Project 1 — Identifying Communication Design

Communication design, an upcoming and widely popular field today, is a mixed discipline. It is an art, a science and an approach all in one. Not only does it involve a thorough understanding of aesthetics, graphics, psychology and the target audience, but also revolves around a detailed, iterative process that takes an idea or concept from the conception stage to the final outcome. However, at the end of the day, how can we judge whether the design has been effective or not? To get a better understanding, I have discussed two examples of communication design, one effective and one ineffective, below.

Effective Communication Design

An example of effective communication design that I came across on my floor in my residence hall is a poster advertising the Volunteer Fair. My first impression of the poster is that it is clean and catchy. A closer look shows that there are many elements of design that contribute to it’s effectiveness.

First and foremost, the concept behind the poster has been clearly displayed in an easy to understand, organized format. The necessary information — name of the event, who’s organizing it, time, and location — are all easily accessible and identifiable. This is extremely important since it caters perfectly to the target audience of mainly students who walk by the poster on their way to class and do not have time to stop and read it. Additionally, the design strikes a good balance between positive and negative space while cleverly disguising the negative space using the color orange so that it all blends seamlessly together. Furthermore, the contrast between the colors and the variation in scale both work together to emphasize the crucial aspects of the poster. On that note, I am personally a big fan of it’s minimalistic, simple aesthetic. All in all, because of the unifying effect of the design elements within the poster, it is able to convey it’s message effectively.

Volunteer Fair poster by PACE, found in 4th floor of Morewood Gardens

Ineffective Communication Design

An ineffective example of communication design that I stumbled upon happened to be another poster, this time advertising Late Night(s). At first glance, you can immediately tell the poster has a lot going on. In a way, that does catch the eye of the audience, but it is also very overwhelming. In my opinion, seeing so much content on the poster could act as a disincentive to continue reading. On top of that, the content is displayed using a varying color palette and size scale. These two factors make it slightly confusing for the reader and give an “all over the place” impression. Taking a closer look, you will notice that some of the phrases are to be read horizontally, while others are meant to be read vertically. This inconsistency further fuels the scattered, confusing impression given by this poster.

To me, the most important fallback of this poster is that the venue and day of the event are listed at the bottom and are barely visible to the reader. They are arguably the most important aspects of the poster and need to be emphasized more. Additionally, the time of the event is not stated. Here, the poster is making a critical error by assuming that all students know when Late Night begins. However, first-year undergraduate and graduate students who are new to the Carnegie Mellon community could be unaware, thereby making this poster neither very informative nor very effective. Overall, there is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to effective communication with regards to this poster.

Late Night poster, found in 4th floor of Morewood Gardens