How to create current-looking graphic design?
October 30, 2007 8:24 PM   Subscribe

I am trying to design a banner for a public library web site. I find that all the banners I design are too retro-looking. Kind of 1950s, Alvin Lustig or Saul Bass inspired. Cute, but they don't seem to represent a forward-thinking, technology-oriented library. I am looking for examples of banners that might inspire me, and I am hoping you all might have some suggestions. Also, any elements you think I should try to include or try to avoid. This banner will be seen by tens of thousands of people, and will be the "face" of the library online. Links to examples of what you think works and why it works would be much appreciated. I had no idea that I would have such a hard time with this; I just don't seem to get 2007 design! Thanks.
posted by foxinthesnow to Media & Arts (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Well, I don't know how to design banners. But I can tell right away that you're limiting yourself by searching for examples only among other banners. Sit down and write out every single idea you can think of, no matter how lame you think it might be. Do this with pen and paper because it will go faster. This exercise is designed to purge your mind of the proverbial First Thing That Came Into My Head, which is death to the designer. When you are done with that list, throw it away and start over. Go all out when you make this list, including things you would never do or don't know HOW to do. Therein will lie your inspiration. Asking people for examples only temps you to imitate others.
posted by Lockjaw at 8:34 PM on October 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

The Kalamazoo Public Library? They were very forward when they first did their redesign.
posted by schroedinger at 8:38 PM on October 30, 2007

Think about the qualities you're trying to impart, the ones that really sum up the essence of the library.

Try to create a banner that communicates those qualities, but doesn't call attention to itself. You're trying to make the user's experience aesthetically pleasing and easy, not call attention to the design.

Try this, this, or this to see what I mean-- subtle, steady, welcoming.

And these aren't even the best-designed necessarily; they're just the first few I found with banners that work fairly well.
posted by Rykey at 8:56 PM on October 30, 2007

Oops! That third this should link to here.
posted by Rykey at 9:00 PM on October 30, 2007

Veerle has a step by step tutorial to create a simple site header.

I also like Dooce's mastheads. They might be very different from what you need to design, but I like to find inspiration from a variety of styles.

Before and After has a couple of banner/header tutorials in PDF, and many more with design tips and ideas. Very recommended.

Finally, some other sources from my inspiration folder: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
posted by clearlydemon at 10:09 PM on October 30, 2007 [4 favorites]

I just have to say... from a user point of few. That clean, simple banners are the way to go. The last two Rykey links seem just about perfect as far as my (untrained) eye is concerned. The banner's function is to let me know where I am and get an instant feel of the place. Strange, low-res pictures of people at computers getting "swooshed" into the futre don't do it for me.
posted by lucasks at 10:28 PM on October 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

I like banners that don't look like "banners designed by people who never had graphic design classes". The best I've seen have banners designed with the site, not as a separate element. If you are truly inspired by Saul Bass, then use his design approach and not his design trademarks.
posted by JJ86 at 6:00 AM on October 31, 2007

The Darien Library logo got a lot of recognition in the Graphic Design blogosphere.
posted by stackhaus23 at 10:30 AM on April 17, 2008

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