USGBC’s LEED logo has become an iconic symbol of achievement in sustainability across the world. So, you may ask, why would we need to create a supplemental wordmark design? We set out to create a wordmark that could serve as a visual reference to the LEED rating system that we could share freely with our community, collaborators and others. Our intent is for them to be able to use our distinctive wordmark when referencing LEED in presentations, educational content and other applications.
We went through a design process, and covered a few rounds of possible designs. The main goal was to have the wordmark remain easily recognizable as the LEED brand, but not look too similar to our existing program logo. We wanted to make a departure from our standard colors associated with LEED, and also create a slightly more playful mark that didn’t feel as formal as the existing program logo.
The final design we landed on mimics the beveled font that our program logo uses for LEED. We wanted to maintain that clean, simple feel, but also introduce a new palette of colors that felt less formal. The three colors we used are Pantone 7416 C, Pantone 7751 C and Pantone 7690 C. The LEED wordmark must always appear in its standard colors or in one color.
Two versions of the wordmark are available. The full version of the wordmark includes “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” below the acronym “LEED.”
This project almost felt like a rebrand, because we had such an established personality for LEED already. We really had to tackle what this wordmark should mean, and how we wanted people to use it.
If you’re involved with the web in any capacity, you’ve probably heard the term “user experience (UX) design.” It has become an essential element for any successful website. It can often be misunderstood, though, as “UX” can refer to different things, depending on the context.
The general term “the user experience” refers to every touch point a person has with a company or site—to the experience as a whole. However, the field of UX design tends to be more focused, because the user experience designer primarily works on research, planning, organization of site content and user testing.
UX design has existed in some form for almost as long as the web has existed. Designers (and the companies that hire them) have always wanted their websites to be useful and enjoyable. However, we made assumptions about what our users wanted, and a lot of times we got it wrong. We needed to establish best practices and find ways to test our theories.
Over the past decade or so, we have done just that, and UX design has grown tremendously. UX designers are in high demand. Our testing and organization tools are maturing, and you can find best practice research on the smallest details.
At USGBC, we work very hard to make sure we are putting our community’s needs first, so our web team is always looking for the latest UX research and tools. Currently, we are excited to start using InVision Studio. The tool has not yet been released to the general public, but it promises to help streamline the design and prototype process. This, in turn, will help us create more effective information architecture and make user testing more efficient, so we can make sure new digital product and feature launches delight our community right from the start.
Here are a few of our other favorite UX design resources:
- The best UX book, in my opinion, is “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug. It’s a quick read that goes over UX essentials and user testing, which he highly encourages.
- Norman Nielsonessentially writes the standards for UX. If I am looking for research, it’s the first place I go.
- Smashing Magazine is also a great resource. Their UX collection really gets into the nitty-gritty, and I have found it extremely helpful.
- Alistapart is an invaluable resource for all things design and dev from the godfather of web standards, Jeffrey Zeldman.
- General Assembly provides classes and workshops from some of the industry’s best.
- User Interface Engineering is another great place to read up on the latest UX research.
High on my list of goals for the year was to take more time to recognize—and celebrate—our amazing creative services and marketing team at USGBC. If you’ve spent any time on USGBC Studio, you’ll have seen the caliber of talent stockpiled within the team, and you’ll understand why gratitude topped my to-do list.
My plan? Submit some of our favorite creative work from the past year into industry competitions. (Usually we’re too busy doing the work to take time to applaud the work).
SITES advertising creative piece
- Winner of 2017 American Inhouse Design Award
Screen-printed USGBC T-shirt
This limited-edition tee for Greenbuild 2016 honored industry champion Rick Fedrizzi and was featured previously on Studio.
- Winner of 2017 American Inhouse Design Award
- Winner of 2017 Hermes Creative Award
Staying on top of design trends can be daunting. There’s so much out there, and only some of it is relevant to my job as an in-house graphic designer. How do I avoid getting tunnel vision, and keep up with what’s new?
Among the sites I look at every day are these three top resources:
- Behance really lets me see what other artists and designers like me are creating. It’s a good peek into the world of designers who may be trying out new trends, testing out new apps or using new programs.
- The New York Times Art and Design section is a great mix of news and art put together in a very digestible way. Sometimes it’s nice to read a page of text instead of staring at a new color palette for the coming year.
- Since I have my degree in advertising design, Ad Age is a resource I grew to love in college. Now that my job involves way more than just advertising, it’s nice to check out their Creativity section. They cover new logo design, packaging released in the market and new campaign strategies to reach your audience.
Image collage from above-mentioned resources
I subscribe to Communication Arts magazine, and it provides not only visual inspiration, but some insight into the top trends in design. They focus on award-winning projects, typography that stands out and agencies that are up-and-coming. Also, they profile artists, designers, photographers and agencies. I get this magazine in the mail because…well, I think getting magazines in the mail is the best. But you can also subscribe online.
