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Design and the Weather: More Similar Than You Might Expect

Design and the Weather: More Similar Than You Might Expect

All too often, meteorologists are thought of as the only experts who can hold a successful career even if they aren't always "right.” Similarly, there is no "right or wrong" when it comes to design – but there are best practices that can be done in advance to make a piece of branded material more suited for the platform and audience it was made for. In this blog, we'll explore how three critical design and layout decisions are made – and why.
 

Predict Your Audience

If you live in California, it’s highly unlikely you’re watching the weather for a small town in Pennsylvania. The same can be said for design. If your audience is aged 50+ with little to no experience on social media, you probably won’t want to design ads for them that run only on Facebook.

Answering the Who/What/When/Where/Why for every design project is the first critical step towards a successful design. What is a successful design? One that quickly and efficiently grabs the viewer’s attention and educates them on your brand and services. Designers create a layout based on the predicted “forecast,” if you will, based on the 5 W’s above.

Examples of the predictions could be:

Who – Females, aged 20-40
What – Yoga classes
When – Yoga class date range/time
Where – Yoga class location
Why – Benefits of the class

Based on the predictions above, designers have a clear-cut direction to work towards when creating the layout at hand in order to cater to and appeal to the audience.

Need help defining the 5 W’s for your next project
 

Expect the Expected

The weather is constantly predicted and released daily by meteorologists. Users expect to see the same types of predictions when checking the weather – from the high and low of the day, to what time the sun will set or the chance of rain percentage. Similarly, users expect to see content that is consistently branded and recognizable for the company that is advertising. This applies to all platforms: print, web, social media, digital marketing and so on. One of a designer’s main duties when designing is to keep things on brand so users can expect the expected – making this the second critical design decision.

The holy grail of branding for a company is (or should be) their style guide. A style guide defines the design principles and rules that apply to the brand. A style guide should define specific colors and fonts to font sizes and everything in-between. If a design doesn’t feel quite right, a designer can refer to the style guide to be sure everything is on point according to the rules of that specific brand. Without a style guide in place, the viewers won’t learn what to expect when they see your brand, making it less memorable.

Does your company have an up-to-date style guide
 

Keep Things Digestible

More likely than not, people only care about the expected temperatures of the day or the possibility of rain. It’s unlikely that the speed of the wind or the exact percentage of humidity will play a factor in most people’s plans for the day. Keeping information digestible and focusing on the most notable information is a key in design as well. This is the third critical decision a designer must make when laying out information – how much information to focus on, and where.

Let’s revisit our yoga class example from above. Knowing our 5 W’s and using the business’ style guide to create a recognizable piece of branded material, we must now actually decide what to say. Here’s an example of the amount of content we might start with as provided by the client, and how we would strip it down to the digestible essentials:
 
Provided content:
“Mysore practice is the traditional method for learning Ashtanga Yoga as taught by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India. In the Mysore method, each student learns a set sequence of postures and gradually develops an individualized practice under the supervision of a teacher. Students learn a set sequence of postures and gradually build a personal practice. Although all students learn the same sequence of postures, each individual progresses through the sequences at their own pace and postures and sequences are adapted to the needs and aptitudes of the student. We’ll be hosting Mysore classes every Thursday in October at 10am.”

Do you notice where the most important part of that information sits in the paragraph of copy? The answer is the very last sentence. A designer would likely extract the critical information and make it the most noticeable on that graphic at hand. The paragraph is also missing a proper Call to Action, which is a directional tool that gently guides the viewer to take the next step. An excess of information would make the design feel bloated and undigestible.

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Summary
Following the three critical design guidelines above will give your designs the best chance for success when it comes to connecting to your audience and making a memorable impact. Predict your audience with the 5 W’s, follow the brand style guide, and keep the information digestible. Weather predictions are never perfect, and certainly neither is design – but both can be predicted and better prepared for in advance.