Ask this one question to create better designs…

Shannel Wheeler
4 min readJul 3, 2022

“Who is this for?”

This is the question every graphic designer should ask for every project. You can ask it out loud or internally, but you’ll need to know the answer to execute a successful output. Graphic design is visual problem solving for an intended audience; that means that the designer should always be considering who that intended audience is. Here are three points to remember as you consider this important question:

Designer / client / user alignment

Oftentimes, you’ll be designing not only for your direct client but also for the customers or users of the client’s product or service. How do you ensure that your designs visually communicate effectively to both parties? Alignment is the key. Your client must first be aligned with the needs of their own customers/users and prioritize those needs first. For example, the design client is a daycare center owner. The owner’s customers are parents and the users are their children who will stay at the daycare. The daycare center owner wants to design fun signage for the interior of the building and also some welcoming marketing collateral for the parents; they understand that the marketing collateral must appeal to the parents and the signage must appeal to the children.

This alignment of understanding makes the job much easier for the designer because they understand the tone, imagery, and messaging that they should apply to appeal to the parents and also the children. When all parties are aligned in communicating the right visual messaging, the designer has more clarity to execute the project effectively for the right audience.

The audience’s needs over personal preference

Sometimes designers make the mistake of getting caught up in their own personal preferences. “I like these shapes…I prefer these colors…I like this font the most”. But do these “I” statements have anything to do with what the audience needs? I remember creating some designs for a government organization years ago; I wanted to spruce things up and make the visual elements look a little more “fun”. But the client reminded me that the people consuming my designs were not drawn to “fun” looking collateral — they found more credibility in marketing…

Shannel Wheeler

Creative professional, designer, author, instructor. Creating with purpose. Teaching and inspiring by design. Start learning design: