What Is Communication Design? Everything You Need to Know  (2023)

What Is Communication Design? Everything You Need to Know (1)

Abstract painters express themselves through their art, leaving the viewer to interpret the work however they want. In many ways, the art is more about the viewer’s experience than about the actual art itself. The artist’s intentions aren’t really what’s important.

Communication design is the opposite of this. The responsibility of a communication designer is to develop the relationship between the viewer and visuals. Before they know what the visuals will look like, a communication designer will consider the message they want to communicate and how to strategically engage the viewer. They will consider what will capture a viewer’s attention first, the common associations that audiences have, and the psychology behind how design elements affect someone’s mood. They create designs that communicate a message faster than words can, but make sure that the messaging is also clear and compelling.

The communication design definition, put more simply, would be utilizing visuals that strategically express information. As technological advancements open the graphic design industry up to change, design becomes even more prevalent in our world. As a result, quality design is more important than ever, which makes it more competitive than ever.

Before we talk more about the specifics of what communication designers do, it’s important to understand how communication design fits into the bigger context of graphic design.

Graphic Design vs Communication Design vs Visual Communication

One of the best ways to define something is to compare it to similar terms.

(Video) What is Communication Design?

For years, graphic design was really the only term people used to express visual design. It makes sense, as it’s the term most people are familiar with. It can encompass the entire field of using visuals to deliver a message, or it can be used to discuss a specific, small part of design. Some people may use graphic design in the context of layout and composition, and also use it to only refer to the tools of creating graphics, like Photoshop. When a marketing department brings in a graphic designer, they are often hiring them to handle one specific task of design creation instead of handling the entire marketing campaign. In this context, graphic design only means the practice of creating visuals, as opposed to being a general term to cover all areas for modern designers.

Communication design is specifically used when discussing the strategy involved in expressing information through visual design. For communication designers, this can become the foundation for how they think about visuals and is, then, the real definition of what they do. Those who work in communication design may work in fields like branding, advertising, or web and app design. Their job isn’t just about the craft of creating stunning graphics, but about realizing the power of what their work can communicate and then using that to its fullest extent. If a graphic designer was hired to handle one visual element, a communication designer would be hired to both create visuals and to handle communicating a company’s message to their audience. They would see the whole picture of the campaign from start to finish.

The term visual communication is largely interchangeable with communication design and is, again, about strategically telling a story to an audience. If a communication designer was working on a billboard, they could use keywords, graphics, and design choices to visually communicate a specific message to the audience as they drive by.

While these finer point definitions draw lines between these terms and give you a better idea of the roles designers play in creating finished work, it’s the context of the conversation that will define what someone means when they talk about graphic design and communication design. If someone says they are a communication designer, you will immediately understand that means they are creating strategic visuals that express a specific message. If someone tells you they are a graphic designer, you may have to ask more questions to determine if they are working in communication design or, more specifically, working to create visuals of various uses.

Examples of Communication Design

When someone studies communications design, they come away with a degree that has them ready for a wide range of jobs.

A communication designer is ready with the creative and technical skills to create visually arresting graphics and the professional skills to handle large, complex projects.

Below are a few examples of careers pursued by professionals who studied communication design:

(Video) what is communication design, careers in communication design

Corporate Design and Branding

Communication designers who understand the nuances of successfully branding a business are in high demand. Every company wants to establish a unique identity in their respective field and stand out from their competitors in order to develop strong relationships with their audience base. A company’s ability to get noticed by more people leads to a more profitable business, so if a communication designer can showcase how they understand the relationship between design and branding — visuals and storytelling — they become an asset to a company wanting to expand.

Branding is largely about logos, colors, and typography, but it’s also more than that. Whatever design element you’re creating for a brand, it needs to be purposeful. Even color choice can have a serious impact. Studies show that color is directly linked to the purchasing decisions of most consumers — and these same consumers know that the right color choice or combination increases brand recognition. A perfect example of this? Target. Their bulls eye is not only one of the most nationally recognized logos, the red color also exemplifies passion and action and nudges consumers to make more urgent purchases. Based on the internet’s obsession with Target memes, it’s clear that their strategy is working.

