Design constraints

Design constraints

As a design company we often come across the perception that constraints for a graphic design project will inhibit creativity. So for example, a specific envelope size, a pre existing color palette or font, a previously made decision, a specific approval process, could be anything. But on the contrary, design constraints rarely provide real obstacles. In fact, they help by defining the playing field and focusing on what is necessary.

It’s very important to identify all constraints at the beginning of a project to avoid the potential tensions and conflicts. The more thorough the constraints are discussed, the smoother the graphic design process will flow.

Example 1

A constraint was the basis for a unique attribute for a graphic design project.

For a direct mail piece, the design constraint was to make the piece fit for a #10 envelope. The content was a timeline. Combining these 2 constraints, we created a trifold that opened horizontally, creating a very long, horizontal timeline—an unusual and very interesting format.

Example 2

Conflicts could have been avoided during the graphic design process if the constraints had all been identified at the beginning.

For a high-end presentation design, our design agency identified with the client team that the design and content did not have to be editable for the client team, even thought the final deliverable was in PowerPoint. This enabled the designers to work directly in the design software instead of PowerPoint itself. One client team member was not consulted for this decision who would have known that the content was only a draft and needed considerable revisions. This caused additional cost for the design project and jeopardized the deadline, because the client was not able to edit the copy on the fly up to hours before the presentation.

While working in the design software vs PowerPoint allowed the graphic designers to work more efficiently, working in PowerPoint directly would have only caused a few extra hours and the design would have been equally exciting. However, recreating the entire presentation to be editable directly in PowerPoint caused a lot of extra work.