Student Represents Phoenix, AZ, in Annual Photography Contest

written by Georgia Schumacher 27 February 2015

Lisa Hanard, a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Design student at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division, was selected to represent her city of Phoenix, AZ, in the photography division of the 6th Annual RAWards, moving on to the national stage of the competition! More than 15,000 artists across the country participate in the indie arts award competition each year.

The RAWards has a total of 9 categories, including visual artist, fashion designer, musician, filmmaker, hairstylist, makeup artist, photographer, performer, and accessories of the year.

The final winner in each category will be announced on Monday, March 2, 2015. Congratulations and good luck Lisa!

Check out some of Lisa’s amazing photographs:

Lisa Hanard with her photos

Lisa Hanard photo

Lisa Hanard photo

Lisa Hanard photo

Lisa Hanard photo

See http://ge.artinstitutes.edu/programoffering/198 for program duration, tuition, fees and other costs, median debt, federal salary data, alumni success, and other important info.

3 Design Elements to Focus on in Testing

written by Georgia Schumacher 13 November 2014

Do your web design choices compel users to take further action or cause them to swiftly click away? Once you have great written content, your design must be carefully crafted. Sometimes, A/B testing will reveal the most effective design, while other times, asking directly for feedback offers a wealth of information. Here are just a few graphic design and web elements that should be tested.

1. CTA Position

The call-to-action, or CTA, tells the user what you want him to do next. Maybe you want him to sign up for a webinar, or perhaps the CTA will help a user navigate to a video. The CTA is usually a clickable button that should be placed near the top of the page. Users may scroll down to the bottom of the screen, but only if your content and design compel them to read that far. In many cases, placing the CTA at the top of the screen where the user can't miss it is the best choice. Remember that web users read in an F-shaped pattern. Testing CTA position lets you see where it is most likely to be clicked.

CTA buttons2. CTA Color

The color of your CTA button is another important element of any interactive design. Some colors will jump out from the page better than others, and, when your background is white, many options exist. The color of the CTA should stand out on your design -- but not like a sore thumb. Finding the right CTA color can be a fine line; it should typically be consistent with the overall design scheme, but the CTA may be ignored if it blends in with the background or neighboring design elements. The only way to know what CTA colors work best is testing!

3. Photo Selection

A powerful image may keep people on a web page or email screen and increase user engagement. Using images of real customers, versus stock photography, generally adds more value to the design. However, product photos may also be more appropriate in certain situations. The placement and size of the photo will also affect its impact. Users may ignore an image placed off to the side without a clear relationship to the text. Knowing which image will connect best with the end user may be a bit of a guessing game. Testing enables designers to determine which photos elicit the best response from users.

Testing Methods

TestingOne popular means of testing your web or interactive design is A/B testing. When utilizing this method, you will create two versions of your email, landing page, website, or other design to implement simultaneously. In most cases, each version is exactly the same, minus one difference--that could be copy, CTA color, CTA position, or any other element you are testing. Sometimes, you may need to test two entirely different designs, but when you begin changing multiple pieces on your design it becomes hard to know to which design elements you can attribute success. Whichever version produces the most interactions can be used moving forward--and you can always continue testing other elements over time. Remember, testing your web design stands to greatly increase the success of your efforts. Don't be afraid to learn by trial and error!

Learn more about web design best practices in our Web Design & Interactive Media Programs.

The Ideal Client: How and Why to Create Personas

written by Georgia Schumacher 9 October 2014

If you want to launch a career in a creative field such as web design, fashion design, or video game development, you should understand the vital role of personas. Personas, which should be used throughout the creative and development process, are in-depth profiles of potential clients. Those make-believe individuals will represent precisely the kinds of customers that you're trying to reach.

By creating personas, you help yourself and your colleagues to analyze andunderstand your customers, audience, or users. Once you’ve built personas, all of your decisions should rely on these imaginary people and what would—or would not—resonate with them or move them to action. Ask yourself about their wants, their needs, and their goals. Think about their prior knowledge and background and how that will influence the way they interact with what you create.

Be aware, however, that you should only rely on three or four personas for one project or campaign; have more than that and it starts to get confusing. Therefore, those personas you select must accurately represent your largest groups of potential customers. Of course, you won't be able to capture every potential user in those personas; the key is to cover as many as you can.

How to create a persona

To create effective personas, you'll first have to do some investigating. That is, you must learn about the backgrounds and needs of the people who are most likely to seek your services. This kind of inquiry is called market research.

Step 1: Market research

There are several ways in which to conduct market research. For starters, you can interview past and current customers over the phone or in person, and you can direct them to online surveys. To ensure that enough people complete such interrogations, you could offer them discounts in exchange for participating. You may also be able to conduct research about those who purchase products from your closest competitors. You could even contact trade associations, major industry publications, and even friends who are in the same business as you; ask them to send you some of the customer data that they've collected over time. Even if you don’t have customers yet, you can create personas based on information you find about your target customers or the people most likely to purchase your product or service.

Step 2: Find patterns

Once your market research is complete, it's time to turn those statistics into personas. To get started, identify recurring patterns in the customer information that you've gathered in order to settle on three or four archetypes. For example, if teachers and women between the ages of 50 and 60 are among the people who appear the most often, one of your personas could describe a female, 55-year-old high school teacher. 