A communication designer understands how to take these elements and utilize them to convey a specific mood. From color to font to layout to language, every design choice will make an impact on the company brand.

Advertising Campaigns

Many communication designers work in advertising. This can mean online video and static image campaigns, billboards, television commercials, and marketing materials like brochures, stationery, and business cards. While every designer working in advertising isn’t handling all of these types of projects, many take on work in multiple areas.

Advertising, just like branding, is a crucial part of any business. This demands a high level of creativity to create something truly unique and eye-catching, all while ensuring the entire message of the campaign isn’t lost. Some designers chose humor, like when Schick created a series of men sporting literal ‘beastly’ beards of animals to encourage men to shave. Or they can be weird yet practical, like when Ikea designed an ad for a new crib that also doubled as a pregnancy test. Or they can be inspirational, like when Shanghai General Motors created a campaign raising awareness for car safety by using real accident victims to get the earnestness of the message across.

(Video) 6 communication design basics

Book Cover Design

Yes, people do judge books by their covers. It’s important that a book cover design appeals to a certain audience, exemplifies a specific genre, and can communicate plot details all at the same time. Every design should reflect the book’s purpose. Dark Horse Comics, Inc. won an award for their colorful, chaotic design of Fight Club 2 (Library Edition), an homage to the dysfunctional characters featured in the book. Whereas the award-winning design for A Vicious Example featured dark, sinister, and ghostly depictions of buildings to give reference to the author’s time spent as a nocturnal security guard.

At Shillington, we task our students to think outside the box (so, literally outside of their computers) to create handmade designs for books, albums, and movie posters. This is a great twist on creating cover art, as handmade designs require more creative thought and energy. See some of their best designs here!


While many may assume that a photojournalist would study photography, a degree in communications design would be useful as a photojournalist today. When you publish photos in major publications, you need to both understand the technical elements of visual design and the story you are conveying to your audience, which are the basis of what communication design is all about.

Web Design

The internet has become an essential part of many people’s lives, and as such, new websites are created every day. Designers are needed to build effective sites that flow well, have visuals that communicate specific messages, and function on many different devices. As is true for most graphic design fields today, web design changes rapidly and is an exciting and competitive field. You could be hired to work as the designer for one company, be part of a design agency, or work independently and take on clients as a freelancer.

(Video) Life @ Communication Design

Mobile App Design

We continue to see a steady increase in the number of people who rely on their smartphones as part of their everyday lives, whether it’s for social connection, news, shopping, or work. Technology isn’t going anywhere, so it’s important that mobile web and app design continues to evolve. Mobile app designers may be hired by a company to create and manage their app, or they may create their own products and sell them through their own company.

This type of design work requires a lot of technical skills and an understanding of how visuals appear on various screens, paying close attention to user experience. An app must be visually appealing, but also easy to use. Shillington Education student Theodora Lamprinaki designed a cycling app called Cymplify as part of her coursework where residents of Oxford city could combine cycling with sight-seeing.

Packaging and Label Creation

People shop with their eyes. A great designer knows this and will carefully design packages and labels to stand out, either on the shelves of a store or on an online store. You may be hired to design a label for a bottle of wine, the information tag for a new clothing line, or the packaging materials for an online retailer. When it comes to packaging and label creation, there are so many opportunities for designers.

A communication designer needs to think about the visual presence of the package or label, but they must also think about how to make it practical as well. If you were creating a design that wraps around a bottle, you’ll need to think about the space and movement of the package and how it will need to change for a wine bottle versus a soda can. If you were designing the packaging for an online retailer, you would want to think about the customer experience from the moment it arrives in the mail to when they open it to what’s inside the box. Shillington student Majo Crespo uses color to tell a story for this new (pretend) candle brand, drawing on botanical elements to create a unique product. Majo describes it is: “A brand inspired by nature for the empowerment of women.

The Power of Communication Design

Communication design incorporates the elements of great graphic design and takes things a step further by considering the way audiences understand visuals.

