Saturday, 11 May 2013

Discussion Point 1 - Yuni

How has use of visual hierarchy and grid evolved with the emergence of digital technologies over the traditions qualities and potential constraints inherent in letterpress? 

One of the most important bits of the emergence of digital technologies I think, is ubiquity. Today, everyone can design their own magazine. One no longer even needs to print the magazine to publish it. I think this is important because this means variety. For example, the fact that it is easier and easier for someone to create their own font means there are endless choices of fonts to choose from, which really can set the tone to a design.

Digital technologies now also allows us to edit almost anything that we can think of. Everything is more flexible. It allows us to experiment more. We don't need to print everything out to see how our design looks, saving time and cost. We can now write over images and treat the type as part of an image, We can play with opacity of different colours and images and combine them. We no longer have to cram as much information as we can into a single sheet of paper. We can afford to befriend negative space and appreciate its beauty in design. All of these elements really affect the visual hierarchy of a design.

Going back to ubiquity, this also means there are so many options for a consumer. There are thousands of titles of magazines on the same topic. Now more than ever, a designer is required to design something that can really stand out and attract a customer's eyes in seconds. The importance of branding becomes heightened as well. A good branding helps the customer identify a brand within a glance of the ad, or a magazine title within a glance of the cover.

Notice how from the 1950s to the 1980s, GQ kept changing their logo and style of image. Then from the 1990s to 2010s, they began to keep a (somewhat) consistent look. Even when they redesigned their logo (compare 2000 to 2010), they didn't stray far from the previous one.
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Now that publishing has a new medium, online publishing, this also affects the visual hierarchy and grids. Like with iPad magazine apps, a magazine no longer just mean spreads. Since an iPad detects the change in orientation (landscape or portrait) and automatically changes the view, designers have to think about what a spread (landscape design) will look like when it's viewed in portrait mode. Digital versions of a magazine also normally have limited space since the size of an iPad is smaller than a magazine.

Designers are also demanded to tweak the design, or else people are going to think that the app lacks creativity and is too literal. Design elements like font and image sizes need to be adjusted while maintaining the content and look of the original print version, and of course, the magazine brand's image and style.

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Visual hierarchy has come a long way thanks to the emergence of digital technologies. However, I do think that these changes aren't solely caused by technology alone. Especially with design elements, I think a lot of these changes are triggered by human nature's constant need to change too. People get bored easily. I actually find it quite hard to pinpoint exactly how digital technology alone has changed visual hierarchy. With or without technology, trends come and go. Despite all the changes and evolution, visual hierarchy and grid always have the same purpose: to guide the viewer's eyes to the information.

  • Knight, C., and J. Glaser. "The Power of Typography — Creating Exciting and Unusual Visual Hierarchies." Smashing Magazine. Smashing Media, 26 Feb. 2013. Web. 12 May 2013.
  • "THE GQ COVERS PORTFOLIO." GQ. Condé Nast, 20 July 2009. Web. 12 May 2013.
  • Klenert, Josh. "GQ IPad App V2.0." SPD.ORG: Grids. Society of Publication Designers, 19 Apr. 2011. Web. 12 May 2013.

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