May 15, 2023No Comments

Adapt and Change

How did the internet change graphic design?

The internet has made a massive difference in the graphic design industry. The marketing landscape has changed a lot, leading to a change in consumer behaviour. And all of this has meant that designers have had to adapt and change to not only keep up with trends but to take into account advancing technology and things like social media.

Looking back at the early to mid-eighties, online communities and digital marketing were unheard of. We were still living in a world where print advertising was king, and consumers relied on newspapers and magazines to learn about products and services.

Even into the nineties and the early noughties, graphic designers were still developing the majority of their skills in print media, such as brochures, flyers, posters, and traditional advertising – though we were starting to see an obvious shift with businesses starting to pick up on banner ads as the internet as a whole began to be more accessible and widely used. And that is where the biggest changes started to happen.

The print advertising age

In the old days, we used to get things printed to send out in the post or design a brochure or ad, aiming to make a better impression than other designers doing the same for their clients. Businesses would then follow up, usually by telephone, to build a rapport and sell something. It was methodical, extremely well-targeted, and awfully slow and expensive.

Back then, a lot of people were used to having a daily paper through their door, as well as print magazine subscriptions, many of which came with little flyers tucked into the covers selling all sorts of goodies. You still see them sometimes, but nowadays, most people, particularly the younger generations, have forgone print media and get their information mainly on the web.

There is, however, an interesting overlap…

The new print age (yes, there is one!)

People nowadays are so much savvier when it comes to how they buy. We no longer trust traditional advertising – most people would rather not be sold to in that sense. With all of the information available online, it’s a lot easier to research products and services, and most of us will do at least some research online before we decide on our purchases.

That shows in modern print design. If you see flyers, brochures and advertisements that are produced these days, in most cases, they’re not trying to sell you something. Instead, they will direct you to some online source to research or learn more about the company or the product. It’s less about selling and more about sharing information.

The world now, like it or not, is online. So businesses invest a lot of time and money in getting their print material to guide people to their websites and online spaces – where they can build relationships and communities that will eventually buy from them. Online is where sales happen – not so much advertising in print.

Modern graphic design

Businesses need a strong online presence to succeed, with websites being the most essential tool for building sales. Social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram are vital for growing audiences and guiding people to those websites.

From a graphic design point of view, not only have the tools we use advanced massively, but many graphic designers now have chosen to focus more on on-screen design, like websites and online/social ads. Many graphic designers now sell themselves as ‘web designers’ and specialise only in that area.

It’s no longer about designing to sell. Nowadays, it’s all digital – website design, social media posts etc. And the main focus is now much more statistics. We measure the success of a design by how many likes it has, how many people have viewed it, and how many times it’s been shared.

We no longer have tangible items to admire; instead, we focus on creating images that will achieve a clicked button as a way of admiration.

That’s where our efforts must be. Our designs must be able to ‘stop the scroll’ and encourage people to follow the path from a graphic to a website to a sales cart. And that’s a whole different skill.

Has the internet killed print design?

I don’t believe that’s the case at all. The internet has changed print design, but print is still a big part of most businesses' marketing strategy – it’s just that it’s moved away from the ‘Sell! Sell! Sell!’, and instead needs to nurture and guide the audience to build relationships online through social media graphics and quality web design.

Although many designers now put much of their effort into digital design, I think those who can adapt to both print and digital are perhaps well-placed to future-proof the industry. Businesses will always require a mixture of both, so if we can offer that, we can be that ‘go-to’ for many different types of business.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you design predominantly for digital? I’d love to hear your views.

January 22, 2021No Comments

Using graphics in social media in 2021

Compared to 10 years ago, when social media was still in its infancy, how we use it has changed dramatically. Back then, we only knew about Facebook, and as a platform, it was used in a much simpler, more personal way – we didn’t utilise it for business until more recently.

Looking at how things are today, we have a much more diverse landscape. There are several additional players, including Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Pinterest – and within those, there are several ways to communicate, with things like Stories being rolled out to almost every major social channel.

Over the years, social media platforms have become much more visual. As we scroll through our various social feeds, we will likely see less text and more images. Marketers have realised that having well-placed images on their social feeds helps to increase engagement – particularly now that most of us are using our phones.

In response to this, many new developments in online tech have allowed the average user to find their own images and even create their own. Apps like Canva are becoming the go-to for creating images and infographics that can be used on all social media platforms. There are plenty of websites where you can purchase stock images for content marketing.

I’ll get back to some of these a bit later. Still, I wanted to touch upon some of the ways we can use graphics in social media, some trends and fresh techniques, and the differences in using online tools versus having custom images created by a designer.

Why are images important for social media posts?

We process images much more quickly than words, so when we’re scrolling through our social channels, we’ll naturally pause when we see something stimulating our senses. Pictures, in particular colours, can convey messages to us on a different level.

In saying that, because there are so many images to process online, we need to plan what we post with care and attention. Finding that key element will not only stand out enough to make the viewer stop scrolling to take a closer look but allow them to instantly recognise you through that imagery. That will help create that ‘know, like, trust factor which is so important on social media.

Planning your social media images

It used to be adequate for us to take a snap and post it to our social media platforms when we felt like it. That’s no longer the case. If we want to get noticed online, we have a lot of competition; therefore, we need to plan out what we share and how we share it.

Social images, and social content as a whole, should fall into common categories, namely;

  • Entertainment
  • Educational
  • Inspirational
  • Thought-provoking

Think about how you want the viewer to react when they see the image. Do you want them to take a particular action, like clicking through to your website or blog post? Does it serve to give them a piece of information or news about your business? Does it help them in some way or encourage them to open a conversation with you?

There’s a huge trend, especially on Instagram, which is all about imagery. There will be some images that you might feel don’t fit into any of those categories – but if you’ve set them up correctly, then at the very least, they will serve as a recognition piece. Having a recognisable ‘pattern’ to the grid, and even a brand overlay, ensures that the brand has its own ‘look’, therefore being recognised by the viewer.

Suppose you can tie the overall look of your social images with other mediums, like your website and printed material. In that case, this will all work together as part of your branding, an important factor for content creation.

Stock Images or Professional Graphic Designer?

I get that many businesses want to have the ability to take ownership of how they post on social media, and part of that is being able to either use stock images or create images of their own. And there’s nothing wrong with that – if you have a clear idea and strategy in place.

The trouble is, many people don’t, and if you’re not careful, you could end up with a scatter-gun approach across your content marketing, which can be off-putting for your audience.

It all comes down to branding – and you must get it right across the board. It’s likely that you’ve paid someone to create your website, and tie all of your branding together, so don’t allow your social media to let it all down.

Yes, perhaps having a graphic designer on-call to create images every time you want to upload to your social media channels is overkill, but if you can get a set of templates, overlays, and brand colours set up and on hand, at least then you’ll have something to work with.

If you decide to use stock images (or take your own photographs), at least have some kind of consistency which will let your viewers know they are your images.

Get in touch if you’d like help or advice about anything you’ve read in this article. We’d be happy to help.

©1973–2023 Tony Clarkson
&Something Studio is a design studio based, but no way trapped, in Shrewsbury. Shrewsbury has trains and roads which lead both in and out.