Tips for InDesign that I hope I had known when I was a beginner (Part 1)

I had no idea about how to use InDesign to complete my design work two years ago. What I knew at that time was the functions of each tools on the left sidebar. But, I knew nothing about about secret shortcut keys no mention to tips and tricks. And I know, most of you must be the same as me that we do not want to spend thirty minutes even longer to watch a super slow and boring Youtube tutorial video. Therefore, let me give you just a little treat about what you should be really careful about and what you would be better to know.

IMAGE FORMAT

Image format! Image format! Image format! It should be the most important thing you should know when you start out. InDesign indeed can import many formats for images that include JPEG, PNG, EPS, PICT, PDF, PSD and TIFF but you should know which format you need to use. If you want your work to be printed then you should make sure that they are in the acceptable format such as EPS, TIFF and PDF and stick with them.

MARGINS

Besides, make sure that your work is NO HIGHER than 100% of your size or you will be regret because they will be printed out as many separate papers. Normally, your printer will give you the measurements for the bleed but usually only 3mm or 1/8 inch should suffice. So, just set up the margins, bleed and the paper size for your work at the very beginning.

COLOR MODE

And to be safe, try to avoid JPEG because it is the format that is set as low-resolution. Then you should check that your work have the resolution of 300 PPI (pixels per inch) and always double check that the work is saved as CMYK color mode. Most of the images are set as RGB color mode at the beginning but after editing, we would better set them as CMYK because it is the most stable and color mode for printing.

I believe that most of handy and effective tips usually come from people’s personal experience. But if you still are looking for useful library of skills. I recommend Adobe InDesign CC for tutorials. They provide official key techniques for beginners.

 

 

 

Fact sheet, fact sheet and fact sheet.

I am taking the J452 of the school of journalism in the University of Oregon this term for advanced writing. One of the tasks is about investor fact sheet. I chose the computer sciences corporation to be my hypothetical client. So, this is what I have done:

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What I have leaned about fact sheet is that we usually use a clear list to show the facts. Be clean and be clear. However, this kind of fact sheet can be a different communicational way to list the significant facts of your clients. It is a little bit similar with Infographic to tell a visual story. But they are different because you still need a formal way to introduce the fact. The blog Investorfactsheetblog introduces how to use Infographic to do the investor fact sheet. It perhaps will give you some ideas about your work but don’t forget that it is still a fact sheet for a company.  I cannot say which kind is better but it is undeniable to say that the combination of words and charts, the choices of color and the way of showing story sometimes are better than only plain words. Let me talk more about what I have leaned from this assignment. The most important thing you should remember in mind for the fact sheet is the story. The story of your client.

The story will provide the company’s history. The story will prove why the investors should choose you. The story will show what you have done already. The story will earn your investors’ attention. And the story will win their confidence. That is why a smooth story if important.

In order to offer a good story. The fact sheet would better include these elements.

A significant heading about the foundation and history of your client. It better includes the basic information such as the number of employees, the introduction of executive officers and other background.

Your company’s financial highlights, such as the trend of stock price and the data of their cash flow performance.

The portfolio of your clients’ current and past products. And their plan for their new products.

And don’t forget the contact information and the future outlook.

This is much harder than a list of fact sheet. You need to let yourself be a strategic thinker, an excellent writer and a professional designer. You should let the portfolio and the data of finance talk. I am still learning and still working hard to be trained. This is not easy, so you should try.

 

Four basic design principles you should know (Part 2)

Alright, last time we talked about the principles about Position and Proportion. As we mentioned before, the other two principles of design are Unity and Big Picture. Let’s see how do they work.

Unity:

Unity is all about how do we make the design all go together. If everything  looks exactly the same, that will be boring. And the most important thing is that will not help us to reach the goal of communication objective. Therefore, in order to effectively achieve the communication goal. We prefer the skills about using repetition of design elements, contrasts and balances of those elements.

A Good Example:

 

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This is a wine label. It achieves consistency in its design. Since the name is called Duck Commander, it uses ducks as a part of its design. All the ducks looks similar but different because of the balanced use of color contrast and repetition. The use of gold and orange text and the design about the repetition of ducks make this post all go together and achieves unity successfully.

