The Benefits of Graphic Design Knowledge for Journalists

Journalism and graphic design can go hand in hand. Here is why.

The Benefits of Graphic Design Knowledge for Journalists
Katie Metz // Adriana Lacy Consulting

There is a lot that goes into creating a great article, blog, or report. In order to engage readers, it is simply not enough to have stellar writing. Nowadays, there are many graphic elements that can help influence readability and organic search rankings. These range from embedded links to social media posts and even hand-designed featured images. One of the best ways to get eyes on your piece is by having great visual elements included. 

Many big newsrooms and marketing firms have their own graphic design departments that work in-tandem with writers and editors. The same can be said here at Adriana Lacy Consulting! However, whether you are working in a large or small organization, it’s important to have a basic working knowledge of graphic design as a journalist. This is precisely because of the aforementioned connection between great visual elements and high article engagement. While you don’t have to have a premium subscription to the Adobe Creative Suite or a graphic design certification, knowing the basics can help elevate your stories in the long run, and here is why.

Graphic design helps visualize key points of an article

One of the most effective types of graphics in journalism are infographics. These are considered to be visual charts that display research findings in a way that is easy to understand. Using infographics can be a great way to explain more precise research that can be found during the research process of article creation. This is especially true for hard data, as numbers by themselves might not be easily interpretable. By visualizing these data sets, the scope of an issue at hand can be depicted in the way they deserve.

An example of an infographic, designed by our in-house designer Katie Metz for our Digital Giving email newsletter course.

Graphic design can help improve readability for casual consumers

A great rule of thumb to follow while writing or designing is to assume your reader is reading the article while doing something else. They may not have a lot of time to read your article in-depth, so highlighting the most important parts through some type of visual work can help get across your message in a short amount of time. Here are some examples of potential ways you can utilize graphics in your article:

  • Highlight and preview important sections using an enlarged type
  • Include a graphic detailing data or other quantifiable information detailed in the article
  • Include photographs of interview subjects to put faces to names.

Graphic design can create more direct engagement

In a similar vein, well-executed graphic elements of a story can convert casual scrolling readers to engaged ones. The better and more intertwined the graphic is to the article, the more time the reader will spend on the web page as they dive deeper into the article. This can result in the reader deciding to read similar articles on your newsroom’s website, subscribing to your round-up newsletter, or following your social media profiles. Great content, for lack of a better term, can generate strong leads and loyal readers, and visual graphics are a key part of this retention.

How to get started with graphic design

The great thing about learning graphic design is that it is arguably more accessible than ever before. Programs like Canva and Adobe Express come with a variety of free tools that can help you figure out the basics, such as color pairing and object alignment. You can also find numerous courses online that can elevate your skills and help you build a separate portfolio. Learning how best to integrate graphic design into your articles is one of the best things you can do as a journalist in this day and age, so why not take advantage of it?

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