10 Design Terms Everyone Should Know

If you’ve ever sat in a room full of designers, you’ve probably felt a little overwhelmed, and understandably so. It can feel as though we speak an alien, hipster language that’s impenetrable to anybody not in the know. Well, we want to help you to speak our language, and in doing so, understand the awesome value that good design brings to a project. We’ve compiled a list of basic design terms for you to get familiar with, so you’ll be having trendy conversations with your resident designer in no time.

Before designers can actually start designing, there are some important details to plan out. The ideation phase of the process (we call it style) is integral to every design we undertake. It sets a plan so we can focus in on layout, experience, and visual communication. Think of the style phase as the building blocks of a quality design, where each choice is carefully deliberated on to achieve a precise outcome. The following terms are a brief but valuable look at some of the terminology you’re likely to hear during style phase of any design project.

 

1. Font

Design terms - font

A font refers to the weight, width, and style of text used in both digital and print media. This should not be confused with a typeface, which is a set or family of fonts that share the same base text style, making them related. You may have heard of the notorious Comic Sans or Times New Roman — these are both typefaces. Arial is also a typeface, but Arial Black or Narrow are fonts within that family, as they deal with weight, width and style.

Pro tip:

Some common font terms include:

  • Font Style – Normal, Italic, Oblique, etc.
  • Font Weight (the thickness of a character’s strokes) – Thin, Regular, Semi-Bold, Black, etc.
  • Font Size – In digital points or pixels representing the scale of text.

 

2. Serif & Sans Serif

Design terms - serif & sans serif

Fonts can be categorised into two types – serif and sans serif. Let’s start with serifs.

Serifs are typefaces such as Times New Roman, Georgia, or Garamond. So what makes these typefaces serif? Check out the little feet at the end of each character stroke. Serif fonts were typical in old-style, elegant, and mature designs, but have slowly been making a ‘modern’ comeback in recent years.

Sans Serif (Sans meaning without) are typefaces such as Arial, Helvetica or Comic Sans. Sans Serif is the opposite of Serif, meaning it lacks the feet at the end of character strokes. Sans Serif fonts are typical in more modern and simplistic designs — especially when associated with children, or children’s products, as the simple shapes make letters more recognisable and readable.

Pro tip:

Neither Serif or Sans Serif is a ‘better’ option, it all comes down to preference, brand message, and design intent.

 

3. Body Text

Design terms - body text

Body text describes the main paragraph text you digest when you read a news article or a Buzzfeed post. This is body text you’re reading now! It’s essentially anything that’s not a heading, subheading, button, or link. Due to the amount of text in the ‘body’ of an article, it needs to be easily readable and digestible.

Pro tip:

Easily digestible, readable body text is especially important in eLearning, because it’s where most of the information sits.

 

4. Logo

Design terms - logo

A logo is a symbol or text intended to represent an organisation, company, or product. They’re easily recognisable and memorable. You don’t have to look hard to find examples of strong, memorable logos — turn your phone over and you’ll see a brand logo, or go to a vending machine and see how many you can spot.

Pro tip:

Logos can be split into three design types:

  • A Wordmark: Where the brand name is spelled out in only text
  • A Brandmark: Where the brand is depicted graphically with a symbol, icon, or image
  • A Combination mark: Where a Wordmark and a Brandmark are placed together to represent the entirety of the brand.

 

5.Gradient

Design terms - gradient

A gradient refers to a gradual change between two colours. Gradients are predominantly used as either linear or radial. They can be used to add dimension to a graphic but are currently trending in bright neon colours as backgrounds or buttons.

Pro tip:

A popular example of this is the recent rebranding of social media platform Instagram.

 

6. Contrast

Design terms - contrast

Contrast in this context is a type of image adjustment — it’s what makes blacks darker and whites lighter. Contrast is mostly used in image processing and can be utilised to set a certain mood, add character, or draw attention to a particular area of an image.

