16 February 2015

3 Tips For Achieving Unity In Your Design

“The whole must be greater than the sum of its parts.” If a design respects this rule, then it’s unified. 

The principle of unity is one of the most important design principles. A design is unified when all the elements work together to support the design as a whole. It is unified when the elements don’t compete with each other, but rather support each other towards the common goal of communicating a message. The elements of a design should look like they belong together, rather than being arbitrarily placed on a page, slide, website, etc.   

Why is unity important?

The principle of unity is important for two reasons:
  • People naturally look for a connection between elements. They see the whole first and then the sum of its parts.
  • The goal of a design is to communicate a single message. [Tweet this] The more your elements are unified, the more the viewer will perceive your message as a single message.
You can achieve unity by paying attention to your choices of images, colours and style. Here are three tips to create a unified presentation (these principles are also valid for documents, websites, leaflets, you name it).

(1) Use the same font

Better yet, use the same professional font. Calibri is not a professional font. Helvetica is a professional font. You could use two (at most three) fonts as long as there is a reason for it. If there is no reason, then stick to one font only. In the presentation below I used two fonts: Gotham and Over the Rainbow. The former as the main font and the latter to give some additional comments a “human” touch. The reason for a second font was that I wanted to distinguish the main content from the comments. 

(2) Give the same tone to images  

This presentation by Ethos3 is a perfect example of consistency in the use of imagery. As you can see, the designer applied the same greenish effect to each image.  

Extra tip: to achieve a similar effect in PowerPoint or Keynote you can simply place a coloured rectangle above each of your images and increase the transparency. It won’t be exactly the same effect as in the above deck, yet it’ll make your images look like they belong together. In the before-after slides below, you can see the original images on the left and the same images with a transparent blue shape placed above them on the right.     

(3) Create a colour pallet

Even better, derive a colour pallet from an image that best represents your message. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a professional designer to do this. Last year I wrote a super easy step-by-step guide on how to derive a colour pallet from an image and use it throughout a presentation. 
For every element you use in your design, ask yourself why. Why did I choose that font? Why did I choose three fonts? Why did I use this colour rather than that colour? Asking yourself why is the first step to achieving unity.
Ideally, the relationship between the elements of your design should be so well defined that whatever you change would make your design worse.

Thanks for reading! If you found some value in this article, I'd really appreciate you sharing it out to you network. 

1 February 2015

7 Lessons From Guy Kawasaki They Won't Teach You At Business School

Chief Evangelist of Canva, a graphics-design online service. Executive fellow at the Haas School of Business at U.C. Berkeley. Entrepreneur and former advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. Author of 13 books, including the best business book ever written: The Art of The Start, which has now been fully revised and expanded for the first time in a decade (available here from March). If you are an entrepreneur, or you want to become one, or you are simply interested in business and entrepreneurship, and you haven't read this book, go buy one! To give you and idea, here you can watch Guy presenting the book in 2006. Guy Kawasaki is one of the most enchanting business minds of our times. Because of his experience, he has so many valuable lessons to teach us. A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to meet him in London at an event organized by 3-beards.  

Here are 7 lessons I've learnt by reading his books and by following him online in the last years. 7 business lessons they won’t teach you at business school.  

(1) Make meaning 
The best reason to start a company is not to make money, but rather to make meaning. [Tweet this] There are three ways to make meaning:
  • Increase the quality of life: Spotify lets you find your favourite music in a second. It increases your quality of live. 
  • Right a wrong: Canva makes design simple for everyone. Why has Melanie Perkins started Canva? Because she thought that going through the pain of learning how to use Photoshop to create nice designs was wrong. Hence, she fixed that wrong.  
  • Prevent the end of something good. You see something beautiful which is being ruined and you can't stand that. So you start up to prevent that.
If you start up solely to make money, you won’t make meaning and most probably you won’t make money either. But if your goal is to make meaning, you’ll eventually make money too. As Richard Branson says, "do good, have fun, and the money will come.”

(2) Make a mantra 
Do not make a mission statement for your organisation. Make a mantra instead. Let’s compare the two with an example. 

Here is (or was) Wendy’s mission statement: 
The mission of Wendy’s is to deliver superior quality products and services for our customers and communities, through leadership, innovation and partnerships.

As Guy puts it, “this is a useless kind of statement. It is too long, not unique, not memorable.” If you go to the Wendy’s website now, you’ll see at the top of the page four words: Quality is our recipe. That’s a mantra! In fact, that’s a great mantra. It explains every employee and every customer what  they stand for.

Another examples of good mantras:
  • Spotify: Music for everyone 
  • Canva: Democratize design  
  • Nike: Just do it! 
(3) Jump to the next curve
“Don’t be content with doing things 10% or 15% better. Do things 10 times better”, Guy says.

Here are two examples:
  • The laser printer: The printing business jumped to next curve when the laser printer was invented. At the time, a printer company wouldn’t be happy with simply introducing more typefaces. It would shake up the industry by jumping to the laser printer curve.  
  • Amazon: Jeff Bezos didn’t go from 250,000 books in an analog book store to 300,000 books in an analog book store. It went to 2.5 million books in a digital book store. He jumped to the next curve.
(4) Don’t worry, be crappy 
Having the above in mind, you then need to get going and ship. Ship, learn, and test. Then repeat. Don’t wait for your product to be perfect, because it will never be. In fact, your product doesn't have to be perfect—it has to be better than before. “Lots of things made the first Macintosh in 1984 a piece of crap—but it was a revolutionary piece of crap”, Guy says. 

(5) Follow the 10/20/30 rule
The 10/20/30 rule is for presenters. It goes like this:
  • You should be using no more than 10 slides in your presentation
  • You should be able to deliver it in 20 minutes 
  • You should not be using a font smaller than 30 points. Yes, 30 points!
Even though I don’t follow this rule strictly, I do like it. I don’t follow it strictly because I don't believe in a one-size-fits-all approach. However, the 10/20/30 rule does a great job at pointing out that when it comes to presentations, simplicity is king.   

(6) Hire better than yourself 
You must have heard this hundreds of times: "As an entrepreneur, you should hire A players." Guy goes a step further. He suggests that A players hire A+ players. You should hire better than yourself. As he goes, “B players hire C players, C players hire D players, and D players hire E players. If you start hiring B players, you’ll wake up one day being surrounded by Z players.”  

(7) Be a mensch 
This is my favourite. It’s not a lesson in business, but rather a lesson in life that you can apply in business. A mensch is someone who’s admired and trusted—someone whose opinion is sought. There is no higher praise than being recognised as a mensch. There are three ways to become one: 
  • Help people who cannot help you: Help for the pleasure of helping.
  • Do the right thing, the right way: This is about morality! There are certain "absolutes" in life we must always adhere to.  
  • Pay back society: Entrepreneurs are blessed with the ability to create great things. Therefore, they have a moral obligation to pay back society. 
Ultimately, at the end of your life you'll not be judged by how many things you own—you'll be judged by the answer to this simple question: “Did you make the world a better place?”. [Tweet this]

The links in the above presentation work best if you open it directly in Slideshare.  
Thanks for reading! If you found some value in this article, I'd really appreciate you sharing it out to you network. 

Photo: Me and Guy Kawasaki in London