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 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 a design useful for its audience. Usefulness can include many aspects, for example, typography with an “edgy” aesthetic might be appropriate for a music magazine, but not for a medicine bottle’s instructions.
Aesthetics: The way a design looks, which can attract or bore the audience—aesthetic features are tied to usefulness in this way. An environmentally friendly product that is visualized with a cold, industrial aesthetic won’t connect as logically as one that uses earth tones and organic shapes. A design that is tough, or sweet, or mundane, or exciting should be made with an understanding of how the audience will interpret the visual communication.
Distinction: The way(s) 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 a distinction to be made by what a design does (it is functional, structured, useful, and aesthetically pleasing) but also by what a design doesn’t do.