The Top 5 Design Elements Non-Designers Should Know

As Art Director at Pierpont, I am frequently asked a variety of questions about design and the role it plays in marketing. Although the two are definitely not one and the same, they do go hand-in-hand – and often on a regular basis.

The job of a graphic designer is not an easy one. It requires time management, patience, creativity and most importantly, knowledge. Being familiar with the evolving technologies and up-and-coming trends is a must. Since elements of my job are constantly changing and many are highly technical, it is only natural that I get questions. 
To shed some light on the most common points of confusion non-designers have when it comes to design, I’ve compiled this list that I hope will help you in your marketing and business endeavors. 

1. Why do I need an e-mail marketing program? Why can’t I simply send my e-blast out through my regular email program?

An email marketing program helps increase your chances of launching a successful marketing campaign for multiple reasons. 

For starters, a mass email from your personal account has a high possibility of ending up in Spam folders. You spent a significant amount of time creating your eblast – don’t you want people to see it?   Second, an email marketing program gives you a lot more flexibility when it comes to creating well-designed messages. In fact, many times you don’t even need complex programming knowledge to create a beautiful message that corresponds with your brand’s standards.     An email marketing program also ensures you can track the ROI from your email and better manage your contacts. For example, most email marketing programs allow you to track your contacts’ click-through and conversion rates, as well as which messages bounced.   Over time, an email marketing program helps you create well-designed correspondences to your clients and prospects – which in turn can help grow your business.   2. What is the benefit of a Content Management System?

A Content Management System allows non-programmers to easily make changes to a website, ultimately saving them time and money. They have the ability to add new pages, upload multimedia files, update copy and images, and much more, all with a “what you see is what you get" (WYSIWYG) platform that’s as easy to use as Microsoft Word. Other reasons to consider a CMS include:

The ability to make edits from anywhere at any time, since most CMS are hosted in the cloud. So no matter where you are, if you have internet access, you can update your site. 

The opportunity to add content easily, helping increase the value of your content, demonstrating thought leadership and improving search rankings.

Easily maintains your brand’s consistency as you add new content and pages. 
  3. Off-set printing vs. digital printing – which one is better?

Some people have their own preference on printing type. Offset printing is when an image is “burned” onto a plate and then transferred to a rubber pad that rolls ink over the print surface as it goes through the press. It often requires running paper through the press more than once. Digital printing eliminates most of the manual steps outlined above, not unlike the printer you have at home.   So which is better? Well…it depends.   Offset Printing   Pros
-  Best for large print jobs (unit cost goes down as the quantity increases)
-  Higher image quality and resolution
-  Ability to print on various surfaces (paper, textured paper, cloth or metal)
-  More ensured consistency when reprinting a job Cons
-   Slower turnaround time
-  Higher cost for small print jobs   Digital Printing   Pros -  Lower cost for small print runs -  Fast turnaround time Cons -   Limited printing paper surface -   Possibility of streaking and spots with large blocks of color -   PMS colors are difficult to match -  Possibility of inconsistent color when reprinting a job    4.       How long will it take you to design this project?

It is expected that a client, project manager and any non-designer would want to know how long something will take to design. This is a loaded question as timing varies by the scope of the project. Large projects are usually completed in phases, while small projects average a week or two to design. Overall, the timing depends on the collaboration between the designer and project manager and how fast the approval process goes. As a designer, I have learned that a key element is managing expectations. Providing a detailed schedule is important in order to keep everyone informed, especially if I anticipate the project will take longer than two to three weeks. 5.  What is a vector file?   Unlike a raster or bitmap file, which is made up of pixels (or small dots), a vector file is made up of shapes and lines. A vector graphic uses mathematical expressions or coordinates to represent images. In other words, vectors define start and end points and what fills in the space between those points. 

Adobe Illustrator and Freehand are popular programs most commonly used to produce vector files/images. The graphics of a vector are fully scalable­, unlike a bitmap or raster file. Vector files are factions the size of raster files because there is less data needed to create the image. Overall, upon close inspection, the lines on the finished product of a vector file may look more precise and the images are easier to shrink or blow up. That’s why a designer often requests that images be sent as vector files – it makes them easier to resize!
Hopefully this helped answer some of your questions about graphic design! Want to learn more? Email me here! In the meantime, you can check out some of the work Pierpont has designed here.