How can Content Creators practice better design judgement?

I want to talk about something that has been on my mind lately: the importance of design consistency and having a design-based criteria when creating content, especially for social media. It's frustrating to see the disconnect between designers and those involved in the publishing side of content creation. As a designer myself, I might prioritize an interesting arrangement or the style applied to content, but there seems to be a perception that such content may not have organic appeal. The idea being that nicely designed content looks more produced, and less "authentic."

One issue I've noticed in the realm of social media is that platforms often incentivize ugly design and deviation from our core message in order to gain better engagement. This is because social media algorithms prioritize content that generates high levels of interaction, such as likes, comments, and shares. Unfortunately, this often leads content creators to prioritize shock value, controversial topics, or exaggerated visuals to grab attention. As a result, aesthetics and design criteria often take a backseat to what's considered 'viral' or 'trendy.'

It's interesting that non-designers, when given the opportunity to create content with flashy design elements, tend to embrace it. They may not have formal design training, but they have preferences for colors, fonts, and other design elements. However, they may not think about them in the same way as designers do. That's where the challenge lies – explaining the importance of design criteria to non-designers who might not fully grasp the impact it can have.

What are some examples of design criteria? Well, suppose you are wanting to make engaging social media content. Aside from having interesting clips and good editorial material, which is the primary determinant of performance, there are also constantly changing trendy effects and styles. Design criteria would help to decide if and when you adopt one of those trends, some of which will work within your visual identity while others just don't. You might be scared that passing up on a trend will impact you negatively, but these things come and go very rapidly. You can afford to be judicious. It's more important that you are recognizable for your good, consistent visual applications. Editorial decisions are guided by an ethos, and few people are happy with merely reacting to what is going on. You want to drive your message within the digital media churn, so you should be using your design criteria to aid that goal.

Let's look at Apple as an example of a brand that does a good job applying design criteria. They are known for placing a heavy emphasis on design and aesthetics. Sure, their products would still be successful without such attention to detail, but the added value of design builds loyalty and allegiance among consumers. So, why should social media content creators be any different? We should have a through line or core ethos that guides our content creation, even if we're attracted to trendy effects or aesthetics. It's important to ensure that the chosen design elements align with the overall theme and message we want to convey.

By succumbing to the pressures of engagement-driven design, we risk diluting our brand identity and message. While it may generate short-term spikes in attention, it can also lead to a lack of authenticity and consistency. Instead, we should focus on creating content that is visually appealing, coherent, and aligned with our brand values. This way, we can attract a dedicated and engaged audience that resonates with our core message.

In conclusion, the challenge lies in conveying the significance of design criteria and consistency to non-designers in the context of social media content creation. Let's strive to bridge that gap and help everyone understand that design considerations, such as color palettes, consistent hierarchies, and visual identities, contribute to clear communication and can greatly impact the audience's subjective perception. By incorporating design principles into our content, we can create a more cohesive and impactful experience for our audience, while staying true to our core message and values.