Designing for Coronavirus: Has the Pandemic Changed Graphic Design for the Better?

Jessica Davies
July 17, 2020

“The life of a designer is a life of fight. Fight against the ugliness. Just like a doctor fights against disease. For us, the visual disease is what we have around, and what we try to do is cure it somehow with design.” - Massimo Vignelli, Graphic Designer

Day by day the world evolves and the fight against the infectious coronavirus disease continues. Alongside the spread of the disease came the spread of many emotions such as fear, anxiety, and seclusion as the World Health Organization announced the commencement of the pandemic. Self-isolation led to loneliness and boredom, paired with the unknown of the virus, quickly causing people to turn to the online world.

That’s when the role of a digital media designer comes into play, as we contribute to the fight against a different kind of disease. We are not on the frontlines like doctors and nurses in hospitals selflessly taking care of the sick, but we are on the frontlines of every phone, computer, TV, or billboard one may come across when in quarantine.

Some factors to consider when designing during this time, whether a novice or advanced designer, are motivation, accuracy, and audience. Once stuck in a rut or a constant routine, we often lose interest and therefore our creativity tends to dissipate, decreasing our productivity levels. Many designers often find it difficult to keep motivated and suffer from creative block.

However, with the right environment, creatives can lift themselves back up! For example, my workspace has many different comfort measures, inspirational works of design pieces, and all the right tools I need to do my job. Treat yourself to that Adobe subscription or sketchbook that you’ve been eyeing for the past six months. After all, to be motivated you need to have the right tools and the excitement to design.

Secondly, I can’t stress accuracy enough. Similarly to the doctor-patient confidentiality and trust between their relationship, the population must also trust digital designers with the content and message they convey through their work. Designers have a responsibility as communicators to provide timely, relevant, and credible content to the public. Facts are facts! Make sure your sources are reliable so your viewers can trust your content.

Finally, your audience. Depending on who your target audience is, you may want to consider wording and vocabulary, simplicity versus complexity, visuals or animations, and tone. You don’t want to make the mistake of making a poster about COVID-19 masks and social distancing with the intention of healthcare professionals seeing it when really, your audience is a class of first graders.

When these three factors are forgotten or not used properly, I consider that to be a virus. I take part in the fight against the visual disease and the ugliness that comes alongside COVID-19, using my design skills to cure our visuals around us by creating tools and effective graphics to communicate and send a message. By doing so, we can cure the miscommunication, misinterpretation, and misrepresentation of COVID-19 and help to connect with our audience’s wide range of emotions that come with this pandemic.

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