Step 3: Templatize

Your next step is to create a template for your personas so that they'll have a uniform layout. It's wise to search the Internet for personas and to study as many as you can; borrow the elements that most appeal to you. Your final product should be clean, attractive, and easy to read; you’ll probably be sharing this document a lot! Each entry should also include a photo of the person's face: You can purchase the rights to stock photos, or include of friends and family members.

Step 4: Fill in the details

When it comes to the text of a persona, provide the person's first name next to the photo. Below the name, supply information in several categories. The first grouping should be a demographic outline, which might include:

- age
- ethnicity
- place of residence
- educational history
- marital status
- any other relevant factors

Other categories could be employment details, technical knowledge, and relevant interests. Finally, set up a section that describes what the person would need and expect from you and your business. Note that you should use short phrases and bullet points to present these facts, rather than complete sentences.

Step 5: Distribute your personas

Once, you’ve assembled personas, make sure to share them with other designers, your stakeholders, manager, and anyone else on the project team. Remember, your persona will help you focus on your audience and ensure that your design is functional and relevant for your customers—making you more likely to succeed!

Sign up for our upcoming graphic design webinar!

written by Georgia Schumacher 24 September 2014

calendar

Mike Massengale & Garry McKee, senior full-time faculty members in graphic design at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division, present “Skills Graphic Designers Should Learn,” to be held Wednesday, October 8, 2014 at 6pm ET. All enrolled students are invited to attend!

About the webinar

Topics that will be covered include:

• The importance of learning to draw
• Learning the art of the pitch
• Learning the importance of teamwork

During the event, students can volunteer to speak. If you would like to speak, you can virtually raise your hand and wait to be called upon. In addition, you can submit your comments through the comments module in the webinar. Some of these comments will be read aloud during the session.

Register

If you're a current student, register for the virtual event at https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/125189783. Space is limited.

Meet the presenters

Mike Massengale
MikeArtist Mike Massengale is best known for his liquid vibrations style. Mike often uses music to drive the emotion of his signature style—warm, emotionally evocative images that are dreamy and tranquil yet alive with intense colors. Massengale’s mediums cover the gamut—from oil and pastel to digital painting. He is always studying new techniques that lend themselves to his style and his work has resonated with audiences and buyers throughout the U.S. and Europe.

Mike resides in South Carolina with his wife and twin children (son and daughter), where he illustrates and teaches full-time at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division. Massengale holds an AA in Commercial Art from Anderson College, a BS in Commercial Fine Arts from Appalachian State University, an MA in Illustration from Syracuse University, and a MFA in Illustration from University of Hartford School of Art. During the past 30 years he has worked in commercial art in a number of capacities including graphic artist, illustrator, animator, art director, and creative director.

Garry McKee
GaryGarry McKee earned his MFA from Georgia Southern University. Just after graduating in 2000, he began teaching full time as a member of the Graphic Design Department at The Art Institute of Atlanta, where he remained until 2005. In January 2005, he moved from being a full-time faculty member at The Art Institute of Atlanta to being a full-time faculty member with The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division.

During that time, he has remained active as a freelance print/web designer and illustrator with clients ranging from Tyco Electronics, to Marvel Comics, to a wide variety of local and regional organizations. You can find his work at www.theseersucker.net or view videos and tutorials on his Youtube channel: theseersucker. His Google+ and Twitter handle is theseersucker as well. As he explains, he “apparently has an odd fascination with the fabric.”

To find and register for more student events, check out the Events Calendar in the Campus Common today!

How to Choose the Right Typography for Your Next Project

written by Georgia Schumacher 18 July 2014

Typography

Choosing fonts for a project can be an overwhelming task if you don't know what look you're going for. Typography is just as important as a logo, so choose one that echoes your brand's personality. Here are some tips on how to choose the right font for your next project.

Define your style

Are you creating content for fashion, technology, or children? Your style will greatly depend on the subject matter of your content. For instance, if you're doing graphic design for a hip fashion marketing company, you may want to go with something bold and modern.

Choose professional fonts

There are many free resources for fonts on the web. It's very easy to download a few and make choices from there. However, only a few resources offer well-made fonts that are fit for professional use. Some sites that feature high-quality fonts are Fontsquirrel and Myfonts. You can also check out Google's Webfonts and Typekit for fonts intended for web-based projects.

Get opinions

Choose two fonts you are considering to use and create samples using both. Print them out and show them to friends, colleagues and anyone else whose opinion matters to you and ask which one they think looks best. Make sure you provide some basic information of the project you're using them for. Sometimes getting second, third and fourth opinions on a certain design can give you more insight and help you make a final decision.

Research

Look around for similar projects that have great exposure. Billboards, magazine ads and posters are great things to observe when gauging the appropriateness of certain typographical styles. Sticking with the fashion marketing example, find out what type of font what other fashion companies are using. What gets your attention? What fonts make sense when used with similar content?

Use licensed fonts

You may not be aware of it, but certain fonts are protected by copyright. Whether you plan to use a font for personal or commercial use, be sure that you are doing so without infringing on the creator's work. While some fonts may be free to use for personal use, there may be some restrictions on where and how they can be used professionally. To get more details, check out The Law on Fonts and Typefaces from Crowdspring.

Most importantly, choosing a font for your project is a personal journey. The typography you select should make a connection with you, your vision, and what you want to tell the world. While these tips can get you started, only you can decide where your font-hunting quest ends and your project begins.