Posts Taged design

Free Holiday Fonts

‘Tis the season for festive holiday cards, gift tags and party invitations. In case you’re going the DIY route, here are a few lovely and free holiday fonts that inspire the spirit of the season (without getting too hokey).* Enjoy!

*Please note copyright permissions–all are free for personal use, while only some are free for both personal and commercial use.

Birds of Paradise

birds_of_paradise free holiday fonts

Drop Your Anchor

drop_your_anchor free holiday fonts

Frontage Outline

frontage_outline free holiday fonts

Haymaker

haymaker free holiday fonts

Sweet Pea

sweet_pea free holiday fonts

Homestead Display

homestead free holiday fonts

Have a happy holiday season!

Happy Spring!

enjoying spring

Spring is here, and it’s a sunny Friday to boot! In honor of all the blooming things, here is some beautiful spring-themed design inspiration.

spring-themed design

Illustration by Kamran Sadikhov

spring-themed design

Collateral design by David Davidopoulos and Irene Laschi

spring-themed design

Zine design by Oddds Designers

spring-themed design

Zine design by Oddds Designers

spring-themed design

Invitation/Event design by Red Antler

spring-themed design

Invitation/Event design by Red Antler

spring-themed design

Branding/Collateral design by Carmen

spring-themed design

Branding by Ingrid Picanyol

Enjoy your weekend!

Five Good Design Habits to Practice in 2014

Good Design Habits

Whoa, December already?! On top of all the holiday craziness, December is an important month for businesses to do a bit of planning and goal-setting for the new year. (If New Year’s resolutions are the last thing your business is thinking about right now, bookmark this post to review once you’ve recovered from the holiday rush.) Here are five good design habits to practice throughout next year, to ensure your print and web projects look great in 2014:

1. Take photos

Good Design Habits

Of everything. Events, your products, your employees, your building—nothing is off limits. It will be great to have a library of images to pull from when you need to, and it’s fun documentation of how your company changes over time. If you can afford to hire a professional photographer once a year to update your arsenal, perfect—schedule it and make sure it’s fixed in the budget. Prefer DIY? Point and shoot cameras are fine; just double check that your camera set to its highest resolution. Did you forget to consistently take photos (or didn’t have a year you considered photo-worthy)? Don’t sweat it—just be sure that come budget time, you set aside funds for stock photography. Photos can range from $5 – $500 each, depending on the stock source, so budget accordingly.

2. Know your brand

good design habits

Know where your brand guide is, and use it. If you don’t have one, try to spend an hour or two putting a very simple one together—it will be a great help to your designer. A basic style guide will include your logo versions, brand colors, and fonts, as well as any characteristic layout/graphic considerations that represent your brand. You can throw it together in Word—it doesn’t matter. Just pulling your brand assets together in one place so it’s ready to hand off at a moment’s notice is one of the good design habits and will help your designer or marketing team hit the ground running.

3. Love your logo

good design habits

Make sure your logo is good to go: you should have it in vector format as an EPS, AI, or PDF file. High-quality JPEG and PNG versions are good to have on hand, as well. Make sure to request vector logos from all your partners/vendors who may be featured alongside you in print or web, and keep them on file. If you only have JPEG or PNG versions of your logo, bite the bullet and have a designer rebuild your logo in vector format—it’s essential to ensuring it is clean and sharp in print.

4. Collect inspiration

good design habits

Time to channel your inner packrat: see something you like? Save it! Keep a file of all the websites or print materials that have caught your eye—take pictures, hoard items received in the mail, make a Pinterest board. When it comes time to get a designed piece to market your brand, providing your designer with visual preferences and aspirations will help spark project ideas. Plus it’s a great exercise in determining your style preferences—even if you can’t put into words what your design style is, your inspiration collection will start to reveal your design personality.

4. Keep a tidy library

good design habitsgood design habits

Always keep copies of native files from past projects—make sure to request them from your designer at project close (you may want to mention this requirement at the start of a project, in case he/she has contractual specifics around artwork rights/ownership.) Keep your native files organized by project type, and ready to hand off for reference or as a starting point for revision work. Any fonts and graphics used in the project should be kept, as well.

 

Marketing yourself should be fun, not stressful! Having good design habits and keeping your design assets organized and up-to-date will result in cost-effective, low-stress, relevant, and impactful design work in 2014. Cheers!

Beyond the piechart: Infographics’ rising popularity

good infographic

They’re everywhere lately: infographics. There are beautiful examples, and there are terrible examples. But I must say, I love a good infographic. As a designer with a passion for reading and learning, these graphics are the perfect blend of content and design, hard facts and artful interpretation. And when done well, these graphics become a handy marketing tool—one that is both educational and engaging.

