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I'd like to first say that I have attempted to look through Google to find the answer to this though surprisingly, I get more about 'what' it is than 'how' to create a look & feel.

I was a writer up until I began to explore and complete courses in Indesign, Illustrator and Photoshop. I have worked in advertising for five years as a copywriter.

I now offered my visual services to my boss. He said, 'Feel free to create a look & feel for any existing project so we can assess the level of your expertise.'

I have not been exposed to this process. What would I go over? Selection of font for a brand? Colour palette? And what formats should I present the formation of these in? A4 print? Billboard examples?

I'd like to be able to apply myself and the skills that I have. I have executed art direction and design work for clients before but have never done a look & feel.

I would like to be able to approach him with a sense of conviction and show him confidently the elaborate and careful construction of an impressive look & feel.

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Also useful: What is corporate identity? graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/3364/… and from Writers, What needs to go in a style guide? writers.stackexchange.com/questions/2589/… –  Lauren Ipsum Jan 15 '13 at 10:46
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4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Look and feel is a brand thing

Your visual decisions should not only be based on information architecture but an essence, a personality that's unique the brand in question.

Your first steps should have nothing to do with execution. No type, colors, images, graphics. That will come later as a logical extension of the brand.

Start with

  • Demographics
  • Project data
  • Fuzzy impressions
  • Aspirational adjectives
  • Random associations

Pretend the brand you're dealing with is a person ... or maybe some cuddly animal. Maybe it's a middle aged guy. Build a personality around him. Picture him in your mind. Now you can start to imagine what visual cues would tell his story.

Is he sort of prickly or welcoming?
Would he wear purple?
Is he more of a circle or a square?
Cutting edge or classic?
Does he prefer Frutiger or Univers?
Would he hang out in the woods or a sleek interior?

How's that for ambiguous? That's the magic of the creative process! ;)

I've recommended A Technique for Creating Ideas before. It applies here again. That's how you fill your head with the material to accurately describe your character.

How do you present a concept

You need to take your audience into consideration. For starters, look into the concept of "mood boards", if you're not familiar with them. I typically collect all my research and sketches (my mood boards) in Evernote.

For a casual client who likes to keep things sort of one on one, I might just pull out my tablet and flip through my Evernote notebook with them.

For less casual environments, I pull all of that information into a structured, carefully paced PDF that I run through on a big screen or the tablet again, depending on the situation. If it's in person, I usually print it out too so they can flip through the info later. For remote presentations, I share my screen over Google+.

For a very formal client, I compile it all onto black matte board that I flip through as a I present. Some clients like the pass the boards around. I prefer to keep them up front with these types of teams. They're usually the most insecure and like to pick things apart ;)

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You sound like someone who's brilliant at what they do and loves doing it too. Wonderful! –  Warren van Rooyen Jan 15 '13 at 21:04
    
Thank you for the vote of confidence, Warren. I'm in no way brilliant but I am systematic ;) –  plainclothes Jan 15 '13 at 23:07
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What would I go over? Selection of font for a brand? Colour palette?

Yes.

  • Typography
  • color
  • spacing
  • positioning
  • movement
  • Line
  • Shape
  • Mass
  • texture
  • Balance
  • Proximity
  • Consistency
  • Contrast

Once all of that is considered, you then must consider the technical aspects of output. Output aspects can vary.

Essentially, you are asking how to be a designer. Much like being a writer, there is a great deal to understand and learn. Some take to it naturally, others may have to focus on specific areas to improve. And just as many writers attend college to learn the aspects of writing, many designers attend college to learn the aspects of design. It's generally not something one can do well by simply having the desire. It's not rocket science, but it's not like folding paper airplanes either.

And what formats should I present the formation of these in?

That's up to you, really. But if you are reworking a 5x7" ad, then present a 5x7" ad.

"look and feel" is generally more about branding. Branding needs to remain consistent across all pieces. Same typefaces, logo, color palette, etc.

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This is a very broad subject but I'll try to give you some kind of helpful answer.

First off, I'd go with designing the layout of the project (I'm guessing it will be some on screen app, either web or native.) Regardless of color, this is the most important thing. A well thought out layout with easily interpreted elements is absolutely key in this type of thing. The colors could be fantastic but if it has an awful layout all that work will be in vain.

Anyway, find out what kind of services or information your users will be after in this project and make it as easy to find as possible. Generally you want to keep the amount of clicks down to at most 1-2 between each part of the site. Keep things relevant to each other in the same place, and highlight things that are important.

Things like login forms and search boxes should be immediately visible on first look at the site. So should any immediate information.

Next try to think of a general color palette for the project. Something that ties in with what the project is about, for example if it's a "Go Green" or "Environmental awareness" type of thing, pick colors that you'd find outside. Earthy browns, greens, sky blue etc. If it's some kind of corporate initiative then greys, blues and tones of three or four colors would do.

With this palette you need to decide which colors will be used for which kinds of elements. I strongly suggest playing around with services like Adobe Kuler and other palette services to get a good feeling of which colors work together and how a certain color scheme can appeal to a certain service.

When you've decided on element colors, don't be afraid to tweak and change them if they're not working. Don't be afraid to tweak anything at all and especially don't be afraid to tell your client (your boss I assume) that you think and idea they may have is bad. If they want the login box at the bottom of a 1km long page hidden under a smily face that you have to click 4 times, tell them it's a bad idea and why.

After colors and layout comes font. You need a proper font hierarchy, one for headings (two variations, main headings and subheadings) one for menus and one for normal text. Make sure they're readable at their respective sizes and resize well if the user needs to zoom in.

I hope some of this helps, I will of course elaborate on things if you need :)

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Thank you for all the advice so far as I am venturing into web design as well at the moment. This scenario in particular is however for print and outdoor media so your two answers combined are perfect. Please advise if I have interpreted correctly by the way I explain how I intend to go about this: I'll begin with one existing piece of A4 work. I will search for innovative layouts to get a sense and inspiration for creating one of my own. I'll assign a particular font to the header, the subhead and body copy. (I may be wrong there, please advise). –  Warren van Rooyen Jan 15 '13 at 19:22
    
I'll then play with colours to make sure that it aligns with the nature of the brand and that there is harmony. I'll then discuss use of space, proximity (I didn't understand what you meant by 'line') and the other aspects listed. Would it be good to advise on how this layout would vary based on other media? Are there typical questions I should expect that tend to come your way when presenting look & feel? Thank you! –  Warren van Rooyen Jan 15 '13 at 19:24
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Just grab some visual references from the web that you think best show your idea. Execution can save a bad idea. The more you see the more you learn.

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I do not think this is an answer to the question. The question is about choosing a format and how to use that to create something distinct. –  Random O'Reilly Dec 27 '13 at 15:31
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