It irks my soul to hear someone argue that style doesn’t matter is the substance is right. Of course style matters. How we design the information we present matters. To me, design is a big word that means many things, including color, layout, font, graphics, effects, and any other elements that impact the visual or spacial experience of information.
Design is itself information. It communicates and augments the message. It’s easy for non-profits and, especially, churches to fall so deeply in love with their message that they forget to prepare it properly for their audience. Here are ten reasons why design matters for churches.
10 Reasons Design Matters
- You should do all things in a way that glorifies God, including your visual representation. This should speak for itself. What you do for God should not be sloppy or poorly thought out. None of us are perfect. There will always be typos and poor design choices. However, if we fail to invest time, effort, and value into our visual representation, we misrepresent the God we proclaim.
- Good, appropriate design makes you credible. Does your image match who you say you are? If say you are vibrant and progressive but all your fliers look like they were created on Microsoft Word by a team of colorblind technophobes, your credibility will be hurt. If you want to appear serious and dependable, you’re fliers, signs, and other visual assets should look professional, or at least like they took thought and effort to design.
People are already bombarded with more information than they can handle. If you don’t stand out, you’ll be filtered out. Gone are the days where people had to search out information for themselves. We are now presented with more messages on a daily basis than at any point in history. People have to filter. Design matters because if you look boring, irrelevant, or inaccessible you won’t make the cut.
- Like spoken word or music, design is another tool for communicating the gospel. It’s one thing for me to say “Jesus is alive.” It’s another thing for me to have Easter posters that depict Christ physically resurrected. Visual elements can help you communicate the gospel more deeply. With design, the truth can be both spoken and illustrated.
- Good design can unify, crystallize, and emphasize your main points. Churches give lists of information. Six, eight, or even ten hours of preparation may be packed into a 45 minute sermon. Good design can help organize all of that information for the audience. It can also help them see common threads from week to week or from ministry to ministry.
Good design can alleviate confusion. We commonly say a picture is worth 1,000 words. Adding visual elements to your service, uploading a video video, or making sure your documents are laid out properly can create context and bring clarity to your message.
- Good design helps the learner retain information. You can’t reasonably expect everyone to always remember everything you say. Well designed literature and visual aids can create points of reference that help your audience remember key themes from your sermon or upcoming events.
- Design can denote relevance. Colors, fonts, shapes, and overall visual styles are symbols that carry cultural meaning. Choosing the right symbols can communicate to your audience that the message you are presenting is relevant and accessible. Remember, people do judge books by their covers, so make sure yours sends the intended message.
- When you design, you reflect God’s creative nature. We see God’s beauty all around us. When you embrace and value good design you allow his beauty to shine through the individuals he has blessed with artistic and technical gifts. In this way your visual representation becomes an opportunity for both services and testimony.
- Good design serves the needs of the audience. Using properly contrasting colors can help insure that information is accessible to elderly and visually impaired persons.
I’m sure there are a bunch of reasons that I missed above. Do you have more reasons why design matters? Have you seen examples of good (or bad) design? Leave your feedback in the comments section below.