A Request for Proposal, or RFP, is a document that a business, non-profit, or government agency produces to document the requirements for a planned project. They use the RFP to request bids from vendors. They review the submitted vendor proposals and select the best vendor to complete the project.
This week I used an RFP that was created by the Shenandoah Valley Tourism Partnership to produce a Content Strategy Report. SVTP is looking to improve the functionality, content, and look of the existing website to aid visitors, group tour operators, wedding planners, the media, and other groups interested in exploring the Shenandoah Valley.
The conclusion I came to was the SVTP site needs to make design and content changes that can continue to grow and engage users. This growth will help the site meet the business goals by focusing on the Core Strategy Statement and the Messaging Framework. Maintaining updated and refreshed content will keep users coming back.
Business Goal #1: Increase awareness of the Shenandoah Valley as a visitor destination in target markets.
Business Goal #2: Increase visitor spending and produce a substantial economic impact for the Shenandoah Valley.
Business Goal #3: Promote partner destinations.
Core Strategy Statement:
To increase the number of people who visit the Shenandoah Valley area, growing the local business revenue, and showing visitors all that SVPT has to offer.
The core strategy statement will help ensure SVTP is meeting its business goals by increasing the number of people who engage with SVTP’s website. By becoming the expert in all things within Shenandoah Valley, SVTP will be able to engage the user and remain connected with the community. Continued outreach through events is essential to highlight on the home page of the site with strong calls to action while providing seasonal information for the users.
Before starting any design project, you must think about layout, goals, and your audience. As with any marketing material, you need to have a plan in place before getting started. Whether you segment by age, location, or lifestyle, keep your target audience in mind as you design your messaging and imagery. When creating a brochure, you need to map out your idea and plan what belongs on the front, middle, and back of the brochure. When writing the copy, think about how you can draw the reader to each panel while telling a story.
The front page of a brochure needs to be attention-grabbing. It should make them want to find out more. A clear message of what you have to offer and branding throughout for consistency is essential. Limit yourself to one clear message on the front page, and express that message with as few words as possible. Once you have grabbed their attention, the main brochure contents should give them what they want, which is information about your products or services.
Write copy so that it will fit into each panel with a header and brief description – this makes the story easier to follow. Your headers should be clear so that readers can quickly see what you are offering. The headings should deliver meaning without further explanation, and beneath each header, you’ll want to describe the product or service in more detail. Keep these descriptions brief and to-the-point, providing information to the readers to inspire them to take the next step: purchase, go to a website or visit a location.
The back panel should contain contact information, ensuring the reader has what they need to continue with the next action, whether it’s your email address to contact you, directions to your business, or a link to your website. It’s standard practice to put the essential contact information in the middle back panel of a tri-fold brochure.
This week’s assignment was to design a tri-fold brochure for a fictitious travel agency. I choose to focus on a specific area of travel concerning Wedding Destinations. I used photography from my destination wedding and kept with complementary colors of the ocean to provide a feeling of an exotic location. The front cover contains a title, the service provided, and a corresponding image – which displays to the reader the purpose of the brochure. The first panel they would see when opening the tri-fold would be a short description of what the service is and how to get started.
The back panel contains the contact information, the company logo, Captured Moments, which I designed in Illustrator. Once they open the brochure, they will see three panels – service details, save time-leave the planning to us, and travel – all with the theme of “planning” within the title. Images are displayed in each panel and a short description to explain what services the reader will receive. The content flows to bring the reader’s eyes to each panel, provides concise information so they can quickly scan for details. The goal of the brochure is to motivate the reader to start planning their special day now – call, visit, or proceed to the website for more information.
Web design is one of the most critical factors for the success of a website. The design of a site is their primary factor for judging a company’s credibility, which also influences conversions, bounce rate, and more. Websites need to evolve continuously to stay current with users and search engines. To meet the users’ needs, you must have a responsive design so that users can view the site, whether on a desktop or mobile phone.
As smartphone use grows with more than half of the world’s internet traffic coming from devices, the requirement for mobile-friendly sites grows. Responsive design uses adaptable layouts, so a website layout will adjust but remain relatively the same on desktop, mobile, and tablet devices. Your content and your design adapt themselves to a user’s device automatically.
Keeping the user in mind and how they will experience the site will assist with the overall design effort. Here are the best practices to follow, according to Ed Johnson in the essay “Mobile Design Crash Course”:
Grids – Users expect consistency in the site experience. Using grids will help with the UI design. You should align the layout with adequate space between each element.
