In a recent post on A List Apart, called In defense of eye candy, the author concludes this about attractive Web site design:
“The more we learn about people, and how our brains process information, the more we learn the truth of that phrase: form and function aren’t separate items. If we believe that style somehow exists independent of functionality, that we can treat aesthetics and function as two separate pieces, then we ignore the evidence that beauty is much more than decoration. Our brains can’t help but agree.”
This wisdom extends to all kinds of visual design beyond Web sites. Keep in mind that 2/3 of all the stimuli that reach the brain are visual, so the appearance of your communications is critical. Pleasing, well done design can play a big role in getting your communications looked at and read—no small feat in this cluttered world.
But many nonprofit staff aren’t trained in visual design and may not know what to look for when they’re judging a designer’s work. Design Eye-Q to the rescue. Got an hour? Here’s a terrific free, 60-minute webinar that takes the mystery out of good design.
One in a series of great nonprofit resources produced by CauseCommunications, it will teach you the 10 questions you need to ask when evaluating new Web pages, e-newsletters, annual reports, direct mail, or any other professionally designed communications. You’ll learn about the different emotions that particular colors convey, what type face to use when, things to consider when you’re designing a logo, why eye patterns are important, and other valuable tips.
After reviewing examples of design evaluated by experts in this webinar, you’ll feel much more confident that you’re making the best design decisions for your organization and your audience. (Plus, it’s fun!)
Once you’ve done the webinar, you might want to check out Donor Power Blog’s Stupid Nonprofit Ads archive and Vincent Flander’s irreverant Web Pages That Suck (his checklists are very useful)–another source for what not to do and why. Then jump over to the Council on Foundation’s annual excellence in communication awards for an archive of some great designs in annual reports, magazines, reports, campaigns, and Web sites. The more examples you see of poorly done and well done designs, the better you’ll be able to judge what designers give you.