I'm a Christian, a designer, and a gadget fan who lives in Cheltenham, UK.

This is my blog, a creative outlet to mess around and play with as well as a place that logs my thoughts and inspirations.

The Impact of Design

I’ve always been aware of design and the impact it has on peo­ple’s per­cep­tions. The more I’ve grown in my design abil­i­ties and under­stand­ing the more preva­lent this notion has become. This past week I have been on a work place­ment at a design stu­dio in Lon­don, and whilst going about my work each day I seem to have devel­oped a more height­ened sense of what design can do.
At the begin­ning of every design brief the first thing the design­er does is ques­tion what the aim of the project is. What, ulti­mate­ly, he has to do is deter­mine what the design must do, how peo­ple should per­ceive the prod­uct and how the design should work to achieve that. It’s almost like gen­er­at­ing a theme sen­tence for an essay or small group study, and sim­i­lar­ly it should be referred to reg­u­lar­ly through out the whole design process. This con­stant “appraisal” of the work in progress should even­tu­al­ly lead to the desired per­cep­tions of the view­er.
Whilst this approach is preva­lent in the com­mer­cial world, it can often be lack­ing in places like the church. I believe this occurs for two rea­sons. The first being a lack of under­stand­ing from the church and the sec­ond being that most com­mer­cial organ­i­sa­tions have a pro­fes­sion­al design­er. These two issues, could infact be seen as one. Most church­es don’t take on a pro­fes­sion­al design­er because they don’t under­stand the need. The pri­ma­ry aim of the church is to bring peo­ple clos­er to God, to intro­duce them to Jesus and this is the per­cep­tion of the church, gen­er­al­ly. The prob­lem for me occurs in the man­ner in which church­es go about pub­li­cis­ing events or even in their out­ward fac­ing image.
Now, take the most com­mon piece of pub­lished mate­r­i­al in a church, the week­ly notice sheet. I’d wager in the major­i­ty of church­es (at least in the UK), it’s done by some­one who is pro­fi­cient at using Office and can churn it out has­sle free. For most intense and pur­pos­es it does the job, the church mem­bers know what’s going on and when. But what about the view from an out­sider, some­one who is new to the church and does­n’t know how things work. To them, I’d guess, it would look slop­py and unpro­fes­sion­al. But my ques­tion is, would it make them want to con­sid­er what the speak­er for the day has to say about God? If the news sheet is slop­py full of lots of dif­fer­ent miss-matched fonts and sizes, would it make them con­sid­er what’s being said at the front. If a church can’t put enough effort into mak­ing the news sheet work well then is what has to be said at the front worth lis­ten­ing too?
My point being that, whilst for many peo­ple this kind of thing is not impor­tant, it is incred­i­bly impor­tant that the church does con­sid­er design on even the most sim­plest of things. Even the design or even non-design of the news sheet can make an impact on peo­ple’s per­cep­tions of the church and what it stands for. I’m not say­ing that design makes the gospel more rel­e­vant, but it can help to make it more acces­si­ble.

4 responses

  1. I total­ly agree that church pub­lic­i­ty could be designed a whole lot bet­ter, but it seems it should be up to us as design­ers to offer our ser­vices (free, cheap, or not, either way) to the church in order to pro­mote both the rea­son­ing behind the need for bet­ter designed mate­ri­als, and the ser­vice of doing so.
    (I often ref­er­ence Acts 2:42 about the pur­pose of the church: http://www.ebible.com/bible/Acts%202%3A42 but also remem­ber that there are oth­er pur­pos­es such as intro­duc­ing peo­ple to God, etc.)

  2. I total­ly agree that church pub­lic­i­ty could be designed a whole lot bet­ter, but it seems it should be up to us as design­ers to offer our ser­vices (free, cheap, or not, either way) to the church in order to pro­mote both the rea­son­ing behind the need for bet­ter designed mate­ri­als, and the ser­vice of doing so.
    (I often ref­er­ence Acts 2:42 about the pur­pose of the church: http://www.ebible.com/bible/Acts%202%3A42 but also remem­ber that there are oth­er pur­pos­es such as intro­duc­ing peo­ple to God, etc.)

  3. Total­ly agree Ben. It’s some­thing I’m try­ing to do at the moment, and some­thing I would love to do for a liv­ing (design­ing for the church etc). I’ve got some­things in-store for the next few weeks to help bring this a bit more atten­tion. Well I hope it will.

  4. Total­ly agree Ben. It’s some­thing I’m try­ing to do at the moment, and some­thing I would love to do for a liv­ing (design­ing for the church etc). I’ve got some­things in-store for the next few weeks to help bring this a bit more atten­tion. Well I hope it will.

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