Tag Archives: design

Communicating with Design Part 2: Preferences

Of course, one can’t just use color alone to build a successful design. Something I always ask my clients about is who they think their targeted market is. Based on this information, the design can be planned accordingly to appeal to both client and user and provide an efficient user experience for the consumer. This information is also helpful in appealing to the user’s tastes and getting them interested in the product(s) or service(s) my client will provide.

Design Preferences

When designing a website, graphic, or interface, the personal preferences of my client or clients are always important. Chances are, their business plan reflects their personality, preferences and passion in some way and it’s likely that the targeted consumer will share some of the same attributes.

What are your tastes? Does your business model reflect your tastes? If so, it’s probably something that you are passionate about, and you probably became passionate about it through a personal experience. This is something you and your market will have in common?

If so, a design can start to take shape from merely having a color palette to beginning to form a brand; a style, mood and tone that appeals to both the client and the consumer.

Recently, I attended a Girl Geek Dinner in center city Philadelphia and listened to a presentation from Happy Cog‘s Jessica Ivins about user experience design with the the target market in mind. Although the presentation set its focus on women as a very large part of the market, it was very informative creating on good design for everyone, not just exclusively men or exclusively women.

Beyond this, during the presentation I learned and was reminded to carefully study and ask my clients to think about who they’re marketing to so we can understand the design preferences of that group or demographic. For example, will this market prefer a clean, simple site design with neutral colors or a brightly colored site with more features and functions?

Different fonts appeal to different people

An example of design preference – different fonts appeal to different people.

User Studies

An excellent way to figure out design preferences based on demographic are user studies. User studies are basically fictitious users that are given personalities, stats, [product or service] concerns, and other attributes based on the client’s business model and target market.

This is extremely effective in helping both designer and client personify their user or consumer before their site is launched or even designed. Personification of a group of individual users helps us get more specific about and anticipate their design preferences.

User Persona

Example of user studies using a fictitious persona. (Image Source)

A Brand for the User

Now that we know who are users are, it becomes much easier to design for them. This was we are able to make a brand that consumers will learn to recognize, an interface that’s effective at serving its purpose and a business that puts the customer first; ultimately what we want.

Of course, there is much more research to be done in order to create the best user experience possible, but doing some research will get your design plans on track in communicating your brand effectively to your consumers because now, both client and designer have layout, textures, fonts, styles and design preferences in mind.

Once you’ve established your plans, a good rule of thumb is to write them down. This make things easier for you and your designer.

Read my post on how to get the MOST from your designer here.

Communicating with Design Part 1: Color

When mapping out ideas and schedules for blog posts for 2012, I thought that I would cover a wide range of subjects; including the basics of design. I thought that touching on the basics of what we already know, and use daily as a design company may help our clients and readers get some ideas for their own business and marketing plans. This week, I’m going to begin by sharing my knowledge of business branding with you, in parts.

Part 1 – Color


Any designer knows that the right typography, layout and colors are important, and if you are a smart business person, you have probably consulted with a designer at some point to help put your marketing plan into motion. That’s because a good designer knows that marketing material is most effective when it’s designed with their client’s target audience in mind. The right design can grab the attention of an audience, make them feel good about purchasing product or service and even help them remember a business name long after they’ve seen an ad, poster, website, or billboard.

Most people love color. Color can attract and entice them; or make them feel at ease, powerful, happy, excited, or trendy. If you haven’t done so already, choosing a color or two to represent your product or service can make your business stand out. That’s way so many companies use distinctive colors. In logo design, especially, color is a critical component in the representation of a business – it sets the mood and tone for all marketing material and the business itself.

Let me give you an example. The colors below are each a main representative color for four large companies. From left to right, can you identify them?

Facebook blue, Starbucks green, Best Buy yellow, Target red

Did you figure out which color belongs to which company? These four colors have been the basis for that company’s logo and all there marketing material. You’ve seen it before, so much that now you may recognize the color and understand, probably pretty easily, what you’ve learned to associate each color with. These colors could very well be from anything but you most likely thought of the companies that they represent. Cool, huh? That’s because these colors have become synonymous with the company’s name, logo and ultimately, their brand.

The Character of Color

Why do you think Starbucks for example, uses the color green (above)? Well, the color green is often associated with the words, “natural, earthy, healthy, beauty, fortune, wholesome, nurture, life”. Starbucks is a company has prided itself on being “green”; using post-consumer materials and supporting causes like green energy, conserving water and resources and supporting such causes as well as providing rich, healthy foods and coffees to their consumers.

What do you think of when you see that color?

If you haven’t already, think of a color or two for your business, or to represent yourself with that color’s emotional reaction in mind. Here are a few color associations:

Blues and purples: sophistication, royalty, stability, wealth.

Greens: wholesome, natural, earthy, caring or nurturing, good fortune, strength.

Yellows and Oranges: Happiness, excitement, energy, vibrant.

Reds: passion, power, boldness.

Pinks: flirtatious, fun, feminine, sweet.

White: Simplicity, purity.

Black: Fullness, confidence, sophistication, mortality, experience, boldness.

For the Colorblind

As you have been reading through this post, you have probably thought of those who can’t see colors the way they may have been intended to be seen. Unfortunately, we cannot change how colors are seen in some people but what we can do is use contrasting colors our advantage.

Contrast is the difference or unlikeness between colors. Black and white, for example are contrasting and are easily distinguished from one another. So to make sure that your colors are accommodating to your entire audience, make sure that they have a fair amount of contrast between them.

A good way to do this is to remove the color and view your material in black and white. Can you still tell the colors apart? Is the difference between them still clear? If so, your colors are contrasted well.

A Note on Matching Colors

If you are planning on using more than one color (other than black and white) for your brand and are unsure how to pair them, consult your designer or a color wheel (below).

Color Wheel

Here are the three basic rules on matching colors:

First, the two colors opposite each other on the color wheel are natural compliments, for example.

Second, any two or more colors that are immediately next to one another are monochromatic, and also go together but be careful of your contrast when using them.

Third, you may use three colors that are compliments; here’s how you find them:

Directly on top of the color wheel, draw an imaginary triangle that spans the wheel itself. The colors where each point of your triangle falls are called, split-compliments and also work nicely together.