Column structure – This will help organize the layout across the screen.
Responsive design – It is essential to think about where the content will break on devices. Designing with these breaks in mind will aid you in creating the best user experience.
Design teams will often design using a column grid, creating a prototype to test, and when finalized, passing it onto the development team to replicate the design.
This week I used the fictitious company I had designed the logo and ad for previously to visualize both a website and a mobile layout. I wanted to maintain the nautical theme and colors and provide a clean design with simple navigation for the user. The company’s mission is to provide sustainable materials and natural products for their customers. They manufacture their dog beds and supply locally produced food and treats with a focus on customer interaction.
The top navigation consists of home, shopping, events, and about us, with the logo clearly visible in the top left corner. The welcome copy contains a short description of the company. I positioned it next to the image of the adorable puppy used in the ad. Next, there is a description of the dog beds explaining why you will love them. This section also contains buttons to connect to Facebook, Instagram, and sign up for our monthly newsletter. On the right, there is information on recycling old sails and the customized yacht insignia that each bed contains.
The shopping page would have new items, popular items, and anything on sale. The events page would show store events, adoption events, local community events that help area animals, and sales promotions that are coming that month. The about us page would give a history of who they are and why they do what they do.
For the mobile design, I kept with the same look and feel minimizing the logo image at the top left. The menu is located clearly in the top right corner as a hamburger dropdown. Underneath Welcome, I have also added navigation with a short description to engage the user. The bottom has the social links as well as an opportunity to sign up for the newsletter.
If the user were to scroll down, they would see additional information on the recycling of retired sails as well as more details of the custom beds.
Landa, R. (2019). Graphic design solutions. Boston, MA: Cengage.
This week I worked on creating the prioritization matrix, core page matrix, sitemap, and
wireframes sketches based on the RFP for Shenandoah Valley.
Content design takes into consideration much more than just the content and the layout. Today, content design examines behaviors: the impact of the content and the response of the user. The content becomes a dynamic source continuously changing.
To establish how the content can support the business goals, define a strategy that will help achieve these goals. Meghan Casey outlines essential steps in building a content design strategy below:
Prioritization is how you determine your site’s content and its relative importance to your users and your business. Common artifacts include topic maps and prioritization matrices.
Organization refers to the framework for grouping, labeling, and relating content so that users can easily find what matters to them. Common artifacts used to document organization are sitemaps and taxonomies.
The presentation refers to the ways in which pieces of content, such as a page headline, product overview, body text, or related resource, are assembled to form what a user sees on a page. There are usually several repeatable views (like a landing page, product page, or blog post) and perhaps some unique ones on every website. Common artifacts to document views include content models and wireframes.
The Content model identifies your core pages by matching the business objectives and user tasks.
Some of the best ads are very simple, using visual elements to get across their message.
This week I have taken the fictional logo that I created and developed a half-page ad announcing their opening. Using an image that I had taken on the beach of an adorable puppy looking at someone talking, my headline is, “Did you hear?” The body copy announces that Canine Bay has opened and a few words stating what the store is. The main image of the puppy is on the right; the logo is in the lower-left corner, followed by the tagline and address.
The audience is dog owners in a coastal town looking for beach and boat accessories for their furry friends. The image is adorable and eye-catching. The message is short — lets the reader know they are open.
“A well-thought-out idea sets the framework for you create” (Landon)
Ad design should contain an image, headline, body copy, tagline, and sign-off. The headline should attract the target audience, the body copy delivers small amounts of information, and the tagline is a catchphrase used across campaigns. For this campaign, they are announcing the opening and driving traffic into the store. The sign-off is the logo and additional social media icons.
People quickly scan what they read. They have emails, magazines, social media, and billboards in their face daily. A person doesn’t have time to read everything, so you need to grab their attention. You do this with a compelling headline. David Ogilvy said, “On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” So, make that eighty cents count — pull in your audience.
When creating a print ad, use a limited copy for the reader to quickly scan. Avoid telling the viewers everything about the product or service. Use the ad to drive traffic to other places such as a website or storefront. Focus on one point for the campaign that you believe will best sell the benefits of the product or service to your audience.
A logo is the visual representation of the product or service. It should give meaning to what it represents, utilizing colors and visual design. A logo will tell a story and portray what the service or product is. It should not be a personal preference but instead directed towards the intended audience. Once you’ve completed the market research on what your target demographics are, then you are ready to begin designing your logo.
