What is Effective Design?

Today we have a guest post, the wonderful John Lepp from Idea Design. He so graciously agreed to write a guest post about effective design, especially as it relates to direct mail.

What is Effective Design?
by John Lepp

Thanks to Lindsey for asking me to write a guest post on her blog.

I asked for some ideas on a subject matter, one of which was “What is effective design?” A favourite subject of mine. It’s a favourite because if you asked 100 designers what makes design effective you will likely get 100 different answers.

To me the answer is simple.


I design to get results, not look pretty (although sometimes I hope it is pretty too!)

Let’s look at direct mail.

Once I read over the creative brief and read through the letter, I like to have a chat with the writer and make sure I understand what is the core of their messaging. My job is to create an envelope that will get opened.

As you can imagine, even if the letter inside is from God Himself, if the donor doesn’t open the package – what does it matter? (In which case I would typeset simply – ‘Letter from God inside’ - maybe I would BOLD God.)

I have to get people in that package, and it might be pretty or it might be ugly, but it depends on the subject matter and being appropriate to the audience and the charity.

Being appropriate is a large part of what makes design effective. If your donors are old – do not use 9pt type. If your charity raises money for environmental issues – do not design a package with 5 inserts, an 8 page letter and a bunch of freemiums… I know it seems like a no brainer – but trust me – I’ve seen it – and it is obvious me to the designer (or someone) is not thinking.

I honestly believe that any marketing and communications a charity does needs to push people to do something. It must have a clear call to action. That makes it effective.

And if it effective, it will have the results to prove it.


John Lepp said...

Thanks Lindsey for the opportunity.

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