The Incomplete Dictionary of Design Speak Vol 1

July 13th, 2015

A number of years ago after pitching a new client on a design concept, the marketing person I was with turned to me and said "I like your design-speak". This surprised me because I thought I was speaking plainly. I asked my wife if I ever spoke "design speak" when I'm explaining something to her. I received a resounding "YES" - so I thought it might be interesting to write down a few of the terms that designers rattle off without realizing it sounds like gobble-dee-gook.

Cropmarks - refers to the perpendicular thin black lines on the edge of a printed piece, these lines will indicate where the printer will cut the paper.

Bleed - refers to the image/text/colour that extends past the crop marks. This extending image will be cut off and is neccessary so there is no white paper showing on the edges of the printed piece. The printers blade moves slightly when they are cutting the paper - to cover this movement, we add bleed.

Verbage - total designer slang, this is used to describe an amount of text used in a project. So we don't want a bunch of verbs from you - we want text.

Final Copy - this is text that is supplied by the client to the designer before it gets flowed into the design. It is called final copy because once submitted - it doesn't get altered. I've heard that some designers have experienced "final copy" but it's rare - kind of like seeing Bigfoot.

Tension - can be used when describing a part of the design to a client. We use a design element to create visual interest in a layout in order to draw the viewers eye to that spot.

Asymmetrical Balance - is more interesting to design with than just balance. With asymmetrical balance you attempt to create a sense of visual balance in a layout using 2 or more different elements. For example - a small black box and a large area of thin black lines. You could use 2 black boxes and they would balance, but it can be safe/boring. If you can balance the black box with the thin lines - it will create a more interesting visual that will engage the viewer.

Focal Point - the element in a layout that will make people stop and look at the design. Once they are looking at the focal point you need to direct them to the content.

Emotive Form (content) - are visuals that evoke an strong emotional response. This creates a powerful "black hole" in the design and you need to make sure that once the viewer has been drawn in by the emotive content - the rest of the layout helps to lead the eye from focal point to the message.

That's all for now - let me know if you've heard any "design speak" and I'll try and include it in the next volume!

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