Content is Crucial - Part 4: the graphic designer



For the final post in the Content is Crucial series, I had a coffee and a chat with graphic designer Adam Murray from creative agency GRVTY™. I work regularly with Adam on digital content for a mutual client. I asked him about the content challenges he faces and for his top tips on building a successful business relationship with a graphic designer.

What does great content look like to a graphic designer?

For me, great content is succinct and valuable to the target audience. It shouldn’t be too wordy or you’ll risk your reader getting bored. There is skill involved in translating a text document into something that’s visually appealing. My job is made easier when I have a variety of content to work with; that allows for flexibility within the design and utilises the space well, for example, video or statistics that I can turn into a diagram or infographic.

What are your main challenges when working with client content?

Content that’s poorly written that goes into too much detail or is littered with spelling or grammatical errors. If I see a glaring error I will edit it for the client, but it’s always safer and makes more commercial sense to have it written by a professional.

At what stage does content become crucial in a design?

It depends on the project. For brand new materials I like to have an idea of what content is required during the briefing stage. Once I understand the project context and know how much copy to expect I can go away to do some research and produce concepts to fit the brief. The crucial stage for copy is when you’ve chosen your preferred design – this is when the copy will be laid into your design and begins to come to life.

Do you work with a copywriter on a regular basis?

In an ideal world I would work with a copywriter on every job I do! It makes the whole creative process more manageable and professional. A copywriter understands the aims and objectives of the project, knows their audience, and gets what the client needs. Copy produced by the client is not always the most creative and they are often too close to the subject to understand what their audience needs. If I’m working with a copywriter it means I can spend time adding value where it counts.

How can content help or hinder the design process?

Having quality copy from the outset makes for a quick and easy project turnaround. Poor content slows down the design process, often because I’m going back to the client with new versions and dealing with requests for additional amends. I can create the best design in the world but if the content is poor, the end result will lack impact.

How important is it to have a variety of content?

Good copy scans well. A mix of content types helps with the scanning process and makes it easier to read. Using statistics, quotes, interesting headings, page breaks and different sizes of font adds interest to any document. The most important thing is to allow the document to flow and ensure it’s relevant to the target audience.

What’s the best way to choose a graphic designer?

There are lots of designers out there with a variety of skills, specialisms and expertise. I get the majority of my clients through recommendations so my first tip would be to ask friends and colleagues for a referral. Otherwise, talk to a range of people either over the phone, or better still, in person, to find the one with the right experience and skillset for your requirements.

Do you have any tips for small businesses who are working with a graphic designer for the first time?

  1. Take a step back and evaluate what you want from your designer. Consider your audience and objectives and brief your designer fully to ensure they understand your expectations.

  2. Listen to your designer. Remember they are experienced and may be able to add value to your project in terms of new ideas and advice on how your communications might be received in the marketplace.

  3. Provide a quality brief. A good design brief is a rare thing! Share examples of designs you like but try to keep an open mind and give the designer scope to be creative and come up with original ideas.

  4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions at any stage of the process.

  5. Set realistic deadlines. You’ll need to build in time for design work, reviews, and print production so set deadlines that are achievable for all parties.

  6. Stretch your budget or your brief. Creative designs will help your business stand out from the crowd. Be prepared to spend that little extra on a quality paper, foils or embossing to lift your document and make it more attractive to the end user.

Adam Murray is the owner and chief designer of GRVTY™, a creative agency that turns great ideas into outstanding designs with tangible results. Use the force of GRVTY™ to bring your business closer to your customers through print, branding, advertising and digital design. Visit grvty.co.uk to view Adam’s portfolio.


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