Despite styles changing, the principles of logo design do not change. Many iconic logos are simply icons without the product’s name, yet we precisely know who they are. Keep in mind as you start brainstorming that your logo will appear in many mediums and platforms. If you include a lot of detail, this could get lost, depending on how it’s displayed. It is best to start your first drafts in black and white before getting into the colors.
This week I have chosen a fictional company that sells accessories for dogs in a coastal town. Many of the clients will be boaters and love the ocean. The store will sell items for dogs that are passengers on boats and frequently visit beaches. Items sold will include dog life vests and waterproof beds made out of retired sails. To get started, I sketched boats and dogs before coming to one idea I wanted to carry through in Illustrator. I started in black and white, outlining the edge of a sailboat. Then I took an image of a dog, created a silhouette of the dog, placed the dog on the bow of the boat. Using the name of the store, I created a curved set of letters, positioned them at the waterline, so they appear to support the vessel. The font I chose was simple and easy to read. I wanted to keep with the theme of simplicity.
Next, I created a color palette to be applied consistently across the logo, store branding, and website. The psychology of color can trigger different emotions in people, which marketers use while designing their campaigns. Cooler colors like blues and greens tend to be a calming and comforting presence. These are colors often found in nature, and for this exercise, the ocean.
Using the color palette, I picked two colors that represent the ocean. I kept the design and color palette simple so that this could be used at any size or on any platform without diminishing the layout. The elements speak to the audience, which is dog-friendly, attracted to the ocean, and most will own or use a boat frequently during the boating season. The store’s design of waterproof dog beds using retired sales I branded with this logo showing a sailboat as well as a dog.
Every part of the logo design has meaning. Some may be subtle like the NBC logo with the peacock head in the middle, and some can have a deeper meaning, such as the Starbucks logo. The Starbucks logo relates to Greek sirens, which are said to have lured sailors to their fate at sea in a moment of weakness. I don’t know about you, but Starbucks is one of my weaknesses, so this rings true for me.
Your logo should incorporate the fundamental psychology of colors, shapes, and fonts. Once you have gone through the necessary steps to bring your logo to life, you will meet the brand goals and have visual excitement for your target audience.
This week I used Photoshop to have a little fun making a movie poster. I used images that I have taken, which include my daughter Lexi, fields of flowers, and butterflies from the exhibit at the Bronx Zoo. I mimicked the bottom of the poster off of a recent movie poster to give it an authentic feel.
I created a perception of depth, enlarging the butterfly in the foreground in comparison to the much smaller image of Lexi. I used a picture of her when she was younger and laughing because she would be in heaven if she were able to hang out with butterflies while we found a way to bring her back to full size. (kidding) The second butterfly is in the background to give the appearance of different sizes among the three dominant objects.
I used an image of grass placed in front of Lexi to emphasize her reduced height. Next, I played with shadows and the shading of the images to make them all appear to be part of the same scene. I used my name as the top headline mimicking other posters with the star actor’s name at the top.
This project was a lot of fun! Coincidently once I completed this, I saw there is a new “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” movie coming out! I hope you enjoyed this fictional movie poster.
Within minutes of a national tragedy, your social media will overflow with stories about what has happened. News outlets are quick to report, but is it always the truth? False statements tend to sound more shocking and therefore catch your attention. These false statements can feed into conspiracy theories that take over the searches when trying to find the truth.
The truth is, we click on what grabs our attention. The stories, whether false or true, are passed around on social media through shares and posts. Now imagine those shares are a video of a leader doing the unthinkable. The amount of traffic to the video will increase because it is surprising. But it’s been doctored from the original. What are you to believe?
The technology that we have available today provides a user the tools to take a few hours of recorded audio and alter it to have the person say something completely different. With a few hundred images of a person, technology allows you to synthesize a video of that person’s face on another body with expressions and movements. Researchers at the University of Washington used artificial intelligence to create Obama moving his mouth when he speaks. Their technique allowed them to put any words into their synthetic Barack Obama’s mouth. Although this technology is impressive, the fact that it is so realistic is terrifying.
According to Hany Farid, “We are rapidly heading toward a dystopian digital future in which self-organizing online communities will be able to create and disseminate their world of pseudo-facts and pseudo-reality.” We are already starting to see this happen within social media with the spread of fake news. For example, a false image of Parkland shooting survivor Emma Gonzalez ripping up the constitution was shared even after proving it was fake. The original photo was of her ripping up a shooting target. This image is still being shared and adds to the fire of conspiracy theories that the students are “paid actors.”