Local design news is different than general design news. Reading articles about big New York ad agencies who are hitting home runs with photo shoots and large-scale campaigns can be overwhelming—and hard to relate to. It’s refreshing to see what local artists are doing and how they apply design in a more relatable context. My go-to for local design “newspiration” (yep, news + inspiration is a word) is #aCreativeDC. They take the time to curate work from lots of local creative communities in the Washington, D.C. area, which means what you are seeing is diverse—and always fresh! Not only do they have a web presence, they also host in-person events that give you a chance to meet other creatives.
I’m also a member of the DC AIGA design community, which is an awesome resource for local events to meet other designers and artists. I also follow Creative Mornings DC, which hosts a free monthly breakfast series for the creative community. They celebrate D.C.’s creative talent and also promote an open space to connect with like-minded individuals. Both of these local resources are a great way to meet people IRL (“in real life”) who can provide info and ideas about upcoming trends.
Around the holidays, all those mental notes we’ve collected throughout the year remind us of the things we want to do differently in the new year. These notions evolve into resolute commitments that we make to ourselves in order to become more awesome (as if that was even possible, right?). While thinking of my own, I asked several of my USGBC Studio teammates about theirs. Here’s what we’ve pledged to do in 2016:
When you design projects, it’s generally easy to get behind a simple process: you make a draft, send off the PDF, wait for some comments, and eventually it’s done. Designing clothing can be a little different. We recently needed to produce a t-shirt for our Green Apple initiative.
There were a few requirements: it needed to be timeless, needed to use as few colors as possible, and needed to include the logo. Otherwise we had creative freedom to produce anything we wanted.
I started by searching for inspiration. I went through some blogs, illustrations, band t-shirts, popular clothing lines, etc. I focused on Green Apple’s slogan, “Where we learn matters”, and the fact that they care about healthy, safe and efficient schools. I pulled all of these visual inspirations into my project notebook in Evernote, that way it was easy for me to locate later.
After gathering some inspiration, I moved onto some mockups. One thing that is really important when designing clothing, is to mockup your design on a template that is very similar to your final product. Sometimes a design looks really awesome on your white computer screen… but when you lay it out on the front of a t-shirt you realize it just doesn’t work. I always like to provide real life mockups!
We got some feedback on the mockups, and the result was a printed t-shirt that turned out great! Take a look at the final product:
Photos thanks to Ana Ka’ahanui.
So. Your boss asked you to create some graphics. And you thought, “Awesome! This is just the creative outlet I have been searching for.”
One problem: you are not a designer. And have never been a designer. In fact, you have never designed anything in your life! Unless your 4th grade diorama counts as “design”…
Never fear. Thanks to all the other people out there in your same situation, and the growing number of real, live designers out there, tons of resources exist. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Lynda — An awesome online learning resource for anyone. They offer online tutorials about how to learn graphic design, video production, photography, and so much more. Some courses require a paid membership, but lots of them offer a handful of free tutorials to get started!
- 99u — Making ideas happen. A great resource for taking what ideas you have, and making them come to life. When you aren’t in a design role, but need to make designed projects happen, sometimes you need a little help. They also provide local resources in case you need to bounce ideas off someone!
- Creative Market — Awesome resource for fonts, graphics, illustrations, and pre-made designs. Everything found on the site is designed by independent creatives around the world. Most items are pretty cheap, but some are free! Make sure to click the Free Goods tab at the top to check them out.
- Adobe Color — If you’re not a designer, sometimes the idea of selecting a color palette seems daunting. With the Adobe Color Wheel, they do the hard work for you. Just select a color, and decide if you’re looking for monochromatic or complimentary — Voila! HEX and RGB swatches at your fingertips. There is even an option to develop a color palette from a photograph.
- Canva — Canva is an easy way to develop graphics if you don’t have access to a real, living, graphic designer. Canva helps you create designs for web or print: blog graphics, presentations, Facebook covers, flyers, posters, invitations and so much more. Oh, and did I mention it’s totally free?
- Dribbble — Looking for inspiration from other designers out there? Dribbble is your #1 inspiration hub. Dribbble asks the question: What are you working on? It’s an awesome place to see concepts, in progress work, and final products. But not only does it feature work from designers, it’s also a great community to connect with. You can comment, ask questions, or reach out to different artists.
- infogram — So you need to make an infographic. But all you have are numbers. No problem. Infogram helps you pick infographic templates, and create a final product that is compelling and interactive. It’s data visualization made very, very easy.
What are some of your favorite design tools out there? If you don’t have access to an in-house designer, how do you solve your design problems?