Pro tip:

Try increasing the contrast of an image and notice as the visuals become more exaggerated and defined in light and colour.

 

7. Saturation

Design terms - saturation

Saturation refers to the vibrancy and intensity of colours in a graphic. An image with zero saturation is entirely greyscale, and an image with high saturation is bright, vibrant, and may feature a whole range of colours. Saturation can also be utilised for mood-setting, drawing attention to an area of the image, or as a stylistic choice to evoke a certain aesthetic, tone, or emotion.

Pro tip:

Greyscale images typically appear more refined and classical. On the other hand, brightly coloured images can seem more fun and youthful.

 

8. Monochrome

Design terms - monochrome

Monochrome, meaning one (mono) colour (chrome), is the term used for a limited colour scheme. It commonly refers to a greyscale image, which is completely devoid of colour and uses varying shades of grey. However, it can also refer to an image which may only feature a singular colour in various shades. Monochrome colour schemes work well because the shades rarely clash with each other, as they’re all from the same root palette.

Pro tip:

Monochrome palettes can also be limiting because there is usually little to no contrast to engage the eye or capture the attention of the user.

 

9. Mood Board

Design terms - mood board

A mood board, also known as a style board, is a collage of images intended to depict the potential look and feel of a product, brand, or project. Mood boards may also feature text and specific phrases which adhere to your branding or intended aesthetic. Mood boards are an effective tool for designers to lock-in an aesthetic before they begin a full-spread design. As a client, you may be asked to approve a mood board to lock-in the style of your product or brand.

Pro tip:

Ever heard of Pinterest? It’s a really popular platform for mood boarding.

 

10. Style Guide

Design terms - style guide

A style guide, also known as a brand manual or brand guidelines, is a document used to maintain consistency within a company, organisation, or product. It sets rules or guidelines for the design of logos, colours, fonts, imagery, tone, personality, and communication.

Pro tip:

Effective style guides also hold instructions about what not to do.

 

Paige Talbot Paige Talbot

Paige Talbot

Graphic Designer

World-first online program to replace learner driver test

Queensland’s next generation of young drivers will be the first in the world to undergo an online learner driver education program before they get behind a wheel.

The PrepL eLearning program will take learners through a 4-6 hour online interactive course that includes simulated driving scenarios and powerful real-life interviews with those affected by fatal car crashes.

PrepL is being developed in collaboration with the Department of Transport and Main Roads by Croomo, a pioneering Brisbane technology company.

Croomo Chief Growth Officer Daniel Bermingham said a team of up to 20 designers, artists, developers and strategists had been working on PrepL for almost two years.

“The Queensland Government is putting itself at the forefront of road safety in Australia and the world,” Mr Bermingham said.

“Last year, 250 people died on Queensland roads alone, so I believe that PrepL has the potential to save many lives in the future.

“Students don’t just learn the road rules with PrepL, they learn why it’s important to have the right attitude, and, in a virtual environment, they experience the consequences of poor driving.”

 

Mr Bermingham believes the eLearning program is a proud world-first capable of ensuring our next generation of drivers are better prepared for the road than any before.

“Young people are very comfortable with technology and we believe they will enjoy the PrepL experience, while gaining valuable knowledge,” he said.

“In some scenarios, they really will be in the driver’s seat and have to react appropriately to potential dangers.

“They will also see and hear the true-life stories of people affected by fatal accidents including paramedics, firefighters and the loved ones left behind.”

Renowned Queensland researchers also appear in video clips to explain in clinical detail why our brains can’t cope with texting and driving, how alcohol impairs judgement and how seatbelts save lives.

Learner drivers will cover the Fatal 5; signs and road rules; sharing the road and driver values.  They will unlock each section as they progress by correctly answering questions on each topic.

Unlike the current 30-question multiple choice paper test, PrepL students will have to answer more than 380 separate questions, challenges and activities.

PrepL is now undergoing advanced testing and this month 300 Queensland teenagers will take part in the first large-scale pilot program.