(Video) Communication Design

When done well, audiences often aren’t even aware of all the information they were able to gather from just one visual. As a communication designer, it’s your job to fill the world with effective, beautiful work that also helps to communicate a larger message. What messages will your work convey?

At Shillington, we teach communication design and students learn design theory, gain technical skills and get to work on 30+ briefs ranging from print advertisements to thinking in 3D with packaging to designing a digital app. Learn about our online graphic design course and how you can become a designer!


What is communication design everything you need to know? ›

The process of communication design involves strategic business thinking, using market research, creativity, problem-solving, and technical skills and knowledge such as colour theory, page layout, typography and creating visual hierarchies.

What is communication design all about? ›

Communication design, traditionally known as graphic design, is the creation of visuals that spread messages and meanings in new and relevant ways. To do this, communication designers use new emergent media and technologies to collaborate and be responsive to the needs of businesses, communities and organisations.

What is communication design simple definition? ›

Communication Design is a component of design that uses visuals that strategically convey a message or express information. Communication Designers take an approach to engage their viewers and communicate the data and knowledge in the message clearly, majorly through print or electronic media.

What do you study in communication design? ›

In the Bachelor of Visual Communication Design, you'll learn to create visual material across a variety of visual formats and channels including broadcast, web, film, television, advertising, publishing, and industry. The degree allows you to specialise in one or two majors.

What is the importance of design in communication? ›

In today's society, a good communication design gives clarity, effectiveness, and aesthetics to the information hierarchy. Design is the new Art. To break the visual clutter in society, every piece of communication design should have clarity of form and content and a deep understanding of its target audience.

What skills are required for communication design? ›


Innate creative ability with artistic vision. Inclination towards technology and computer skills. Good visualization and the ability to implement ideas. Impressive observational skills and an eye for detail.

How can I improve my communication design? ›

Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills in a Design Environment
  1. Art of listening.
  2. Focus on interactions.
  3. Listen to nonverbal cues.
  4. Reiterate what you've heard.
  5. Have an open mind to new ideas.
1 Jul 2016

Where do communication designers work? ›

Institutions and government often employ staff designers for communicating to specific audiences for their programs and services. Museums, colleges, and associations have specific philosophies or missions that they express through a variety of messages and activities.

What are the 7 means of communication? ›

7 Means of Communication Available in India
  • Postal Services:
  • Telegraph services:
  • Telecommunications:
  • Courier Services:
  • Electronic Method:
  • Internet Service:
  • Radio and Television:

What are the 3 definitions of communication? ›

Communication can be categorized into three basic types: (1) verbal communication, in which you listen to a person to understand their meaning; (2) written communication, in which you read their meaning; and (3) nonverbal communication, in which you observe a person and infer meaning.

Is communication design hard? ›

Communications is an easy major if you are not a serious person. But, if you take communication seriously, it means that you have the art of many fields down. Is communication design, the right major for becoming an animator? Not quite, the right major would be, well…

Is communication design a good course? ›

These studies allow students to understand how to develop visual messages to convey a particular meaning for their intended audiences. Understanding the various career opportunities in communication design may help you identify your next career development opportunity.

How design is used as a form of communication? ›

Design is communication. Just like a writer or a speaker chooses their words to communicate a message, good designers choose the right visual elements to also communicate a message. The larger goal and message for the design and effectively communicating that message is what makes good design, “good”.

What is the most important in design? ›

Knowledge is the most important thing we have. A tool doesn't make you a better designer. Knowledge and understanding of design does. No amount of features in a design tool will make your design work more effective.

What are the main purposes of design? ›

The three main purposes of design is function, communication, and aesthetics.

What makes design important? ›

It Affects How We Feel

Depending on what something looks like, it makes you feel something different. We enjoy looking at beautiful products and buildings. It's the reason so many people spend so much money. Because they want to acquire things that look good as it makes them feel good about themselves.

