A communication framework for web platforms in our busy world.
Our way of communication (expressions, styles, character) determines what people think of us, both offline and online.
Meeting you on one of your “good days ” is going to give a very different impression of you versus meeting you on a “bad day.”
The same goes with meeting you virtually, i.e., your website or online profile.
The way you present yourself has direct influences on your viewers. And whether this is a good thing or and unfair thing, viewers are making quick judgments based on what they can find of people and companies online.
I’ve been tackling communication and web design for a while. And while every website uses a unique set of styles, colors, fonts and graphics for any individual or business, certain design goals are at the core of every creation we make.
I started thinking about this more recently. What types of design patterns are visible in all our creations?
While heading to Brussels on the train, I decided I want to start formulating these patterns into our design framework.
There are great frameworks and tools available for communication design, but I wanted to create our own in the language we speak. What matters to our clients and us.
The Birth of ABC Communication Design
I was looking for a definition of design and found this one to sum up the practice, “Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as to best accomplish a particular purpose.” – Charles Eames
Communication design has many parts to it, but the core includes:
- Developing a messaging.
- Improving the design of the message for various communication channels.
- Developing new methods to make help your message reach more of your target audience.
In other words, communication design is about making sure you’re heard and understood by the right people.
I’m a fan of trying to make things simple. And so I came up with the ABCs of communication design from the busy world where we emphasize three areas: anticipative, beneficial and consistent.
I’ll explain them one by one
ABCs of Communication Design Breakdown
Be relevant to your audience in the blink of an eye
You, me, everyone. We are BUSY. The pace of life is faster than ever, and it’s a struggle to keep up with everything, especially with technology bubbling up around us. Our inboxed are flooded. We skip commercial. We ignore banners. We have more messages coming at us than we can process.
….breathe. I know the feeling.
That’s our daily lives, and because of this, we have built defense mechanisms to ignore a lot of these communications.
And so how can we design communication to stand a chance of being viewed?
We aim for our designs to be anticipative, meaning that from the moment a user interacts with your web platform for the first time, the users should already have a sense of what you’re about, how to find desired information and confirmation that he or she is the right place.
People spend at most 5 seconds on new websites to determine if they should continue reading or leave. If they leave, they won’t be coming back.
We need to our designs to be instantaneously understood by the target audience to confirm that they are in the right space and more likely to explore further.
Go beyond the noise by communicating on value
To win someone’s time, you need to earn it.
It’s annoying when strangers try to sell us things we don’t need. But what about when they mention a solution a problem or something we genuinely care about?
We start listening.
That’s because there is a possible benefit to receive.
“Beneficial” is about designing your platform to help users get value. And this is a combination of knowledge and structure.
When you are calling out solutions to problem areas or targeting areas that your audiences care about, they will open up to you.
And the same goes with your structure. As you continually improve to make it easier for your audience to access this knowledge, you will be able to have greater impacts.
- Websites tailored to desktops, tablets, mobile phones
- Mobile apps that provide notifications ONLY to things that your audience wants
Being beneficial is the motivator to keep coming back as well as being discussed through word of mouth.
To stay top-of-mind on communication channels
What do you picture when I say McDonald’s, Nike, Apple.
Do you imagine a logo? A product? Or do you even feel a sort of character?
When I think of McDonald’s, I think of their gold arches, red and yellow colors, and a Big Mac, without hesitation.
This is the power of consistency. Repeat something over and over, and it can become memorable. In design, this is why we do things like:
- create a style guide
- use only two and three colors and font styles
- keep your mission flowing in everything you do.
McDonald’s has kept their advertisements, products, and customer experience extremely consistent over the decades. Over time, they adapt their messaging to be heard on newer communication channels, but their message remains the same.
ABC “yeah you know me.”
My goal of this framework is that it highlight our design focus we carry throughout every project.
Hopefully communicating a systemized approach will eventually become engrained in our minds and be memorable to all our clients.
Every designer has their style. This is ours.