There are times when you must create a graphic that will be used in many different places and mediums. When an image is used for multiple purposes, you must consider each instance of the graphic and how it will look larger, smaller, and even on different backgrounds and devices. You also need to think about the different screen resolutions and sizes available.
Smartphones are everywhere. The Ericsson Mobility Report 2018 found there are 7.9 billion mobile subscriptions worldwide, reaching 104% subscription rates. The high number is due to some people owning multiple devices.
Your job as a graphic designer is to create visual elements that work no matter where the person accesses the illustrative feature. Here are eight tips to help you create graphics that adapt to any purpose.
Scalable vector graphics (SVG) allow you to create an image that can be scaled up or down without sacrificing quality. Because SVG looks the same in any size, it is the perfect choice for responsive web design. However, those creating graphics for larger ads, such as a billboard, also prefer SVG for its superior performance at high pixels. Even if you are designing for a smaller scale, a format that resizes easily helps with responsiveness to different screen sizes.
Before you create the graphic, think about the style guide for the brand. What specifics are outlined as far as where different elements go on a page? If you’re creating a logo, there may be some specifics on how the colour and format you use can impact the way shades appear on different mediums. Utilising Pantone ensures your colours are always the same. The style guide may also outline the placement of elements such as a logo, which can further help you see what will and won’t work in a finished model.
Packing too many elements into a design results in a cluttered look in smaller sizes. Go for simple designs that look as good blown up as shrunk down. If you plan to create directional signs, don’t add too many instructions. Use images to convey your message instead, such as an arrow icon or a single word.
The type that looks great on your desktop computer may look fuzzy on a mobile device. Spend time looking at how well a font sizes up and down. There is nothing wrong with choosing a similar style that lacks serifs or has fewer decorative elements. Sometimes the more unusual fonts add interest but simply don’t adapt well to height and width changes.
What happens to your design if someone mirrors it or moves it sideways? Obviously, some images simply don’t adapt well to being flipped on the side, so you may need to create an additional graphic to handle that option. Think about every possible positioning someone might use with the visual and test out how it looks.
When in doubt, blow up the size of the graphic and step back from your design. What does it look like from a distance? Think about how far away people are likely to be when they see the image. If you’re designing a sign for a trade show or a shopping centre, people may view it from different distances, such as at the end of an aisle and then right under the sign. Think about how it looks from several viewpoints and adjust contrast or other elements that don’t pop off the page.
The average person looks at your display for only a couple of seconds. Think of this as a quick glance. Does your design get the message across swiftly, or is it too complicated to grab interest? Step back and give your design space a quick look as though you’re a passerby. Do you get the gist of the message, or doe things need to be made more clear?
People love to make fun of logos that come across in a different way than the creator intended. People are currently laughing over Amazon’s swoosh logo, and there are countless examples of designers not seeing the bigger picture. Spend time looking at the image from different angles. If you normally don’t see dirty messages, then enlist the help of a friend who does to make sure you aren’t conveying something you shouldn’t.
It’s also a good idea to run the finished example in different sizes past several people so they can ensure there aren’t any issues with the way the visual comes across. It’s better to be safe than sorry. The last thing you want is to design something that sends out the wrong message.
Before you start your design, chat with a company’s leadership about the possible different uses for the image. There are times when a graphic has one main purpose and isn’t likely to be used elsewhere. Understanding the various potential applications of a design allows you to ensure it works in a variety of situations.
However, if the company never plans to do billboard advertising, then you may not have to worry about scaling to such a large size. Pay attention to the needs of the company, and the image will adapt nicely to the purposes the brand has for it.