Three unexpected benefits of learning the core elements of visual design

upward view of white umbrellas

“What is the ideal customer experience for your product or service?”

As a senior consultant at Designit, I work with CEOs, technologists, and managers who consider this question several times a day. They want to ensure that their product or service not only creates real value for their customers but that it wildly exceeds the customer’s expectations and inspires a memorable experience.

When working with clients on branding projects is to facilitate a brand experience workshop. We start with the question, “What is that ideal experience you want to create?” We often forget the critical role a visual brand plays in influencing our perception, mood, and reaction to a product. It has the power to immediately turn us off or convince us that the product it represents must be amazing. When we broaden our visual design capacity across an organization, we vastly improve the quality of our products.

Here are three lessons I’ve learned about the power of team leaders knowing the basics of visual design:

We build self-awareness around our own design preferences and avoid biases.

Oftentimes at the executive level, particularly with smaller companies, we see managers and technical leaders voicing an opinion about visual design. That aesthetic can filter through your entire organization, in some cases leading to design and branding mishaps.

In our workshop, we build in time to deeply consider individual visions of the customer’s ideal visual experience. As we examine the discrepancies and similarities between stakeholders, we encourage reflection to determine: Why do I like this particular visual design? Is it a color balance, a childhood memory, or brand affinity? This reflection enables us to avoid self-referential design. By recognizing why our preferences exist, we’re more equipped to set aside personal biases and ensure our recommendations or opinions are based upon the customer’s needs and preferences.

Our design becomes more democratic.

Visual design can feel incredibly inaccessible at times. We believe that some people simply “have an eye for it,” while the rest of us don’t. In reality, we are all more than capable of talking about design, even if our background is entirely technical. Through a collaborative and non-judgmental process, we enable everyone to feel confident in trusting—and sharing—their inner design voice and bringing that voice back to their organizations.

We foster collaborative and efficient design dialogue. 

Some teams can have a tendency to avoid communication with visual designers and view their work as nice-to-have rather than a need-to-have. This sentiment limits the trust, collaboration, and efficiency we build within our teams. By understanding the basic principles and value of visual design, we have the opportunity to engage in more honest and open conversations with visual designers, enabling communication that’s vital to the success of the end product or service.

So next time you ask yourself what you can do to create the ideal customers experience for your product or service, consider brushing up on your visual design understanding.

In addition to designing interfaces, identities and visual systems for countless companies, Principal Visual Designer Jayson McCauliff is an acclaimed painter, photographer, and street artist, with gallery showings throughout San Francisco. As a senior consultant at Designit, he blends his keen conceptual abilities with pixel-perfect speculation and fine art skills.  

Jayson McCauliff
Jayson McCauliff
Principal Visual Designer, Designit San Francisco

Jayson McCauliff is a Principal Visual Designer at Designit San Francisco. By day, he designs interfaces, identities, and visual systems for companies such as Practice Fusion, Boston Scientific, Amgen, Pwc, and Intel. Outside of work, he spends his time painting, photographing, and adding color to the visual landscape of San Francisco.

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