Another example of fake news appeared in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Posts on social media used images of Carlee Soto, sister of the slain teacher Vicki Soto, crying when she first learned of her sister’s passing. The conspiracy theory was that Carlee Soto was a “crisis actor,” whose picture appears in other mass shootings. Although the theory is discredited, the image can still be viewed on social media today.
With the volatile political, environmental, and social climate we live in today, it’s hard to know what is the truth. Both political parties blame the other party for fake news; several conspiracy theories thrive off of spreading the shocking vs. fact. We are left trying to find the truth on our own.
Many news media are failing to check the accuracy and credibility of its sources thoroughly. It’s almost as though we are reading the headlines of the Inquirer at the grocery store check-out when skimming through our social media feeds. With the recent investigations by Congress and the FBI into investigating evidence that Russian spread false reports to change the election, will there be laws created to protect us going forward?
Fake news is a daily word when reading top reports, remember to try to read credible sources; verify and cross-check multiple sources to find your truth.
Color is all around us. I love color, and you can see what colors I am drawn to by looking through my home and the clothes I buy. We all have specific color palettes that appeal to us and impact how we feel. There are a lot of emotional and psychological impacts on us when viewing different colors in nature, our surroundings, and in design. For example, a turquoise color may make you feel calm as this is a color found in nature that brings the feeling of peace.
Milton Glaser is a prominent twentieth century American graphic designer. I was fortunate enough to view his original work at MoMA and was intrigued by his use of color to impact the design. He is famously known for designing the most recognized logo, I ♥ NY. Some of his other notable works include the bullet logo for DC Comics and the Bob Dylan poster. Additionally, he founded Milton Glaser, Inc., which is still producing incredible art.
This week using Glaser as inspiration, I created a silhouette from an image of my son in Photoshop. I took this image into Illustrator, and after making it a vector artwork using the image trace tool, I created colorful shapes to make the hair on the image. My son is full of energy and always laughing. If I were to put a color to his personality, it would be bright and loud with the feeling of constant movement. To deliver the bold brightness I was looking for, I decided to use cool colors. I grouped the objects of the hair and created two additional layers, which I colored differently.
“Color is a power which directly influences the soul.”
― Wassily Kandinsky
The first Illustration is using primary colors RYB of red, yellow, and blue. It also incorporates the three secondary shades of green, orange, and purple. The use of these colors is complementary, meaning they oppose each other on the color wheel like red and green.
For the second Illustration, I used deeper colors of turquoise to show a quieter version of his personality. By choosing a bright hue of turquoise and adjusting the intensity to find similar complementing tones, I was able to stay within the same color family.
And finally, in the third Illustration, I brought back the primary and secondary colors but also incorporated the blues green tones of the second version. I wanted to capture all his moods in the span of an afternoon — with the highs, lows, and taking on the world attitude he has every day.
Lindsay Kolowich says, “Humans are visual creatures.” This statement is evident in the way we react to color in marketing and our surroundings. When I showed the design I had made to my son, he lit up and yelled, “I look like a ROCK STAR!” For me, I saw his personality, and for him, he saw something much larger than I imagined. He saw rainbows and electricity that yelled superstar, where I saw him in colors as my bundle of chaos and love that starts and ends my days.
Now take a look at the colors around you and see what emotions they evoke within you.
Presenting a Content Strategy report to key stakeholders within an organization is important to emphasize how the content is telling the story of the organization and how it is meeting its goals. The report will analyze the current content, how it can be improved, establish key business goals as well as the KPIs to achieve those business goals.
This week I produced a Content Strategy Report for The Motor Neurone Disease Association. The conclusion I came to was that MDNA has a robust website in place that can continue to grow and engage users. This growth will help the organization meet its business goals by focusing on the Core Strategy Statement and the Messaging Framework. If they continue to update and refresh content frequently, they will entice users to return often to review new research and events.
Business Goal #1: Increase funds and generate income through donations to help support those affected by MND and their caregivers. Business Goal #2: Build effective partnerships to help increase awareness and increase donations. Business Goal #3: Proactively share knowledge and information to members to learn what is available to them for support of MND.
Core Strategy Statement:
To increase the number of people who donate and engage with the organization, we will provide research, stats, engaging content to inspire people to volunteer and be involved with those affected by MND.
By becoming an expert in MND through research and funding, MNDA will continue to engage with the community, the patients, and those affected by the disease. It is essential to highlight on the site’s home page outreach programs that promote a strong call to action and provide stats to back the research obtained through MNDA funding.