Mr Bermingham said Croomo had used its experience of developing interactive safety training programs for Australia’s biggest resources companies to develop PrepL.

Melanie Fuller Melanie Fuller

Melanie Fuller

Marketing Manager

3 Keys to Unlocking Innovative Thinking in your Industry

Lack of creative confidence can be debilitating when working within an innovative industry. It can result in being afraid to put ideas on the table during meetings or giving up on a creative pursuit entirely because you don’t believe in your own creative abilities. The good news is we all have the potential to be creative people, and unlocking amazing ideas is just a matter of confidence and practice.

Build your creative confidence

Fear is one of the main inhibitors of creativity. Building confidence takes time and patience and it starts by easing up on how critical you are of your own ideas. We are usually our own biggest critics and it can sometimes stop us from sharing our ideas with others. Brainstorming sessions and workshops are about getting all ideas down, so don’t worry – no one is judging your suggestions.

Failure is part of the process

Remember that no one comes up with perfect ideas that are fully formed. At first, these things take time and are built upon. Failure is important to grow and practice makes perfect. If an idea doesn’t work out initially, look at the reasons why and develop from those mistakes. Walking away from a project with the mentality that it ‘just wasn’t for me’ won’t help you succeed the next time around.

Collaboration is key

Working with others is a great way to spark your own creativity. Ideas can be bounced around during meetings or workshops and this can yield some interesting and innovative results. Build trust with the people you’re working with and ensure the environment is positive. This will allow everyone to share their ideas without fear of judgment and scrutiny.

Building creative confidence and getting your ideas out there will help you and your team to develop innovative and diverse concepts. Whenever you have doubts about your creative ability, remember that everyone has the potential to be innovative when given the chance.

Sam Motteram Sam Motteram

Sam Motteram

Motion Graphics Artist

4 Guiding Principles for Giving Clear, Actionable Feedback

At Croomo, we work closely with our clients in order to develop effective training solutions, and we actively encourage them to be a part of that journey with us. As a creative agency, a critical part of that journey is asking for and receiving client feedback as we reach each project milestone.

Client feedback is an incredibly useful tool for indicating when things are going in the right direction, or for redirecting focus if and where needed. It helps to set clear expectations around how the final product will look and feel, and to communicate the many various creative and technical considerations that must be addressed throughout the planning, design, and production phases.

To get from concept to completion, there are often a number of intermediate deliverables we send to our clients in order to provide them with an opportunity to review our progress and provide valuable insight and feedback. When collaborating with our clients in this way, there are efficient methods of providing feedback which can greatly assist us — both in terms of defining a clear direction as well as keeping the project on schedule. These include:

Prompt feedback

A quick response to feedback requests helps to avoid delays and ensures projects remain on schedule. If this process drags out, it can hinder progress and affect production timelines.

Ideally feedback is provided within one or two business days. This helps to keep up the project momentum, and allows us to progress to the next stage or deliverable and meet the project deadline. If this timeframe for reviewing the work and generating feedback is unrealistic for the project stakeholders, clearly communicating this will enable us to plan ahead and adjust our production schedule accordingly.

A dedicated decision maker

If multiple parties are providing feedback, having a key stakeholder act as the decision maker helps to filter and consolidate any conflicting or unclear thoughts or comments. This ensures that all the feedback we receive has been reviewed internally and are approved.

Actionable comments

Productivity can often be stalled by vague questions, ambiguous statements, unclear instruction, or multiple varying opinions. This type of feedback can be difficult to interpret, answer, clarify, or action. Ideally the feedback should be clear, direct, and specific, providing not only an evaluation of the work but also suggestions for improvement.

Examples of unclear feedback are statements such as ‘I don’t like this shade of blue’ and questions such as ‘Is this paragraph really necessary here?’

Actionable feedback, on the other hand, is prescriptive and provides actionable information such as ‘Please adjust this shade of blue to match our branding style guide’ and ‘Please remove this paragraph as it is no longer relevant to this procedure.’

