Congratulations Dominique and Grad 2020—Jury identifies top case studies submitted by RGDs in 2017
'It's All In Your Head' poster by Emily Huynh (shown above)
To develop interview skills and better understand client relationships, first year students were asked to interview local seniors and capture their 'words of wisdom' in posters that would appeal to a target audience of 18-24 year olds.
Soft Skills vs. Hard Skills
One of the key things you realize when you start working as a designer, or start hiring designers, is that soft skills are just as important as the hard skills. It is equally important to be good at listening, to work well with others, to be on time, to be clear about expectations and to take (and give) feedback effectively as it is to be skilled at using the Adobe creative suite, writing briefs, pairing type, generating ideas, and so on.
Students often don’t recognize the soft skills that they need to develop because most assignments only evaluate the hard skills. How ‘nice’ you are to work with is often written off as an intangible.
Many of these ‘soft skills’ are old fashion manners, like standing when someone comes into a room to greet them, looking someone in the eye while speaking to them, speaking clearly, showing up on time, being respectful, listening without multitasking, etc. These things that were drilled into past generations in a way that they haven’t been with current generations.
Having the students work with seniors provided an opportunity to address these skills directly. If you’d like your senior to hear you, you must speak clearly and look at them while speaking. If you’d like them to feel comfortable, don’t take notes on your phone, use a piece of paper and pen while interviewing. What is the first thing you do when you meet them? Offer a hand and introduce yourself. Spend a few minutes making them comfortable before launching in. At the conclusion of the project, the seniors were asked to give written feedback on the students’ soft skills and how they could improve them.
These skills make the difference for whether or not a client meeting will go well and can impact whether your creative director understands what you're trying to do. Soft skills are what determine whether your peers enjoying working with you or not and can lead to the next step in your design career: being asked to present work to clients, being asked to represent their company at talks or events and other important opportunities. Without them, you might find yourself getting left behind.
Evolution of the project
Launching for the first time last year, the assignment asks first year students to visit Silver Harbour Seniors' Activity Centre in North Vancouver to interview seniors about their experiences and use graphic design to help share an important life lesson. This year's students had the additional challenge of designing a poster that would resonate with a target audience of 18-25 year olds.
Adding the element of the target audience made honest group critiques of the posters very easy. As the target age group, students were able to offer relevant feedback on each other's work by sharing their personal tastes and opinions.
Posters were put on the wall, and students asked their peers the following questions:
- If you were walking down the hall on your way to the cafeteria, would you notice this poster? If not, why?
- What is it about the illustration style, colour palette, font choice, wording, hierarchy of information, etc. that is not working?
- How could it be improved?
This project helps students develop the following skills:
- Information-gathering through interviews and research
- Copywriting: distilling information down into a concise, understandable phrase
- Idea/concept generation: understanding how do you take information and make it 'sticky', i.e. interesting and memorable
- Poster design: understanding hierarchy of information, composition, type pairing and selection, illustration style and composition, etc.
- Presentation skills
- How to take feedback and learn from it
This is a great project that helps designers and illustrators to grow in a number of ways. It will definitely stay part of the curriculum.
From the students:
What was the most challenging part of completing this project?
What were your main takeaways from your experience working on this project?
If you could give one piece of advice to next year's class of design students tackling a project like this, what would it be?
About RGD's Top Case Studies
Each week, Association of Registered Graphic Designers (RGD) features a project case study by a Certified RGD Member. Four industry professionals with a business/media background identified the case studies submitted in 2017 that they feel best articulate the design process and demonstrate the value design can bring to business.
RGD's case studies highlight the thought, research and insight involved in developing a project, providing details on challenges, solutions and results that often occur through the design process. By establishing an archive of case studies that cover a wide range of projects, RGD's goal is to build understanding and respect for the role of design in business and put a spotlight on the specific objectives and deliverables that can be addressed through the power of design.
For the full details, see: Capilano University's IDEA School of Design prioritizes soft design skills with unique first-year assignment