_what do you care about design?

I found a great quote this week from 'Creative and Design Expert' Keith Frankel at Hubspot:

"The relationship between text and visual elements is not sequential in nature. It is one of interdependence."

Always trying to shape what I do so it works even better with what other people do, this immediately helped me articulate a common thing I experience in work collaborations - maybe something you come up against too from the other angle.

Design—at least, graphic design, illustration and photography—is all too often seen as an afterthought of communication, a way of making pretty, colouring up for entertainment's sake. It is treated as a bolt-on at the end.

Here's the trick: the real power in design is when medium and message are thoroughly entangled. If you work with designers at all, it will really help you to know this, and milk it.

What do I mean by medium and message entangled? Here's a really simple, day to day example:

This week I'm working on some e-book layouts with my friends over at Valuable Content. Their message makes a big point of cutting out the BS to say what you really mean in your business marketing. They hate style over substance, because they want the world to be a better place, with more honesty and greater integrity. Style over substance stops us getting to the heart of what's sustainable, and therefore what is important.

You can imagine, then, my journey with them has been interesting. What often begins with a, "Can you format this and make our presentations look presentable?" has begun turning into, "How can we communicate the key points of this important message more powerfully?"

The e-book is a case in point - they sent me a word document to draft into layouts. I did just that, bearing in mind the end user, viewing the book across different devices, alternative screen layouts, typographic highlights, creating a visual hierarchy of information, and then helpful and perhaps emotive illustration of key points to bring out more expressive qualities. Heart appeal as well as head. They looked at this first draft, spotted some opportunities these design considerations throw up, took back their word document for editing and as a result I'll be developing version two later today.

SYMBIOSIS; dual wings on opposite sides both make a plane fly.

Whether it's developing a short e-book or something else much more huge, design should be implicit in the process, whatever your business is. I happen to be in visual communication, but apply this across the board - product, textile, architectural design, etc. Yes, I do care about the future of design, because I care about people and how we keep a healthy sense of progression and for me, that means good communication.

Sir John Sorrell has some really interesting things to say about it, as does Steven Johnson at Collaborative Change, both of whom I heard speak at last week's Cheltenham Design Festival (a really well-curated, challenging and inspirational event).

I think there really is—thanks Billy Bragg—power in a union (with a small 'u'). If we do what we do because we believe it makes the world a better place, our shared insights and expressions have the potential to become greater than the sum of their parts.