Edit Everything

January 2017

Source: Thinkstock

Clutter is overwhelming, whether it’s in a room that’s bursting with furniture and accessories, in a tome that’s really intended to be a newsletter, or on a page design that contains an excess of text and imagery. (A past graphic designer colleague of mine often railed about his superiors’ expectation of putting 10 pounds of sh*t into a five-pound bag!)

Effective communications is no different. To successfully convey your message, concept or style, you need to edit.

Graphic designers know that competing elements have a negative impact on your ability to focus and process information. If your e-newsletter suffers low open-rates and your latest marketing campaign produces anemic results, you may consider a leaner and more focused approach that avoids complex designs and lengthy copy.

In graphic design, a concept takes center stage when there are fewer elements competing for your audience’s attention. A hodgepodge of elements erodes your viewer’s ability to focus on your message. Rather than beginning your project with a dazzling font or photograph you can’t wait to use, take a giant step back and establish the following:

  • What is the project message and purpose?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • What measurable results will make the project a success?

Next, utilizing your established branding and tone, brainstorm creative design approaches. (I like to create mine digitally, but there are times when a quick sketch on paper works to noodle out a composition.) This step often results in evolved initial designs, but they will always need refining. The best results happen when designers work closely with writers and editors to exchange ideas and elegantly align text and visuals. Creativity is an evolving process and working collaboratively with your team will result in a harmony of elements bringing far better results.

I once worked with an editorial director that preached every word or element on a page should live or die. As a designer, this has been a guiding force toward assessing my work to ensure the project’s objectives have been met, there’s no extraneous content to distract from the message, and there’s also no missed opportunities to be creative in ways that will delight and engage my audience.

At Twirling Tiger Media, in addition to team members collaborating on copy and design, our proven process workflow ensures that the project makes countless rounds of editing and proofreading. This process keeps the work streamlined and on point. It’s advantageous to encourage suggestions from all stakeholders on how to make a deliverable its very best as this practice will serve your clients well and keep them coming back for more. Just so long as everyone understands the value of editing.

—Maureen