Turn to the BIG Picture part, the blog VisualCommunication suggests that the “big picture” isn’t a traditional principle of design but should be the design decisions that are based on three considerations of the communication objective: message, audience and medium. We wanna make the design be communicational and easy to understand. Besides, law and ethics are two final considerations of the big picture. We should make sure that all the photographs, pictures, designs and edits are legal and follow the copyright or trademark law.

Example:

For these examples, I will focus on their designs about communication perspective because they should not have any illegal issues.

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This is a bad example for a wind label. Perhaps it catches audiences’ attention easily because of the color and the animals. However, consumers cannot find any useful information immediately from the label even from the back. From the communication perspective, this label fails to deliver effective message to the audiences.

From the communicational perspective, a wine label should be clear with the name of chateau, the place of production, the kind of wine and the year clearly and simply. Such as this one:

无标题And the most important is that the label delivers an environment friendly message to the audiences by the picture of King Estate and the grape leaf. It let the consumers feel the clean environment of Oregon and the chateau through the picture. So it achieves the goal from both aesthetic perspective and communicational perspective.

 

How the internet is uniting the world by controlling our life

I have to say that I am controlled by the internet and I don’t care if it unites the world. The article How the internet is uniting the world reminds me the power of internet and I suddenly realize that I usually spend around 10 hours in the internet everyday.

Well, the example at the beginning of the article is really impressive. This story spread the world rapidly and I remember that I was in China at that time and this story was included by Weibo (a Chinese microblogging website, akin to Twitter)’s popular topics for a while. Exactly, today’s internet and social media platforms can easily help people, do charity and gain attention. However, it controls my life! It is controlling people’s lives. And it is hard to say that is good or bad.

I usually wake up at 7 am. and then find my phone, choose a song from iTunes and then get up to wash my face and brush my teeth along to the music. And then I update my Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Weibo while waiting for the bus. When I am at campus, I need to log in and see my instructor’s blog because her lecture is on her blog. Then I get homework. I do research online. I find material online. I complete my paper and I should turn it in online. I go back home finally. Take a rest and see if there are any new songs are released in iTunes by the way. Later my mom contacts with me by snapchat and then we connect our FaceTime. I cannot imagine my life without internet, computer and smartphone. And I bet many people cannot neither.

The internet is uniting the world. Most of countries have their own social media platforms, which are similar with each other. Many impressive stories were about how people use the power of internet to help people or how adopted children find their biological parents by the power of internet. Lots of people care about hot topics, hashtags or popular readings online. The power of internet is huge and it is still increasing. It helps people. It unites the world but it also controls people’s lives. Perhaps we should also see the harmful part of internet that include internet violence, cyberbully and addiction as well as the time we have spent in the internet every single day.

I am going to take some time to enjoy the sunshine and the nature.

Four basic design principles you should know (Part 1)

There are many principles of design shared in the Internet such as balance, emphasis, movement, pattern, variety, rhythm and so on. However, from what I have leaned and researched till now, I agree with my teacher’s approach about the four principles of design that include proportion, position, unity and big picture. These four principles are more useful for successful visual communication.

For this post, I will only introduce the first two principles.

Proportion: 

Imagine everything in a picture is the same size. What do you think? I would day that is boring. And the thing is that it doesn’t provide any important information because communication needs dominant points. So the proportion can guide the consumers or other target audiences to get the information that you want them to get. In this way, you should think about how big or small every item should be. We don’t want everything is the same size. We don’t want everything is too close neither too far.

Let’s see a good example:

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I say this is a good example for the use of proportion because it has very clear dominant focal point, which is that the Duck After Dark will provide film “Mad Max: Fury Road” on October 8th. The picture of film and the text of details divide the post equally. In this way, it catches audiences’ attention and guides them through the content successfully.

Position:

When we consider about the position, we usually need to determine where to put elements or items on the page. How relative the items are? How close together or far apart are they?

If the items are related such as date, time and location, we would better put them close to one another and fall along the same visual line. I found a one-scentence useful suggestion from the blog Visual Communication. It says “You should have a definitive reason for the position of each item on the page”. Don’t you think this suggestion is useful? Let’s see an example as well:

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This one is a good example. All the information about getting the dose follows the middle line. Besides, the relative information such as date, place and time is put together by same color in the middle in order to remind audiences easily. And other more professional and complicated information about meningitis is introduced a little bit at the bottom. All the items get the right positions reasonable and the post effectively reminds people to get the doses.

