30 Terms Every Designer Should Know!

June 4 / JN Design Studio
JN Design Studio Designer Terms

Ever feel like you are out of the loop when having a design discussion. Or feel lost when seeing certain terms on that job description you are applying for?

As designers not only do we have to be current on all visual trends, but verbal trends are just as important. When communicating for that next job , your business or employment, you want to give the impression that you know what you are doing. If someone can tell that you can’t speak the language, the odds are that you won’t get the job. Here is a list of the top 30 terms I feel every designer should know.

1. Design – To sketch out or mark out a visual pattern as a means to communicating a message or experience. Design can take on many forms such as Graphic Design, Web Design, Print Design, Product Design, Architectural Design, and many more. Any medium is fair game as long as you use it to communicate a visual message and/or experience.

2. Illustration – Visual storytelling. Usually illustrations have depth and various meaning behind it’s depiction. Illustrators can use a variety of mediums: paint, computer, pencil, pen, recycled materials, nature, and a combination of these. Illustration and Design can go hand in hand, where illustration would be the visual content and design would be how the content is organized.

3. Layout – How elements are placed on a surface or area. The most commonly used would be Page Layout. But this could be on a screen (Web Layout), in a house or room (Interior Layout), on a street (Architectural Layout), or anywhere that has a confined space where elements are placed.

4. Grid – A way to measure placement of elements on a surface. We tend to think perfect squares aligned together horizontally and vertically. While this is the most common, there a other grid systems you can use to aid in laying out your elements. The most well known would be Manuscript, Column, Modular, and Hierarchical.

5. Wireframing – Is all about how your elements will function together within a layout. This can be as simple as a quick sketch showing icons and placement of each element. Wireframes are created in the planning stage, well before you begin to create the final design. These usually have call-outs next to them to explain how each icon/symbol will function within your layout.

6. Mockups – Are created from the mockup but show how the final design/product would look before it is actually created. Think of it as a prototype. You can interact with it or see what the colors, pictures, and artwork will actually look like before the product is placed into production.

7. Trends – The direction of where an industry is going. Trends can be: the seasonal color of Fashion, the use of flat icons for Design, or parallax scrolling for Web Design.

8. Responsive Design – Mainly referring to Responsive Web Design (RWD), is the visual fluidity of websites across multiple mediums. Since mobile has taken over how we see the internet, websites have to adapt to these various screen sizes without losing it’s visual message and experience.

9. User Interface Design (UI) – Visual look and feel for the screen or application. Designers anticipate how someone will interact with the app or screen and design so its easier to use and understand. Your operating system, website, software program, and car navigational system are all designed interfaces.

10. Resolution – The pixel dimension of the screen. Every device has a different pixel resolution. Resolution sizes are good to know when designing for responsive websites.

11. Blog – Simply a journal or diary viewable online. Blogging has no limitations and can be about anything. Actually right now you are reading my blog!

12. Typography – The art and/or design of type. How text and letterforms are arranged to be read and communicate. Selecting font size, font type, leading, tracking, kerning, and hierarchy all are elements that constitute typography.

13. Leading – The space in between the lines of type.

14. Kerning – The space in between the different letters or characters.

15. Tracking – Adjusting the space within an entire word.

16. Dropcap – Is a large letter starting at the beginning of a block of text that has the depth of at least 2 lines. Drop caps got its originally use by aiding readers locate the beginning of a story or large paragraph.

17. Serif – pertains to a font that has tails at the end of character’s strokes. This font type would be considered a serif font style.

18. San serif – this refers to fonts that don’t have tails on their characters. I am currently using a sans serif font.

19. Style guide – the personality of your brand. The set of standards you define when creating your products.

20. Branding – anything and everything used when communicating the personality your business. The brand is the package of all the elements you use. Colors, content, pictures, layout style, font choice, and logo/symbol, used across all mediums when advertising your business.

21. Content – The language and verbal style you use when writing your content. Your tone, mood, grammar, and writing format.

22. Contrast – The visual separation of elements within a design and/or layout. Contrast can be color, shape, size, and distance of elements. Make sure that there is enough difference in the elements or the contrast would not be effective.

23. Repetition – From the root word repeat, it is simply the repeating of like elements throughout a design and/or layout.

24. Alignment – Is the balance and placement of the elements on a layout. It visually answers the question; How does this shape, text, or section balance or line-up with another?

25. Proximity – The distance between elements on a layout. Usually elements that are close are related to each other, and elements far away on the layout tend to not be as related. So you may group a headline with an image at the top of a page and have the logo and contact information at the bottom.

26. Color Theory – is the meaning behind the use of color. These can include color combinations, the color wheel, color harmony, etc..

27. Raster – visuals made of pixels. These are usually images or documents saved in any format other than .eps and .ai. When raster-based images are used, you notice the pixels when made bigger than the saved document size. Rasters also loose it’s sharpness when sized larger.

28. Vector – visual made up of segments calculated mathematically. These are usually saved as .eps or .ai. Vectors never loose their sharpness.

29. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – Are techniques used to obtain top rankings on search engines. These techniques include blogging, website optimization, commenting on other blogs, and other organic techniques that you don’t have to pay for.

30. SEM (Search Engine Marketing) – Are techniques used to Market your website to obtain traffic and utilize SEO. SEM goes beyond the organic techniques and adds paid elements to your strategy.

Share your thoughts and let us know what terms you want to see added next!

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