Even in the age of social media, political graphic design still matters.
Political campaigns and elections require plenty of products and materials to promote candidates and provide information to voters.
Political campaign design is similar to advertising design in many ways, but it also has its own characteristics.
Of course, red, white, and blue the most popular colors used on American political campaign materials, including posters, yard signs, buttons, brochures, billboards, and on candidate websites. Stars and flags are patriotic elements typically used in design. From far away, we are able to recognize political campaign materials based on their design conventions.
Some designers, however, decide to jazz up their campaign designs to help their candidates stand out from the crowd. Design sources caution against going too far outside the box, because the message sent from campaign materials is tied to a candidate’s image.
Doing something different from the typical color scheme is OK as long as the design follows the best practice of using colors that makes the text easily readable. Many campaigns today incorporate a variety of colors, including yellow, green, and black.
Good design is not only needed for campaigns, but also come election day. Ballots, voter information, and polling place materials need to be designed in a way that is clear and easy for citizens to use.
AIGA, a professional association for design, established Design for Democracy in 1998 to apply design tools and thinking to increase civic participation by making interactions between the U.S. government and its citizens more understandable, efficient, and trustworthy.
Design for Democracy, a collaboration of designers, researchers, and policy-makers, offers election design guidelines derived from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission report Effective Designers for the Administration of Federal Elections. Here are a few of the guidelines:
- Use lowercase letters because they are easier to recognize than all capital letters.
- Use big enough type because “fine print” is hard to read and may intimidate voters. Use minimum type sizes of 12 points for optical scan and 25-point for touch screens.
- Use accurate instructional illustrations. Visual instructions help low-literacy and general-population voters.
- Use contrast and color functionally. Use color and shading consistently. Color cannot be relied on as the only way to communicate important information.
Author: Darice Britt