But, how about the next one?

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The information is simple but the distance between unrelated information and the position of related information are unreasonable. For example, the related information about time is not put together and does not follow a visual line. But the unrelated information about sponsors is put very close to the other main information. So it can be a messy post because of information’s improper position.

I hope these examples can help you to understand the principles about Proportion and Position.

What are brought out by Emojis?

My mom just warned me by text that she thought I should start to care about my weight because I have gained six pounds already this autumn. Don’s you think this is a sad message for me? And then I just replied her an emoji to show my broken heart. It is undeniable to say that the emoji of broken heart fits me well when I am heart broken and have nothing to say.

In the recent post Infographic: Emojis Are Becoming a Preferred Communication Tool Across Demographics, Carrie Cummings used data and infographic to demonstrate emoji as a communication tool. What role are Emojis playing in our life? How do they become a communication tool? There are two important messages transferred by Carrie’s post. One is that almost everyone uses emojis. The other one is that brands can do advertising successfully by them.

For me, these are the two most interesting and important reasons that why emojis are becoming a preferred communication tool with a strong power of influence.

Under the power of its influence, companies start to use emojis to build and update their company images. Take Apple to be an example, the updated IOS systems offered radicalized emojis to the users in order to advocate racial inclusivity. Although this innovation caused a lot of debates about racial segregation and brought more problems to the company, Apple still successfully gained the attention from the public and motivated more curious users to update their system to see what was going on there. Besides, it also effectively build its image as a company that care about race. This is the information that Apple want to bring out to gain attention and they chose emoji as the communication bridge.

At the same time, as I mentioned before, emoji also provide business, organizations and brands a platform to do their advertising. I can still remember the first time when I tried emojis, I was surprised by the logos of brands such as the f of Facebook, the bird of Twitter, the Polaroid of Instagram and the fried chips of McDonald’s and so on. I have to say that I like these emojis of logos and these kind of ads are clever and efficient for me.

Perhaps those information and functions of emojis will keep bring benefits to the companies and emojis will also keep becoming more and more popular as a communication tool. Not only because they are colorful, fun and convenient but also they are helpfully ambiguous, efficiently informational and easy to draw public attention.

Draw by Yunshu. 10, 8, 2015.
Draw by Yunshu. 10, 8, 2015.

Design as a form of communication.

I used to think that design is all about creative, attractive and fashion work. I believe there are still a lot of people think that a designer must be different, creative and good at art or painting. This is actually true, a designer should get inspired from life and sometimes indeed need to provide special ideas. However, for me, from a communication perspective, a good designer should be always know who are their audiences and how to communicate with them by design whether they are good at painting or not.

People go out to eat, get menus, order food according to the pictures, check their watch while waiting appetizer, look at ads while enjoying the food, pay the bills and take receipts before leaving. Few of us noticed that all the menus, ads, bills, receipts and watches are included as visual communication design.

Then you may ask, what is visual communication design exactly? Any definitions?

I don’t like definitions but like the conclusion that made by myself according to what I have leaned and what I have experienced.

From my point of view, in brief, any design that can be used to deliver ideas and communicate with audiences, is counted as a form of visual communication.

Is it necessary? Is it important? Why does it become to be a topic?

I have to admit that the more I learn about visual communication design, the more I believe that it is necessary for today’s society. In such a society with advanced information network, companies and brands need to identify their brand images to see how to earn attention and optimal impression from their audiences effectively. Publishers and editors have to decide the style of typesetting, the layout and the size of publications so that consumers can enjoy the reading experience and are willing to support the publishers in the future. Animators and photographers have to consider how to use the pictures, graphics and music to evoke audiences’ emotion in order to gain credits and popularity. And undoubtedly, people who work for areas of advertising and public relations must think about how to use the principles of strategic design to let consumers like to make purchases after promotion or changed their perceptions after persuasion.

So the visual communication design is almost everywhere around our life. Some people are exploring about how to use it efficiently and some people are influenced by it gradually.

Let’s observe the use of visual communication design around us carefully and think how can we use it successfully. And I would like to discuss about it in the next post.

Don’t forget, design is about how it works.

Yunshu

Friday, Eugene

Check it out!

Click and enjoy these fabulous informative designs and think what messages have they provided.

http://www.informationisbeautiful.net

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Taken by Yunshu. 8/29/2014, California State Route 1