A single feedback channel

With projects involving multiple stakeholders, collecting and actioning feedback is challenging to manage when coming in multiple forms. For example, if one person responds via email, another person ‘marks-up’ a print version and scans it to PDF, and another responds by phone, there is no single location where all feedback is consolidated and visible to all parties.

To avoid this scenario, we usually provide stakeholders with a direct link to a shared online proof (whether it be a document, storyboard, imagery, video, or animation) and ask that all stakeholders leave their feedback here. This way, there is a single point of truth we can refer to and we can address all comments methodically, and action them systematically. This also allows stakeholders to view each other’s feedback, which reduces the likelihood of duplicate comments or conflicting change requests.

Client feedback is an integral part of our process for creating inspiring learning experiences. It is essential at every stage of planning, design, and development in order to arrive at a successful and effective training solution for learners and organisations. If that feedback is clear, concise, and actionable, it streamlines the entire process and allows us to produce the best possible training solution for your organisation.

Grant Van Zutphen Grant Van Zutphen

Grant Van Zutphen

Motion Graphic Artist

One Picture = 1000 Words

Every artist needs a muse — that one source of inspiration. My inspiration is problems. There’s something motivating about being faced with a really tough problem and having to think my way out of it. This applies to my work in the learning industry. Using my eye for illustration, I can bring information to life and make a learning experience truly memorable.

In eLearning, certain kinds of problems are best solved by using graphics. On most projects, the first thing I see is a storyboard delivered by the Learning Experience Designer. When I get a storyboard, I’m not just thinking about how to make it look pretty — I’m actually approaching the content with a problem-solving mentality. Where is this learning failing to communicate clearly? Which problems can I solve with illustration?

Not just any illustration will suffice, an irrelevant graphic will only distract the learner. Graphics should assist the learner and contribute to effective eLearning. As Maurice Sendak, who illustrated Where the Wild Things Are, said ‘Illustrations have as much to say as the text. The trick is to say the same thing but in a different way.’
I apply the same problem-solving mentality when I create a diagram. A well-crafted, clear diagram can convey the steps within a process in a straightforward way. This can transform a process that previously seemed complicated to a learner and provides that coveted ‘aha moment’ that we’re always striving for. Convoluted diagrams confuse learners and bury your message under layers of text and visual noise. Simplify your diagrams by removing all unnecessary detail — you need to question every element. Why did you use that colour? Why did you use that shape? Why is that text bold? If you can’t justify why it’s there, get rid of it.

What I enjoy most about my job is coming up with creative visual solutions for client problems. Illustration takes up a big chunk of my work at Croomo and I approach it from a design perspective. I use illustration as a functional, problem-solving tool that clarifies the eLearning and contributes to a better user experience.

Katie Grech Katie Grech

Katie Grech

Artist

Building Innovation – Croomo + Clui set up shop at the Precinct, Fortitude Valley

Last month marked a milestone for us here at Croomo and Clui. After nearly eight years, we packed up our offices at 14 Argyle St. and moved into our new digs — the urban precinct based in the historic TC Beirne (TCB) and Burlington Buildings in Fortitude Valley.

 

To walk around and see its exposed brick walls and rafters is to feel a tangible connection to Brisbane’s pioneering history. If they could tell a story, it would be one of entrepreneurship, innovation, and disruption. In the coming weeks, months, and years, we’ll make this place a home and get to making some history of our own — but in the meantime, this space has plenty to share.

T. C. Beirnes department store in Fortitude Valley, 1919. John Oxley Library, State Library
Photo credit: T C Beirne department store in Fortitude Valley, 1919. John Oxley Library, State Library

The TC Beirne Department Store was designed by Robin Dods and built in 1902. Thomas Charles Beirne was a man with a great vision — a vision of a towering memorial of concrete and steel, teeming with people. It would sell people a ‘pleasanter way of living’ at an affordable price. His motto was “Give them better value and they’ll come back again and again.” He was spot-on. Thomas’s determination to put his unique stamp on the retail industry saw his department store thrive and, along with McWhirters, helped establish Fortitude Valley as the largest shopping precinct outside of a CBD in Australia. The desire to innovate built this structure and, 115 years later, saved it.

