The DNA of Design

If you’ve ever wondered what is involved in graphic design or what it is a graphic designer does exactly, here is Corporate Conversions’ Creative Director Christa Blackman sharing what her daily schedule and responsibilities involve:  I’ve often heard people ask…

If you’ve ever wondered what is involved in graphic design or what it is a graphic designer does exactly, here is Corporate Conversions’ Creative Director Christa Blackman sharing what her daily schedule and responsibilities involve: 

I’ve often heard people ask the hypothetical question, “What would you do if you didn’t have to work?” I never really understood that question, as designing has always been an integral part of my life, so much so that I consider it part of my DNA. I see its beginnings in five-year-old me creating booklets and newspaper designs, and I’ve seen it continue throughout my adult life into my chosen career in visual communications.

I’m a designer. It’s just what I do. For the curious, here’s a look at the things I do, use, and think about.

Things I Do

On any given day, you’ll find me engaging in a wide variety of design tasks, some more glamorous than others. I’ll break them down into a few categories:

User Interface/Web Design 

graphic designer Christa Blackman

Let’s start with the fun part. It’s a bit of visual alchemy that begins with the communication goal and continues with reviewing content and identifying interface elements. With these things in mind, I create a visual system including color palette, typography, and imagery. From this foundation, I design screens that meet the content and interface requirements and reflect the brand personality. Typical screen designs might include a website homepage or an e-commerce task flow. Hand in hand with screen design is designing support graphics that family with the overall look and feel of the website. These pieces might be integrated into the overall site structure, or they could be standalone items like infographics or icons. As part of design due diligence, I keep an eye on mobile interpretations of screen designs and make sure things are looking pretty from browser to browser. 

Design Strategy

Heavily related (and equally as important) to interface design is strategy. Before the pen hits the paper or the hand hits the mouse, a design plan of attack should be in place. Some days you’ll find me researching appropriate menus or navigation systems, new interface solutions, or a WordPress theme that would be a good starting point for a website. Other marketing efforts including email campaigns, landing page designs, and even printed communications like brochures fall into my camp. Deciding when to use these and executing them are often on my to-do list.

Branding Potpourri

As a designer, I’m steeped in branding on a daily basis, but my relationship with it depends on client needs. I create brands, help brands evolve, and interpret existing brands for web use. 

Collaboration and Client Interaction

My day is not spent entirely behind the laptop. It is exciting to meet with clients to discuss their hopes and dreams for their company’s digital marketing efforts and also to collaborate with other experts on our team to make those dreams come true. Web design and digital marketing are blended efforts. Disciplines like design, development, and search engine optimization complement each other to produce the best user experience. These, along with high search engine rankings and conversion rates, improve the effectiveness of a website.

Things I Use

I use programs like Sketch and Photoshop to create original screen designs and WordPress page builders when I need to roll up my sleeves and get down to the business of building a site. I know enough CSS to be just a little bit dangerous when it comes to styling sites. My raw materials include things like stock photography, my Mac Book Pro, and a strong cup of coffee. I’ve even been known to pull out a pen and a sketch pad from time to time. These are the tools of the trade that are close to my heart.

Things I Think About

All the design things, of course! On the surface is the obvious: colors, fonts, images…beneath the surface is a form and function approach that links design to human behavior. The design must look good, but must also meet the needs of the user and require no thought on their part. When I think about design, I think about the user – which means I think about you.

Did you know that Corporate Conversions offers a full range of marketing design services? If you’d like to learn more, please contact Tom Damitio at 616-426-9303 or email him at tom@corporateconversions.com.

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Christa Blackman

Christa Blackman is a Creative Director who has designed print and interactive communications for Fortune 500 companies for over twenty years. She studied Graphic Design and English at the undergraduate level, and completed a Master’s degree with a thesis focused on usability. She has a passion for visual storytelling built upon a strong design foundation.