Join Sean Adams for an in-depth discussion in this video Working with complex content, part of Foundations of Layout and Composition: Grids.
- Clients rarely turn over content for a publication in a nice neat package. I usually receive a file of different text documents, a hard drive of images and data in raw form. Putting this all back together again in a cohesive way is challenging at best, but that's the fun part of the job. My first step is to edit. Go through all the documents and begin to prioritize all the information. Often there will be multiple duplication's of information.
For example, one article may tell the story of research and development on a project. Another may be the way team members found information on that same project. These basically tell the same story. Combine them or delete one. I do the same with any raw data. What can be edited to make the document more dynamic and not repetitive, is a list people duplicated with the information that can be combined into one list.
Now that I've edited the information, I can begin to design the grid. Clearly, I'll need a structure that allows for flexibility, but at the same time I need to be rigorous about the rules with real estate and typography. The reader needs as much help as possible to navigate the complex content. So apply guidelines such as all images sit below a hang-line and all captions run above. Begin with one typeface in different sizes rather than several that can be confusing.
Use the page dynamically. You may need to divide the spread into clearly different types of information. A sidebar is a good technique to do this. Think of this as another voice, stepping in to tell a different story separate from the rest of the page. Raw data is dull, so I like to use the opportunity to incorporate charts and diagrams. I use multiple ways of delineating the information, bar charts, pie charts and diagrams, whatever.
They will appear cohesive as long as they are sized to stay within the grid structure and relate with color and typography. Complex content requires not just a more complex grid, it also needs to walk the fine line between dull rigid sameness and incomprehensible dense information. Working with a grid and maintaining real estate and typographic standards will allow for more visual diversity. That's more fun for you and better for the reader.
- Why grids and proportions?
- The elements of a grid
- The types of grids
- Designing a master grid
- Asymmetrical vs. symmetrical grids
- Working with column and modular grids
- Managing multiple grids
- Designing posters with a grid
- Using grids in other design projects