Understanding Design Jargon: A Simple Guide for Clients

by | Jul 22, 2024

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I know that diving into the world of graphic design can sometimes feel like learning a whole new language. But don’t worry, I’ve got your back! I’m all for making design fun and accessible so in this blog post, I’m going to break down some common design jargon into simple, easy-to-understand bites of information.

Whether you’re looking to enhance your brand identity or just curious about what goes on behind the scenes, this guide is sure to help you communicate like a pro with your designer.

Typography

Serif vs. Sans-Serif: Serif fonts have small lines or embellishments at the end of the strokes in each letter (eg. Times New Roman), while sans-serif fonts do not have these embellishments (eg. Arial). Serif fonts are often seen as more traditional, while sans-serif fonts are considered modern and clean.
Kerning: This refers to the spacing between individual characters in a word. Proper kerning ensures that text is readable and aesthetically pleasing.
Leading: This is the vertical spacing between lines of text. Proper leading makes paragraphs easier to read.

Colour Theory

RGB vs. CMYK: RGB (Red, Green, Blue) is used for digital screens, while CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) is used for printing. Understanding the difference is crucial for ensuring that colours look consistent across different mediums.
Hex Code: This is a six-digit code used in digital design to specify colours. For example, #FFFFFF represents white, and #000000 represents black.
Pantone Colours: Pantone colours are a standardised colour matching system used in various industries, especially printing. Each colour is identified by a unique number, ensuring consistent colour reproduction across different materials and printing processes.



Layout and Composition

Grid System: A grid system helps designers arrange elements on a page in a structured way. It ensures alignment and balance in the design.
White Space: Also known as negative space, this is the empty space around design elements. Proper use of white space can make a design look clean and focused.

File Types

Vector vs. Raster: Vector graphics (eg. AI, SVG) are made of paths and are scalable without losing quality. Raster graphics (eg. JPG, PNG) are made of pixels and can lose quality when resized.
High-Resolution vs. Low-Resolution: High-resolution images have more pixels and are suitable for print, while low-resolution images are better for web use to ensure fast loading times.
File Formats for Transparency: PNG and SVG files support transparent backgrounds, making them ideal for logos and other graphics that need to be placed over different background colours or images. JPEG files do not support transparency and are best used for instances where a solid background is acceptable.

Branding Terms

Logo vs. Logotype vs. Logomark: A logo is the overall symbol of a brand. A logotype refers specifically to the text part of a logo, while a logomark is the symbol or icon part of a logo.
Brand Guidelines: These are rules on how to use a brand’s visual elements, such as colours, fonts, and logos, to maintain consistency across all materials.
Tagline vs. Slogan: A tagline is a concise phrase that represents the essence of a brand and is used consistently across all platforms. A slogan, on the other hand, is often used for specific marketing campaigns and may change over time to reflect different messages or promotions.

Design Software

Adobe Creative Suite: A popular set of software tools used by designers, including Photoshop for image editing, Illustrator for vector graphics, and InDesign for layout design.
WordPress: A versatile content management system (CMS) widely used for web design and development. It’s ideal for creating and managing websites, with a range of customisable themes and plugins.
Sketch/Figma: Tools commonly used for user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design, especially for web and mobile applications.

Although this is just a crash course in design jargon, it will make you sound like a seasoned pro and hopefully help you feel more confident and empowered when discussing your next project.

As a freelance graphic designer based in Melbourne, Australia, I’m passionate about creating unique and impactful brand identities, and believe that great communication is key to achieving amazing results. If you have any questions or need further clarification on any design terms, don’t hesitate to reach out. Let’s make your design dreams come true together!

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec a odio dapibus, convallis elit in, placerat sapien. Proin sed lacus interdum, pulvinar lorem ac, volutpat urna. Ut a felis dictum est convallis iaculis. Nullam ac iaculis augue. Mauris sagittis ut nisl a cursus. Etiam ac elementum tellus. Vivamus arcu risus, lobortis fermentum mauris...

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