The design process is typically linear. Steps include the initial brief, research, roughs, and so on. Along the way are basic components (or elements) that designers must consider and factor into every distinctive design solution.
Components of a Successful Design Solution
Time/Budget: The most concrete of graphic design components, defining it as an applied art with constraints.
Content: What needs to be included in the communication being made.
Form: The shape a design takes based on the content it needs to convey.
Function: The basic determination of a project’s goals. For example, a promotion for an event will have, as its main objective, to convince people to attend. Function defines the direction a design will take.
Structure: A hierarchy to the audience: what to see and read first, then second, third, and so on. Every design benefits from some kind of structure or planned order to convey information.
Usefulness: A practical consideration to make the design useful for the audience. Usefulness can include many aspects. For example, an edgy aesthetic with distressed type might be useful for a music magazine, but not for instructions on a medicine bottle, which must be in a clear, easily readable typeface.
Aesthetics: The way a design looks, which can attract or repel the audience. Aesthetics is tied to usefulness in this way. An environmentally friendly product that is packaged with a cold, industrial aesthetic isn’t going to connect as logically as one that is packaged using earth tones and organic shapes. A design that is tough or sweet, mundane or exciting, should be made with the subject and audience in mind. Remember, though, that aesthetics can be a matter of taste and are influenced by cultural norms. You need to know your audience and the context in which your work will be seen.
Distinction: The ways a design can be different from all that is around it. We are bombarded with all sorts of messages and images. Your design must somehow stand out. If a wall full of posters shouts, a unique quality might be achieved by one that whispers. The ephemeral nature of graphic design offers the possibility for distinction to be made by what a design does (it is functional, structured, useful, and aesthetic), but also by what it doesn’t do.