What does your design say?
I’ve spent a decade trying to figure out what makes a good design. Most of my experience has been with the church. Starting out in video production/editing, & one day the pastor asked if I could make a logo. My answer was, “I can try.” Thus began the journey of making A LOT of bad designs – but eventually, they got better.
I’ve been blessed to make a career of graphic/motion design, with a focus on creating sermon series brands & motion graphics for church.
Whether it’s bulletins, sermon series, invites, signage for the building, announcement slides, even stage lighting, design is everywhere around the church. Are you being intentional with what it’s communicating? Or is it a jumbled mess that needs a makeover? Here are a few things to consider:
Just because a design looks cool, doesn’t make it a good design.
This was hard for me to grasp. I thought if I spent a long time on something, or made an animation complex with tons of layers then it was good. This isn’t the case. This is difficult to manage if you’re in charge of a creative team/volunteers. You may find yourself having some tough conversations with team members. The most important question to ask is: Does this design tell a story? What is it saying? Does it make you feel something? It can be very simple, but as soon as you look at a design, you should be able to pinpoint the feel/direction. It shouldn’t be filled with all sorts of themes, colors, fonts, etc. The designer shouldn’t have to explain what he/she created.
Is your language clear?
It’s easy for churches to have a lot of cooks in the kitchen when creating content. For instance: Your church may be doing a new series, which needs external print media, and is also running simultaneously with small groups and so on. Before it gets out of hand, it’d be wise to have a person in charge of crafting the language for this content – a communication “dogma”, if you will. Something that everyone must follow. The designer should also create several elements or layered files that every department can use. Different designs for one event can be incredibly confusing for your church attendees not to mention first-time guests. Get everyone on the same page before it’s too late.
Be more objective than subjective.
Yes. There is such a thing as bad design. This may involve tough love for your designer, but not all art is good art. There is an epidemic of bad design in the church world, which come with a myriad of excuses, yet I think there are ways around all of them. One big reason is the budget. “We don’t have the funds to pay a designer.” This may mean that you have someone on staff creating these designs, such as an Admin, volunteer, etc. – that’s ok, just don’t make the designs an afterthought. Find a couple of hours a week and have this person follow online tutorials. There’s an unlimited amount of free training out there. Just type your question into Google and you’ll find an answer. 95% of my education came from the internet. Maybe you don’t have anyone on staff or in the congregation that designs. Well, thanks to the beauty of the internet, there are tons of great church resources from print media to graphics, to video. Many for free even. Spend time searching, & you will be amazed at what you’ll find.
For churches that can’t afford full-time designers but need well-designed series content, consider checking out www.pixelpreacher.net. We recently launched & are building series content that includes everything you need for a successful series, from graphics, videos, project files, etc. We also have freebies as well. It may be worth checking out for your church.
I discovered a fantastic video a couple of years ago that would be worth sharing with your creative team. It helped me understand how to creatively span “the gap”. Watch it below.
THE GAP by Ira Glass from Daniel Sax on Vimeo.
I hope you’re inspired to make your design intentional & recognize the impact it can make for God’s Kingdom.
Alex Watson has created design & motion graphics for churches for the past decade. He has recently launched www.pixelpreacher.net which focus on creative content for today’s church. If you have any questions about design, etc., please reach out to his team at firstname.lastname@example.org.