Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sad, but true

When I took my first publication design class at Emory & Henry College, my (favorite!) professor, Dr. Lauder, told us that not everyone in the room would become a designer (but please OH PLEASE I want to be a designer!). However, she said that just because we wouldn't all make our livings from Adobe Creative Suite, that didn't mean we should skip that class all semester.

Her philosophy (which I have 100% adopted as my own) is that there is no excuse for bad design. Don't blame your computer or your software or your printer. Figure out the basics, and make it work (Tim Gunn, anyone?). Good design is not all about expensive software and the latest technology. Good design is about a few simple principles, which, when working together, can take a design from sucky to decent, at the very least.

Dr. Lauder assured us that at some point in our lives, we would use this publication design knowledge. Whether we were designing our children's birthday party invitations or putting up fliers for our lost puppy, or helping the church out with the weekly bulletin or newsletter...we'd all have at least one occasion to flex our design muscles. And the skills we learned her class would help us create something we would be proud to associate with our name.

But back to that church bulletin/newsletter thing...When I saw this post from Jon at Stuff Christians Like today, I couldn't help but shake my head out of pure recognition of the truth he speaks. He calls it "Getting font-tastic with faith." I call it "The seven deadly sins of church publications." Read his article for his tongue-in-cheek observations.

And from my perspective, here's a newsflash for all those with a hand in designing the church bulletin or newsletter:
  • Centered is not your only alignment option. You should probably try that left-aligned thing more often.
  • Pixelated pictures are bad
  • Try something like Garamond in place of Times New Roman
  • Comic Sans does not make your youth section more appealing to people ages 12-18
  • Not every single t/T needs to be a cross
  • More fonts does not equal better design
  • For our purposes, consider using clip art kin to devil-worshiping

Now, please take a moment to view this website. Though, I warn you...you may want to gouge your eyes out after you do so. Here's a couple of screen shots in case you'd rather not take a dull object to your eyeballs...(click to enlarge)

{the whole page}

{the warning bar at the top of the screen}

{this kitty actually runs across the screen...}

What's my point in all of this? Good design gives the impression that you know what you're doing. Good design just makes you look better. Terrible design is a huge turn-off, even for people who don't consider themselves designers, or who couldn't begin to put into words why a design is bad. Bad design hinders your purpose! If I'm trying to make a point (which anything that is printed or published is, otherwise, why bother?) and my design is messy or ugly...you're not going to take the time to read/look at/consider my message. And that defeats the point.

Now, churches and religious organizations are certainly not the only ones guilty of terrible design. Another one of my favorite blogs, Pr*tty Sh*tty, compares terrible design and good design on a regular basis. Here are some of my favorite entries in the "Sh*tty" category:

So what do you hate to see on a printed publication? What organizations seem to be the worst about breaking all the rules (in a bad way)?
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EmilySarah said...

TL's principles on design have applied to my search for a cell phone and to bakery-made/decorated cakes. See also, http://www.cakewrecks.com/

Emmy said...

It is so true, I know when I see new blogs if they are cluttered and crowded and a weird font I often just keep right on clicking. Sounds like you had a good teacher