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By Erik Hofstetter
CEO Creative Visions

What are you looking at and what got you here? Your eyes. What got your eyes here is what we call the eye trail. There are certain visual cues that attract your attention and maintain your interest long enough so a message can be delivered. This is not done just with words, more importantly it is done by thoughtful graphic design.

To be effective, graphic design must first attract your attention. In today’s competitive advertising environment, you only have a fraction of a second to bust through the clutter to attract your potential target audience’s attention. Think of this step as a big red stop sign. Some advertisers think that a sexy girl will always do the trick, but quite frankly this approach can be a cop out. The true way to attract your target audiences’ attention is to know what they have affinity for and place it as a stop sign in your design. For instance, if you wanted to sell prescription sunglasses to men and your research indicated that the majority of your target audience had an affinity for golf, placing an image of a golf ball at the top of your design might work as a good stop sign to attract their attention.

Now the trick is to hold their interest. Once the eyes stop on the golf ball, where does it go? Well you better have something in the layout which points them into your layout or their eyes will drift elsewhere. If research shows that the most important thing your target audience wants from prescription sunglasses is for them to be scratch-resistant, then a headline placed under the golf ball with the words “scratch-resistant” should be included. An eye trail could be created by adding a motion line from the golf ball to the headline. Interest held.

The last part of effective design, which is quite often skipped because of designer’s egos, is to deliver the message. Using our prescription sunglass layout analogy, now that you have the attention of your audience, it is up to you to tell them what to do – they want to know! After the headline, show them a picture of the sunglasses positioned in such a way as to lead the eye from the headline to the picture and downward into informational copy that may describe an offer or money-back guarantee. This copy should close with a call to action so the viewer of the layout now knows what to do.

So often designs are created in advertising for the sake of design. At Creative Visions we don’t create designs that we “feel” good about – we create designs that are effective because they include the three key elements; attract, interest and deliver the message - with an eye-trail that leads the viewer through these.

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