Before beginning the design process, it is important to define the requirements of the graphic. To define the requirements, consider the following:
· the purpose of the graphic,
· the target audience,
· the medium,
· the view of the graphic,
· the preparation time,
· the budget constraints.
Define the Purpose
Define the purpose of the graphic, because the purpose influences the content and design. For example, the purpose of a graphic may be to:
· provide information (e.g., explain a concept, reinforce text, summarize),
· persuade (e.g., advertising, a proposal to a customer),
· get attention (e.g., marketing, a web page),
· entertain (e.g., provide humor).
Consider the Target Audience
Consider the characteristics of the group you wish to reach with the message of the graphic. The characteristics of the target audience to consider include:
· Knowledge Level
Adapt the message to the knowledge level of the target audience. If the knowledge level of the audience is mixed, then ensure the lowest knowledge level is accommodated. For example, determine whether to use a technical or non-technical approach.
Determine the overall attitude of the target audience. Determine if the graphic should be formal, informal, or humorous in conveying information. For example, a conservative audience would probably respond best to a formal graphic.
· Demographic Composition
Determine if the target audience consists of a particular demographic composition, such as a particular gender or age group. A homogenous group often allows customization of the content of the message. For example, a message with soft images may be more successful with females than males. Consider this characteristic in context with other characteristics, and avoid stereotypes that may work against successful communication of the message. For example, do not use a graphic containing rocking chairs when conveying information to a group of active seniors.
· International Audience
If the graphic is for an international audience, refer to the Internationalization of Documents, particularly the use of graphics, to assist with the appropriate design of the graphic.
Determine the Medium
Determine which medium to use. The medium to use depends on the purpose and use of the graphic. For example, on-line is best for reference, but a slide is best for persuasion during a marketing meeting. Options include:
· projected image (e.g., a slide).
Consider the View
Consider the view of the graphic. For example, will the graphic be viewed from a few inches or several feet? The view will determine requirements such as the size of the image and text. For example, a graphic for a slide must be larger, brief, and more visible for an audience that has a limited and more distant viewing opportunity.
Consider the Preparation Time
Design the graphic so that it can be produced in the time allotted.
Consider the Budget Constraints
Design the graphic so that the costs of materials and time for completion are within budget limitations.