want to fill in the white space. But white space is one of our best friends. And if we have more to say, we can add another page. Because the testing shows that more pages tend to get better results, for some odd reason. So it's not a bad thing to have more pages. It's a little bit more costly, but the indications are the response will be better for that.
Julia: Right. Right.
Marc: Obviously test for yourself.
Julia: Yeah, so compare this, you know, beautiful website with something like this, which is a newspaper circular that we've all seen. It's a typical mass market publication. And you can see that few areas are left unfilled. And I get it. Like, if you're going to pay for the ad space, it's really expensive, you want to get . . .
Julia: . . . as much as possible into that space.
But the same goes for a grocery store layout. And generally speaking, that you go into a grocery store, that those with higher quality merchandise, like your Whole Foods, is going to have more space between the displays. And the same is true for design. More white space is going to give an impression of higher quality.
Julia: So here's a few rules of thumb when it comes to space, because I think this is really important. And, again, this relates to that principle of proximity. You want to move related items together. You want to decrease the spacing between lines of text. You don't want to butt the text against the solid shape. And once more, don't be afraid to leave empty space. Gives the eye a chance to rest.
So white space, sometimes designers call it negative space, because it's the space that's left between shapes. And designers like to make clever use of negative space, as in these examples.
Marc: Like I said, FedEx.
Julia: Yeah, Marc already mentioned FedEx. And as you probably know, in the negative space here, there's an arrow pointing to the right. The Guild of Food Writers, very clever. Has a spoon in their ball point . . . not ball point. Fountain pen nib. And in this cover, what is this? This is Wired magazine. You can see the empty space there. The negative space there, rather.
So there's a book about this idea. It's called "The Smile in the Mind," and it's by Beryl . . . I'm not going to say this right, McAlhone. And I have this in my resources section, which I'm about to show you. But it's about witty thinking and playfulness in graphic design.
Marc: I like that.
Julia: So in conclusion, I just hope that after the webinar today, that you have a basic understanding of the core principles of effective graphic design as a tool for visual communication, and the elements that are used to achieve them. Because I really feel like graphic design, combined with powerful messages, of course, has the power to inspire action, inspire involvement, inspire engagement and giving, and to create awareness.
Marc: Thank you so much. We do have some questions. One of them is just kind of . . . how do we get started? This is . . . you gave us some great principles, but many of the people on this call are in varying . . . they're in varying levels of authority for the brand guidelines of their nonprofit. How do you start implementing these in your own work? Is it becoming familiar with content, repetition, alignment, proximity, thinking about the underlying grids? Is it just being more aware? Is that a great place to start? Or is there something else?
Julia: Well, I would definitely say that you want to keep all of those principles in mind, for sure. And then I also have some resources for people. They're kind of like do it yourself resources.
Marc: Oh, great.
Julia: Some goodies for you which I think might partially answer your question, Marc, because I mentioned that I use Adobe Creative Suite, but obviously you're not designers, you might not have that program or use that program. So here's some web-based applications that I've heard are really good. I haven't used them myself, but I'll just tell you what they are.
This first one up on the left is Infogram. You can use this to make infographics. The one on the top right is Canva, and I've heard that's really good, too. I've looked through their entire website and checked everything out, although I've not used it myself. It's supposed to be really easy to use.
Marc: It is.
Julia: And it's free. I think all of these are free.
PicMonkey is another Canva-type program, but I think it does more PhotoShop-type things. So it's a little more advanced. And then Quozio is kind of interesting. What you do is you just put in your quote and who said it, and then I think you can choose a background, and you get one of those, like, really pretty Facebook share graphics, you know, that you see all the time, with the quotes and the pretty backgrounds.
Marc: Oh my goodness. So Buffer has one of those, also. I use the Buffer app that lets me post things different times on social media, even though I submit it to be posted at once, it queues it up for me. And it's Buffer.com/pablo, P-A-B-L-O. And you can also do that. It has a lot of stock photos that they allow you to use your quote on.
And it's amazing how much more sharable a stock photo and a quote on a stock photo is than just the quote itself sometimes. It's good for nonprofits to test that out. That's great. So Quozio, also. Nice.
Julia: Yeah. And then I had mentioned earlier that sometimes it's hard to figure out what color to choose when you're starting out. And so here's a website from Adobe that has a lot of different palettes.
Marc: Oh, they put them together. I like that.
Julia: Yeah. And then there's a color wheel. Like, there's a lot here that you can explore. This is just a screenshot of one of the pages. But this might be helpful for people.
Marc: So these would be colors that . . . it looks like the way they're grouped, that these are colors that would logically or visually go together.
Julia: Well, I think what these are, this particular page are users of this page, and they have uploaded their own particular palettes.
Marc: Oh, interesting. Okay.
Julia: Yeah. But there is a color wheel feature on this website, and you can use it to choose, contrasting colors, primary colors. There's, like, a whole theory to which colors go together, which I didn't talk about today.
Julia: And then here's . . . if you really want to get more into color, this is a PDF that I found online that's free to download. And so here's what I was talking about, color relationships.
Marc: Oh, wow.
Julia: So this is how you can find colors that work well together from the color wheel. If they're complementary, they work well together. If they're analogous, they work well together, etcetera.
Marc: I had not seen that put that way before. That's very helpful.
