Let me paint a picture for you. You’ve just started working with a new designer. You sat down with that person, explained all of your dreams for the design, and left the meeting feeling like you were really on the same page. Then the next time you meet with them, they present a design that is completely different than what you expected. It’s not necessarily a bad design, but it is definitely different than what you described.
This is what I like to call a “lost in translation” moment. And it’s exactly what inspired me to create this guide on translating “design talk.”
Why is there a disconnect?
Many designers received their formal education in traditional art. Yes, even the digital artists! For example, my lead designer, Frank Candamil, has degrees in Art and Digital Media. Because of his background, I know that when he says something like “hue” or “tint,” he’s talking about the classic definitions of the words. However, when a client says a term like that, it’s unclear if they are referring to the definition or a colloquialism.
Common design terms and meanings
After talking with our Brand Mangers and Designers at Rise, I compiled a list of terms that we hear our clients say all of the time and can be misinterpreted. Let’s explore the terms and what they mean to each party.
HUE, TINT, SHADE, and TONE
Client: These are all words to describe the same thing - color!
Designers: A hue is the purest and brightest version of a color, a tint (often called a pastel) is a color with white added, a shade is a color with black added, and a tone is a color created by adding both white and black, thereby “greying it down.”
Similarly words like: soothing, romantic, peaceful, trustworthy, youthful, and inviting are all very abstract and can easily be confused. Don’t worry, you aren’t the only ones who use vague words. Designers use them all the time too!
Getting on the same page
The key to a successful design, be it print, digital, or video, is to have excellent communication with your designer. I would choose designers that you feel comfortable talking to and that really listen to you. A designer that’s been in the game for a while will probably come to the table with a few questions that will help guide the conversation. I suggest taking time to find examples of things you like and things you don’t like, so you can review them with your designer. It never hurts to ask their opinion either.
COLOURlovers, what other terms should be on this list?
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