Designing Communication

Every day

Every day I help people talk. I help them connect with their customers or audience. I translate, in fact. I translate their ideas or messages to a visual format that will help them be understood. I never say a word.

This is design. This is what I do.

I live in London, in the United Kingdom. I have done various forms of art since I was a child. I studied classical music, piano, violin and voice during school and I added art and computer science as my main focus at university but as a basically shy person, I also studied people.

I used to lead worship. The hope whilst doing this is to help people in their journey to draw nearer to God. Music, like other forms of art, envelopes the entire person through nearly every sense and every emotion. Design, however, digital design at least, generally relies on one main sense. The eyes.

Through the use of colour, layout, typography and photography, and sometimes sound, your message can reach through the eyes of your audience to tap into their emotions… and as many other senses as one can invoke visually. Emotions, dreams, fantasies, even faith. You can even help a person connect with God. Something that one must not take


Art, design in fact, is communication (with your audience). Every creation a voice. Many have been inspired by a message heard only with their eyes…

We live in a society of ‘meme theology’. People taking ‘soundbites’ from any source simply due to it being put on a picture and shared virally on Facebook. But that isn’t always truth. That is rarely real.

While your audience may show up due to a ‘soundbite’, they won’t stay unless you are able to reach inside of them with your message.

Art, design in fact, is communication.

Every creation a voice.

Many have been inspired by a message

heard only with their eyes...

~Poppies Blooming

There was a day when a website had as much information as you could possibly fit on every single page. There was a day when people’s attention spans were longer and we could take our time conveying the ins and outs of what we stood for and how they could be a part of that.

That day is not today. Today we need to be clear and quick and able to get our message across in a race against time…

Our design needs to be responsive to accommodate the roughly 50% of our audience that will not visit on a computer. Tablets and mobiles dominate and drive internet technology.

On that note… It’s the way forward in website design. If your website doesn’t have an image that literally overtakes your viewers’ screen you may feel as though you’ve been left behind in the 20th Century.

Nary a WordPress theme is without them. Hero images and hero sliders. Full width images in slide form.

The latest sliders have an amazing array of transitions to take you to the next slide. As well as the ability to have different elements enter and exit upon your chosen cues… Videos, any media you have, all to be lobbed at your viewer within three milliseconds of landing on your site.

I’m not saying these are devoid of any value. Done well, they can truly be effective and guide your viewer’s navigation of your site, since we’ve all decided the ‘hamburger menu’ is losing viewer interaction, not gaining.

However, and this I do not say lightly. As a web developer and designer, it is not a betrayal of that profession to make this ‘confession’. After seeing every website for more than three years, including many of my own, following this trend, I have this thought on the matter.

Simply having the ability to make images and slides seemingly jump into the face of your visitors to gain their attention, does not mean that you should.

There may be 153 randomly set transition effects; jumping, bouncing, quincing, to get

from one image to the next; there is also the gentle, and dare I say, subtle cross fade from one to the next.

We need more than to just grab our viewers’ attention for a moment. I’d say it’s time to keep their attention with our message, not circus stunted slides. We need to reward them with clear and concise, easily navigated content.

Like a beautiful portrait can set a museum visitor to pause, design can hold our visitors’ gaze. It is our place as designers to guide them, not startle them.

Since technology has shortened our attention span, however, we need to make our point quickly and lead them onto their next task. Hopefully that will be to join us in our endeavours, missions or through sales.

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