Julia: And then I had talked about that book, "A Smile in the Mind." Here's the book. And here's a Pinterest board that has lots of examples. And if I got to this Pinterest board, you won't ever see me again, because it's just so much fun to look at all the different examples. I just get so into it. I'm just like, "Wow, I wish I had designed that."
Marc: Right? I want one of those logos someday. Someday there'll be something that I'll be able to design that will have that. That is great.
Julia: And then just one more thing, which is another PDF from the same people who did the color. This one has all of those elements of design all on one quick reference sheet, and there's a URL if you want to go and download it. But I think my whole presentation is going to be available, right, Marc?
Marc: It is.
Julia: Okay, yeah.
Marc: And the slides, too. Yeah, so the recording is going to be up hopefully this afternoon, and the slides are already posted there, a PDF of them, so you can download those and see the URLs there, too.
One of the questions that we get a lot, and so I'm not going to call out anybody for asking this, but is, "How do we know who a good graphic designer is?" And for those of you listening, I prepped Julia for this. I didn't mean to put her uncomfortably on the spot. But I see a lot of graphic design that actually goes at odds with fundraising help. It looks visually good, but they'll look really good going bankrupt, because they're not actually helping the nonprofit . . . the fundraising materials, anyway. There are maybe other parts of the design that have different roles.
But, so Julia, what would you have people look for . . . what are some maybe shibboleths, you know, little passwords, or things that are indicators people could look for to know that they're not a beginner, and they're going to actually do a good job?
Julia: Right. Well, there's no quick way to figure that out, but I think you want to start by maybe getting some recommendations from your colleagues, and then going to those websites of those designers, and just look at their work on their website and see if you like their work, first of all. I don't think that they necessarily need to do work in your sector specifically.
Julia: But I do think that, if you're a nonprofit, that you want to work with a designer or a design firm that has experience in the nonprofit world. Because, as you know, you're all very unique, and we love you for that uniqueness. Which is not to say that every designer or design firm that works with nonprofits is going to be a perfect match for you. But I just think that that's a good place to start. You must like their work, and they should work with nonprofits.
And then you can start interviewing them, either in person or online, and try to ask them questions about, like, if they start sort of showing you their work, you want to find out exactly what they did on that piece. Because sometimes designers work with other people, and it might not be obvious to you that maybe there was an art director . . .
Marc: Oh, wow.
Julia: . . . who provided a concept, and the designer was just there to execute it. Maybe it was a pretty multifaceted designer who did all of it. And you want to kind of get to . . .
Marc: That's excellent advice. I was spoiled by one person who was an amazing artist, and would create many of my book covers. And just some certain graphics for certain things. And he would start with very different concepts and work them down. And you could tell comic book references or other references, or fields that you wanted to get in, he'd try to get that in there, and he'd give these sketches that were all over the place, in a great way. There were just real obvious differences.
And then I worked with another one who wanted me to tell it to her exactly what I wanted. She was good at executing, probably, but I didn't know design as well. I knew enough to know that I didn't know it. So I had a feel that I was going for, and I didn't expect to be the one that was actually putting together the elements and just giving them to her to put on the paper.
Marc: So that's a very helpful tip. Not only what . . . you like their work. Well, what parts of this did you do, then, and what's your process for getting it done?
Julia: Right. And your process, exactly. You want to ask the designer what their process is. So they should be articulate about describing the piece that they did, who they did it for, why they made the choices that they made. And also what their process is and how they went about it, and so what can you expect from the process so that you don't have any surprises along the way?
So in the way that they describe the project, and in the way that they write it up in their proposal, you should know exactly what you're going to get for the money that you're paying. You shouldn't have any surprises.
Marc: Nice. Yeah, those types of surprises usually aren't pleasant.
Great. Well, are there any last-minute questions that anybody has? This is where you can . . . oh, good. I'm glad you have this slide. This is where you can find Julia. She's Stone Soup Creative on Facebook, she's definitely on Twitter. Her phone number, website. If you go to her website, definitely look out on her About page, because she gives you the process that she goes through.
Julia, I can't thank you enough. This has been really helpful for . . . part of my . . . I've got a tons of notes, and I've also just been thinking about clients I work with and my own stuff, how am I doing this? How am I using lines? How am I overtaxing something like Word, maybe, that's really not a design tool. Maybe I should dust off Adobe Creative Suite. Although I know that's not what you were saying, but I've got it, so maybe I could learn to use it.
But this has just been very, very helpful, and I love seeing the examples, too.
Julia: Great. Well, thank you so much for the opportunity. It's been really, really fun. I love doing this, and I hope that everyone who watches it gets something out of it. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Marc: And definitely I'd encourage you to take her up on that, and go to Stone Soup Creative, and sign up for her email list because we need to keep being reminded of these things. We get lulled into it in our world. We forget. Because we know so much about our nonprofit, we forget what we're actually presenting to donors or to clients, or to whatever, whoever we're trying to communicate to.
And so it's just good to keep a constant . . . kind of like you just schedule routine maintenance in your car. Routine visual maintenance, or graphic design maintenance, is really helpful, too. So maybe just putting a . . . this page in the vault on your calendar to just go through every quarter and remind yourself of that, too.
And with that, we've come to the close of another NPA Presents. Could you click to the last slide?
There we go. So all of these are, as you know, are up in thenonprofitacademy.com/vault. And we have a coaching call coming up in a couple weeks, and always, 24/7, as long as Facebook is open, we have the gathering place and the forum to ask your questions and comments.
And until then, hope to see you online.