Photo credit: T C Beirne building, Fortitude Valley, 1947. Brisbane Images, Brisbane City Council

Jump forward to 2015, and these buildings have seen over a century of facelifts and remodeling — some necessary, some unfortunate (what happened in the 90’s, stays in the 90’s). The Queensland Government announces an initiative to empower Brisbane start-ups and entrepreneurs to grow and thrive, by converting the historic TC Beirne and Burlington Buildings into an energetic, collaborative urban precinct.

The precinct will bring start-ups, mentors, incubators, and investors together to create a melting pot of entrepreneurial activity.

 

Along with this, an exciting urban precinct is announced to open on the ground floor, which will merge the best in food, beverage, and retail that Brisbane has to offer. To put it simply, it’s a big deal for Fortitude Valley, which, in recent years, has become a hive of start-up activity (with Uber, River City Labs, Tappr, and Orange Digital setting up shop). It’s no surprise that the Queensland Government is propping Fortitude Valley up as Brisbane’s answer to Silicon Valley, and just as it was with the retail boom, it will once again be synonymous with industry, opportunity, and promise.

So, here we are. It’s August 2017, and we’re settling into our new office. We’ve started making this space our own, and I can’t help but feel as though this place is a perfect fit. Like Thomas Charles Beirne, we’re hungry to put our stamp on an industry. We have a strong vision, and a well of determination. Our offices were built on the promise of innovation and vision over a century ago and, in 2017, innovation has come home.

Kevin Brew Kevin Brew

Kevin Brew

Learning Experience & Sound Designer

Developing prototypes during our Know.How Workshops

In this final video in the Know.How Workshop series, Francois discusses the broad process we follow to develop a paper prototype to test and gain valuable feedback from our users.

If you’re interested in finding out more about our Know.How Workshops, please email us at hello@croomo.com.

Watch the video above to see how we create prototypes in our Know.How Workshops with Francois Kirsten

Defining Learner Personas during the Know.How Workshop

Join Francois as he explains how defining Learner Personas during the Know.How Workshop keeps the team focused on the real people who will be using a solution.

This video covers:

  • The Learner Ecosystem
  • Story Shares
  • Empathy mapping

If you’re interested in finding out more about our Know.How Workshops and Learner Personas, please email us at hello@croomo.com.

Watch the video above to see how we define Learner Personas in our Know.How Workshops with Francois Kirsten

Lord Mayor’s Multicultural Awards for Business

Croomo Founding Director, Schalk Pienaar, has been named as the Multicultural Business Person of the Year at the 2017 Lord Mayor’s Multicultural Awards for Business!

The Lord Mayor’s Multicultural Awards for Business celebrate the contribution multicultural businesses make to the Brisbane economy and community through their creativity, innovation and resilience.

As a fundraising event, it attracts a strong following from Brisbane’s multicultural community and business sector. Hundreds of people attend the event each year to raise funds for the Lord Mayor’s Multicultural Business Development Program, while enjoying the many networking opportunities.

This year the Lord Mayor’s Multicultural Business Scholarship Program and Mentoring Scheme will have supported almost 300 recipients since the program began in 2008.

Award winners were recognised at the 2017 Lord Mayor’s Multicultural Business Dinner on Saturday 27 May at City Hall.

Pictured above: Schalk Pienaar, Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, Daniel Bermingham.

Melanie Fuller Melanie Fuller

Melanie Fuller

Marketing Manager

Our thoughts from the 2017 LX Conference

Recently, Croomo attended the world’s first online Learning Experience Conference.

The LX Conference is the first online conference dedicated to learning experience design. Learning experience design (LX Design) is the emerging practice of using user experience, service design or human-centred design methods in education and training.

