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In the past, I’ve talked a lot about the language aspects of storytelling. For instance how to incorporate someone’s personal story with pragmatic copy, and how using a story can enhance someone’s understanding of your non-profit’s work. Aside from these important aspects, another consideration is visual design.
Think about a direct mail piece for a moment. In addition to the copy, there are a number of things that allow the piece to tell an effective story. This includes: layout, changes in type weight, photographs, graphics, colours. Design aspects are important because they are a part of the experience that your audience has with the communications piece. It is the total experience that will affect their comprehension of the story.
In his book, Emotional Design, Donald Norman explores people’s relationship to design. His research looks at the three ways the brain processes an experience and he correlates this with three kinds of design.
Visceral design = our initial reaction to something
Behavioral design = our total experience with using the product
Reflective design = how we feel after initially interacting with the product and then associate broad life experience and meaning with the product.
To be cognizant of these three levels when telling a story is to be actively engaged in creating an experience for the reader. How can we create an experience that conveys a story and communicates a core message?
Tips of improving the story through design
- Create levels of interaction with the story. If someone where to glance over it in 30 seconds, what could they take away? If they were to want more after reading it, what could they do?
- Know your target audience. Anticipate what they will respond to and interact with.
- Pay homage to the medium you choose through the design choices you make. The web is vastly different today than it was 5 years ago. People like interaction. A static landing page may not cut it anymore. Same goes for mail pieces.
- Know the basic purpose of the communications piece and the story. Allow all other considerations to flow from that point.
- Map out the trajectory of the story you are trying to tell and the call to action you want to inspire. This will allow you to holistically understand what it is you want to convey.
Now over to you – do you have any tips for storytelling through design? Leave a comment below and share the knowledge!