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7 Ways to Elevate Design on a Budget

Recommendations derived from a recent SEGD conference for designers and signmakers.



The Society for Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD, Washington) recently hosted a daylong conference to help designers and signmakers elevate the experiences created by their designs. Why? Because consumers are tired of the expected and are seeking out an experience rather than a hard-sell. And experiential designers need sign companies to help with logistics on complex projects: “The minute we know we might get a project, we’re talking to fabricators,” said speaker Nathan Hill, partner and design lead, SpaethHill (Alexandria, VA).

  1. Complement the architecture; don’t combat it.
  2. Purposefully integrate a mixture of media (Joe Lawton, director of media + marketing; Media-Objectives, Chicago).
  3. Think about the value that designed spaces bring qualitatively and quantitatively. When they have both, check social media – people will be posting about it (#adobelife, Lacey Engelke, workplace experience designer, Adobe Design, San Francisco).
  4. A notable chunk of the population (8% of men and 0.5% of women per the National Institutes of Health) is colorblind. Use secondary letterforms and numbers in wayfinding signage, or try an alphabetical system.
  5. Consider making the graphic a structure itself, rather than applying it to a structure (Braulio Baptista, partner, ZGF, Los Angeles).
  6. Design it as if you don’t have any budget constraints first to avoid stifling creativity. Separate it internally – let one person look at budget, another at design. Consider cheaper materials.
  7. Budget an extra 20% for change orders and contingency fees and allow for some cushion in your budget. 



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