Design For Your Audience

September 22, 2011

Last weekend I took a whirlwind trip with some friends to Chicago, Champaign and Indianapolis to take in some sporting events. One of the friends is also my printer and the other is in the business of selling office equipment. That led to many conversations about all things graphics. We are also getting a little older and our eyes aren’t quite as sharp as they used to be.

Now let me flash back to when I was seven years old. I had traveled with my parents to Hawaii to celebrate their tenth anniversary. We went to a fancy restaurant one night and the lights were fairly low. I could not read the menu at all and did everything I could to find a little light so I could try to read it.

Back to the three middle aged guys on a sports trip and we were again struggling to read menus. Some had very attractive designs, they just weren’t readable in low light. We also came across a menu that resembled a ransom note because it used way too many fonts. I immediately thought of some tips to pass along to all of you.

The most important is to consider the audience who will be looking at your design. In my example, it is a menu in a low-light restaurant that caters to an older crowd. That means the menu probably needs larger, easy-to-read fonts. Also try to design things with a style in mind that keeps the number of fonts used to a reasonable number. In the case of a menu, the headings should all have the same font. Descriptions of items can be a different font as long as it looks good with the headings. One menu we saw had a different font for every heading. Oh, and don’t underline anything! The ransom note menu had each menu item underlined and it was hideous. Very odd since the restaurant was nice and the food sounded really good.

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Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III is author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences. His first Web site was built in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013.

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