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The Importance of Communication in Social Design

I never thought that one day, I would care so much about Oil and Gas in Lebanon. But lo and behold, after partnering with the Lebanese Oil and Gas Initiative (LOGI) as their creative team, things started changing.

LOGI held a political art competition and opened up the door for all creatives to submit artworks that communicate how they interpret or view the oil & gas situation in Lebanon. The winners were announced at the symposium that was held towards the end of January where an exhibition of the shortlisted artworks took place. Alongside the exhibition was a panel discussion that I had the honor to be part of. In my talk, I went over the importance of design as a communication tool and how it can expand into different media.

In the panel, I discuss how when we are approaching a topic as important as oil and gas in a country like Lebanon, design is as crucial as ever.

Stripped from forming, shaping and styling, design remains a process of critical thinking and creative problem-solving.

Content typography playful colors

The way we approach designing content: the colors, fonts, placements and visuals all serve one purpose: delivering the message in the best way possible.

 

1. The Medium

Delivering the message in the best way

Case in point: We developed a series of Infographics for LOGI. The challenge at hand was to explain complex information about oil and gas to your average person, like me, who doesn’t know the first thing about gas pockets and seismic surveys (seismic, who?). Infographics were the perfect medium because they are very visual by nature and very easy to consume.

And the reason visuals work so well is because we have historically been visual creatures. When we learned how to sharpen a rock, aside from using it to start killing each other, we used it to carve drawings on walls. When we discovered the magic of creating color from plant pigments, we started drawing and coloring our messages. Centuries later, our visualization skills keep evolving, what was once limited as either static (print) or video (digital) is now fused. So infographics don’t need to be static anymore, as they can be interactive with the user and where they click. This interactive infographic, for example, is part of the LOGI basics series.

 

Fireworks because of the possibility of having oil and gas

Infographics are the perfect medium because they are very visual by nature and very easy to consume

 

Map of Middle East Infographic

The reason visuals work so well is because we have historically been visual creatures

2. The Experience

User-based experiences make or break the design

Another important facet of design is the experience. Let’s take website design as an example: Developers and Designers want to make sure that the user experience is pleasant. While this is getting easier with the advancement of technology, the flipside is that users are getting less and less patient because they are getting used to a perfect experience (as they should). So when we built the LOGI website, we had this in mind: how does it look on mobile devices, on iPads, on computers; how do we make the experience pleasant in such a way that he forgets that he’s reading about oil and gas and actually enjoy the topic. Any good designer will tell you that this, also referred to as responsive design, is the bedrock for any successful website.

Responsive design is not only reserved for websites. All things design should be responsive to context, medium, and space.

So what’s missing when you’ve communicated your message properly, in the best experience possible for your user? Nothing… if you’re designing for a robot. While we are not yet at that stage of advancement, I’ll assume that the end user is a human. And humans? Well, we’re as emotional as the toddler-next-door having a tantrum because they didn’t get their favorite candy.

3. The Emotions

The secret ingredient of successful design

Tapping into the insights of the emotions of people is what will really hit the jackpot of successful design. This might look like sentences with emotional triggers. It might look like micro-visuals or copy that are relatable and delightful. If you come and tell me: Oil and gas are very important and we need to lobby to make sure the industry is not corrupted, I might listen. I might also check my Instagram while you go on explaining the figures.

Now imagine the same scenario, but you tell me instead: Hey, you know how electricity shuts down 6 hours a day and basically ruins your life? What if I told you there’s a way you can avoid that?

Odds are, I’m listening. And you didn’t even bring up oil and gas yet. You tugged on an emotion, on something I relate to and am probably really bothered by. Introducing a fact after that about oil and gas and how it makes that happen becomes very welcome. Check out the animation below to see an example of how this pans out in motion graphics. You can get more in depth about steps for successful animations here.

 

 

This is design in action; this is what we do at 247studios. While colors, typography, and shapes play a crucial role, design is about conveying the message.

It’s about the ability to reach and connect with people, and it is only when that is achieved that we can truly leverage design in social change.

 

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