While it is considered passé to use clichés, in the digital word a picture really is worth a thousand words. Often the imagery on your website is the first thing that engages a user and it needs to effectively tell your story.
When we talk about storytelling it isn’t surprising to find that most minds drift to the fairy tales and books we grew up with. These fantastic stories dragged us in, suspended our disbelief, and brought whole worlds to life.
In the digital age, graphic design needs to do the exact same thing. Like a book, graphic design must tell a story – the difference is, this story is your brand. Whether your website is fun, adventurous, or corporate, you have a story to tell. And a good graphic designer will help you bring that tale to your customers.
Here are BSO Digital’s 3 essentials graphic design storytelling!
Creating plot is a type of problem solving – it is the building block on which a story is created, solving the way your characters will travel through their journey. When it comes to website and brand design, your users are your characters. As such, graphic designers have to be adept problem solvers. Like creating the plot for a gripping novel, a graphic designer must find the most efficient and compelling way to present a website.
Graphic design is the face of your website and brand. It is the most direct face your users encounter when engaging with your services or product. To be memorable, that design must convey an intriguing story. Graphic designers must plot this carefully using voice, colour, photography, structure and shape.
Just like writing a novel, graphic design requires careful planning. A designer must map out the beginning, middle and end of a user’s interaction with your website or brand. The beginning is what encourages the user to take the journey into discovering your brand. The middle is engagement with your brand – learning about you, how you can help them, and why they need your service or product. And the end is your call to action, the encouragement to engage your services or buy your product.
By identifying the plot of your brand, a graphic designer can then create a more personalised journey for your users, drawing them into your story and making them more open to engaging with your products or services. This creates a targeted experience that goes beyond just pretty images.
Once the plot has been decided the designer can then develop a clear flow to your website, easy navigation, and calls to action. These subtly guide your users around your site, funnelling them toward the “ending” – the purchase of your service or product.
2: Emotional Connection
Plot alone, however, doesn’t make a story. Good graphic design creates an emotional connection with the user. Emotional connections are the best way to engage a user. They become invested in what you’re telling them.
It is important for a graphic designer to consider users as characters, directly involving them in the design and personalising how the website and brand are presented. A corporate website might give off an air of sleek confidence that, in turn, gives reassurance to the user. A fun, bold website might excite users and make them want to get involved with your brand. The goal of the graphic designer is to get users to care about your website and brand.
Emotional connection is incredibly important. It is what keeps users engaged with your site and brand. Design, in the case of websites, is the language you are using to communicate with users – and design can be one of the most emotional methods of communication.
If you only spend time making things pretty, without considering the plot and emotion attached to the brand and website, then the final design will ultimately say nothing. Everything a graphic designer puts into a composition needs to add to the story.
The trick is understanding how different design elements affect people. Graphic designers are experts in putting users into a mind-set and capturing their attention. Colour, movement, sound and scale are used to recreate the feeling behind the website, whether that be a thrill like a rollercoaster ride, or the confidence of a well-made decision.
Graphic designers tap into the world around them for inspiration, creating a story that reverberates with your website’s audience. They strive to create an engaging story that keeps your users not only on your site, but returning – and even bringing more customers with them!
3: Less is More
Another cliché, but just as important when it comes to graphic design. Less really is more. An engaging story doesn’t need to be complex or elaborate, nor does graphic design.
Design can’t be the ornamental side of web design and development. Rather, it is just as important as functionality and content. Design needs to create value, rather than just being there to impress.
The most important part of graphic design is solving the problem instead of decorating. Typography, artwork, photography and colours must combine to tell the story. It isn’t a matter of just pouring in everything you love – it is ensuring all your elements work together to clearly tell your story, not muddle it. You need to know when to pare back.
There is a fine line between a clean, simple website and a barren, unfriendly one. You don’t want a cluttered website that gives your visitors a headache, but you don’t want a website that seems unfinished. And worst of all, you don’t want to fall foul of the dreaded “Mystery Meat” site navigation.
It is important that your website is simple and easy to follow.
It takes time and effort to distil your brand or website down to one core message. But it is well worth the time and effort to ensure your message is easy to understand.
Just like you shouldn’t pad out a story with unnecessary description, don’t let yourself be drawn into the trap of complex or design that focuses more on “pushing the envelope” than user accessibility. Being concise and clear is the way to go!
Tell Your Story
As we’ve established, graphic design is a modern form of storytelling. And the most important thing is that your story is conveyed to your users. Combining a strong plot, emotional connection and clear vision, a graphic designer can immerse a user just as much as a good novel can. Graphic design becomes the identity of your website and the shortcut to telling users what your website is and what it promises.
Storytelling in graphic design is powerful and can convert users more effectively than optimisation, advertising or crazy interactive elements. So when you start considering a new website, or a design upgrade, consider how a great graphic designer can change – and improve – the whole face of your brand and website.