We are bombarded with information every day; we are increasingly forced to digest and act on information FAST in order to keep up with the speed at which technologies are changing how we do business. Grabbing attention, then inspiring content-sharing is a must when it comes to modern marketing. A compelling infographic is highly shareable, and it also creates a virtual “keepsake” for a brand (don’t get me wrong–a branded pen is great, but a cool, inspiring graphic/message that I can print out and keep on my desk creates for me a stronger emotional tie with a given brand.) Infographics allow a business the opportunity to tell a story or share its mission, in a concise and visually attractive format.

A good infographic will present complex information clearly, allowing the reader to quickly review and digest the material. That’s where so many poorly executed examples fall flat; they’re too complex, difficult to follow, muddied by ugly typography or colors, or they fail to stay focused on the core message. But a good infographic can make even the most mundane or silly topic eye-catching, and before you know it, you’ve learned all there is to know about a winning rock-paper-scissors strategy:

How to win at Rock-Paper-Scissors, according to cha cha.com

How to win at Rock-Paper-Scissors, according to cha cha.com

Sure, it’s non-essential information. And I don’t know where they got their data. But it’s something that will likely be shared on social media, because it’s a quick, fun read about a game we’ve ALL played. And as you can see, the graphic elements can be super simple—line art and some well-balanced typography could be all you need.

So many people are visual learners. You may get true readers to download a whitepaper, but you will catch a broader swath of viewers with visuals. Visual aids have been a key element of sales pitches throughout history. Did you know that Florence Nightingale leveraged infographics to help make her case to Queen Victoria, to improve hospital conditions during the Crimean War?

Making her case. Florence Nightingale used infographics, too.

Making her case. Florence Nightingale used infographics, too.

These graphics can be incredibly elegant and detailed, even poster-worthy:

National Geographic has long been a master at infographics.

National Geographic has long been a master at infographics.

They can be ridiculously technical, and impossibly dense (I think it looks cool, but is it useful? Maybe after a long study…so I would argue it’s not the most effective):

There's a lot going on here. Technical elements look great, but this graphic requires time to dissect.

There’s a lot going on here. Technical elements look great, but this graphic requires time to dissect.

They can incorporate crazy amounts of color:

use COLOR!

use COLOR!

Or they can fully embrace the style of the artist creating them, like this beautiful hand-drawn example from chalk artist Olivia King:

good infographic

A graphic all about inks…drawn in chalk.

Now, let’s be clear: well-done infographics are not fast or cheap to create, and should be handled by a professional. A designer will create a layout that allows the content to flow correctly, and one which incorporates graphic elements that support and highlight key content pieces, as well as eye-catching typography and a color palette that leverages existing brand rules, all while pushing artistic limits where appropriate. (Please, no clip art or poorly kerned type!) But such a piece could be considered a branded investment; it will be shared, printed, referenced, and potentially utilized as a visual aid during presentations and sales pitches.

I love maps, and maybe that’s another reason infographics appeal to me. They provide a little “You are here” for the reader beginning to navigate their way through all the information you have to share. Where will they go next? You can guide potential customers straight to the [hopefully not so hidden] treasure that is your business.

(I know, I just wrote a bunch of words about visuals. So to get really meta, I’ll sign off with an infographic about infographics…)

Press Association's infographic about good infographics.

Press Association’s infographic about infographics.

The Future of Retail . . .

The Future of Retail

Last night I attended a Portland Design Week panel discussion on the future of retail. It wasn’t quite what I expected, as the discussion skewed more towards what retailers could do to increase value for their consumers through services and technology, rather than the more design-oriented aspect of the retail experience (space, visuals, product display, in-store communications), but it did raise some interesting food for thought. Panelists from Nordstorm Innovation Lab, REI and Ziba discussed everything from the rise of e-commerce, Amazon and dreaded OMNICHANNEL, to technological innovation, their biggest successes and inspirations and what they hope for the future.

The take-home message was that retailers, innovators and designers need to continue to think of new ways to stay competitive by adding more value to the consumer experience. Does that mean that you provide personal stylists that will consult with you via text as you put together your outfit for the evening, a la Nordstorm? Find a way to eliminate check-out lines as the REI panelist suggested, while uncovering new ways to get local influencers to hang out in your store? Do you scramble to implement the latest technology advances that will put you just ahead of the curve? Or do you hunker down, eschew the push to look like the next big thing and create a special community through a really great space, quality products and personalized, friendly service?

I don’t know. But it did make me think about the ways that all businesses, retail or not, should really be thinking about the services and value they provide, the ways that customers experience and interact with their business and how and whether they’re using technology to provide those services. With the lightning fast turnover of trends and ever-increasing technology options, I think there’s real opportunity to be deliberate about what you’re doing, choose your path with conviction, and stick to what’s most important to your business. I’m excited to see what the future of retail will look like, and for that matter, everything else.