As businesses continue to embrace automation and big data, they birth new software, new processes and new expectations of their employees.

What does learning design mean in the age of mentoring, gamification and personalisation? Is an online course always the answer? It can be a real challenge to ensure you design an experience that suits your learners while at the same time not falling into the trap of just ‘“doing what we’ve always done.”’ To cope with this, we are seeing a new hybrid practice emerge, learning experience design (LX Design).

Here, a few of our Croo share a collection of their insights from the conference and how you can benefit from it.

Byron Tik: Lead Learning Experience Designer

In Learning Design and Development there are many unique disciplines. The latest is that of learning experience design. Some may consider this another name for Instructional Design, or a fanciful term that blurs the lines between Learning Design disciplines. This seems fair given that most developers and designers have overlapping skill sets and often perform many roles out of necessity.

It is the focus, toolbox and processes that justify the differences. There is strength in knowing what the appropriate processes are at which point in the design process. An effective designer is one that recognises which discipline to leverage and applies the most effective processes to do so.

 

Learning Experience Design first and foremost is about connecting to the learner, through narrative, usability, flow and relevance. It is also about having an empathetic understanding of people and the ability to design and deliver a coherent experience. In my opinion, a Learning Experience Design is to learning what a Game Designer is to games. The goal is to understand the bigger picture, all disciplines, the vision and the audience in order to create a coherent experience of the solution for growth.

Hafizah Suleman: Learning Experience Designer

Make shared understanding a process rather than an outcome. — Joyce Seitzinger (Founder and Lead LX Designer at Academic Tribe).

Joyce outlined the importance in ensuring that our goal as designers, is to understand people and their purpose as much as we understand content and procedures.

The Learning Experience Designer role is to select the appropriate solution that will best support people, and to highlight to the organisation non-training improvements. This is not done by sitting in an office and writing learning objectives. Rather, by engaging and listening to the people and managers who do the job.

This is not done by sitting in an office and writing learning objectives, but by engaging and listing to the people and managers who do the job.

 

Toby Hewitt: Learning Strategist

I am going to stop writing the word ‘users’ or ‘user needs’. I design for PEOPLE to help them achieve their PURPOSE. #lxconf

Our field is seeking to define itself as creative problem solvers. While there is value in being able to design and develop functional eLearning components, the skills of cognitive empathy, critical thinking, analysis and logic are important to the learning designer of the now.

Forget learner demographics, look to find your audience’s different motivations for why they do/don’t do the thing. #lxconf

Learning experience design is about unpacking the human data that is influencing businesses. It is a discipline filled with processes to collect human data such as motivation, purpose, emotion and thinking. It leverages these to create more effective solutions.

 

As learning designers, we operate under tight business deadlines. We are rarely given enough time to do deep dives into understanding our audiences. Yet, by striving to shift our client’s thinking, to ensure we uncover people’s reasonings and purpose, we can design eLearning that is meaningful, memorable and motivational.

One way that Learning and Development teams can benefit from LX principles is to embrace collaborative design workshops.

 

These involve star performers, subject matter experts, and managers as equal stakeholders in a participatory session where Learning Designers facilitate unpacking the organisational challenge you are trying to correct. These sessions often produce holistic strategies that encompass a range of approaches. Additionally, they define engaging experiences that the organisation can create that will facilitate wider learning. This is an effective way to implement powerful human-centric design principles in the fast-paced commercial world.

At Croomo, we are passionate about continuing to help people benefit from the discipline of Learning Experience Design. We embrace this continual industry development. We are all committed to offering our clients the very best in Learning Design by helping to define it and develop tools to action it. We want to help people use human-centric design to unpack their organisational challenges, and to listen to their people, so that organisations can design better enterprise learning.

References

Dr. J. Knott, 2017, http://www.lxdesign.co/2016/05/the-hows-and-whats-of-an-accomplished-lx-designer/

Toby Hewitt Toby Hewitt

Toby Hewitt

Learning Strategist