Chapter 2: Step Away from the Computer

For Research & Brainstorming

Step Away from the Computer | Chapter 2 White Space is Not Your Enemy

Chapter Outline

  • Research

  • Brainstorming

  • Thumbnail sketches

  • Try this

Keywords | Vocabulary

  • Beta site

  • Bleed

  • Comp/comprehensive

  • Concept

  • Creative brief

  • Design brief

  • Dummy

  • Rough

  • Site map

  • Storyboards

  • Thumbnail sketch

  • Vector

  • Wireframe

Students resist the idea, let alone the practice, of starting design projects with the computer turned off. This chapter emphasizes the research, brainstorming and sketching designers do before they open their design software applications.

Key Student Takeaways

  1. Great design always begins with research to answer standard questions that may become part of a document called a design brief or creative brief:
  • What is the objective?
  • Who is the audience?
  • Does the design need to coordinate with other design work?
  • Who are the competitors and what do their graphic identities communicate?
  • How will the design be delivered/distributed?
  • What is the budget?
  • What is the timing and turnaround time?
  • Who is providing content?
  • Are there any other design or production considerations?
  1. The authors’ brainstorming process involves first doing a fluent-thinking mind-dump, second using split focus to percolate ideas on the back burner and third actively morphing “it” (whatever “it” is) into something else. Repeat as necessary.
  2. Designing with the computer turned off includes using thumbnail sketches to test (and reject) layout possibilities quickly. Designers also sketch dummies for newspapers, magazines and newsletters; storyboards for animation and video; and site maps and wireframes for Web designs.

Quiz Questions

The 5-minute Motivation to Read Quiz

Share three things you learned from the reading. Be specific.

Short Answer Quiz Questions

What kinds of questions does a design brief answer for the designer?

Explain one of the brainstorming techniques you learned from the reading.

What are thumbnail sketches and why are they useful in graphic design?

Multiple Choice Quiz Questions

The research process culminates in a planning document called:

  1. The design brief
  2. The communication audit
  3. The client pitch
  4. The manifest

Which of the following is not a brainstorming technique?

  1. Fluent thinking
  3. Cubing

The best technique for exploring design options is

  1. Deferring to the writer
  2. Holding a focus group
  3. Drawing thumbnail sketches
  4. Creating a phone tree