What top 5 skills does a designer need? ›

8 Great Graphic Design Skills
  • Creativity. You probably don't need us to spell it out for you, but let's drill this home: Creativity is one of if not the most important graphic design skills. ...
  • Communication. ...
  • Typography. ...
  • Adobe's Creative Apps. ...
  • Interactive Media. ...
  • Coding. ...
  • Branding. ...
  • Delivering Presentations.

What makes a designer a good communicator? ›

Good designers are also good listeners. They hear the needs of their clients or customers and ask the right questions to get to the root of the problem. Good designers are good storytellers, they can craft compelling narratives the captivate their audience.

What are the 5 types of design? ›

The following are common types of design.
  • Architecture. Designing and engineering buildings and structures.
  • Interior Design. Designing interior and exterior physical environments that are used by people.
  • Landscape Architecture. ...
  • Industrial Design. ...
  • Fashion Design. ...
  • Engineering Design. ...
  • Software Design. ...
  • User Interface Design.
21 Mar 2017

What is effective communication? ›

Effective communication is the process of exchanging ideas, thoughts, opinions, knowledge, and data so that the message is received and understood with clarity and purpose. When we communicate effectively, both the sender and receiver feel satisfied.

How do you design effectively? ›

10 tips for an effective design process
  1. Request a creative brief. ...
  2. Identify the decision-makers. ...
  3. Discuss visual preferences up front. ...
  4. Consider creative assets. ...
  5. Outline your content. ...
  6. Consolidate edits. ...
  7. Align feedback with your goals. ...
  8. Give an honest and concise critique.

What is the future of communication design? ›

Metaverse will break Communication Design boundaries; it'll open up a whole new world of reimagining and strategising for effective communication. Newer Branding methods and marketing efforts for a successful communication strategy will be the thing of the near future.

Which country is best for communication design? ›

Best countries to study visual communication
  • Visual Communication in USA.
  • Visual Communication in UK.
  • Visual Communication in Sweden.
  • Visual Communication in Lithuania.
  • Visual Communication in Italy.

What are 3 careers in communication? ›

Communications jobs: 10 career fields
  • Social and digital media. The emergence of digital media has changed the way we communicate and consume information. ...
  • Public relations. ...
  • Marketing and advertising. ...
  • Human resources. ...
  • Writing and publishing. ...
  • Media. ...
  • Meeting and event planning. ...
  • Politics.
10 Jun 2022

What are the 5 skills communication skills? ›

  • WRITTEN COMMUNICATION. Convey ideas and information through the use of written language.
  • ORAL COMMUNICATION. Convey ideas and information through the use of spoken language.

What are the 4 main types of communication? ›

There are four basic communication styles: passive, aggressive, passive-aggressive and assertive. It's important to understand each communication style, and why individuals use them.

What are the 5 importance of communication? ›

Importance of Communication
  • The Basis of Co-ordination. ...
  • Fluent Working. ...
  • The Basis of Decision Making. ...
  • Increases Managerial Efficiency. ...
  • Increases Cooperation and Organizational Peace. ...
  • Boosts Morale of the Employees.

What are skills of communication? ›

Communication skills involve listening, speaking, observing and empathising. It is also helpful to understand the differences in how to communicate through face-to-face interactions, phone conversations and digital communications like email and social media.

What is the real meaning of communication? ›

communication, n. The imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium. …The successful conveying or sharing of ideas and feelings. Oxford English Dictionary. As this definition makes clear, communication is more than simply the transmission of information.

Does communication design require drawing? ›

"Graphic design is about communication, not drawing."

“Graphic design is about communication, not drawing. It is the means to create an emotional connection to a message and elicit the desired action from the reader,” Susco says.

Which is better graphic design or communication design? ›

The two fields also differ in their scope and focus. Graphic design is more specialized than graphic communications because it deals with actual techniques for layouts, colors and design that meets a specific purpose. Communications can include this, but its focus is often larger.

Is communication designer a good career? ›

If you love to communicate your ideas creatively, communication design may be a suitable career choice for you. Communication design is a specialized field of design that involves communicating through sensorial mediums of audio-visual, and sometimes, touch.

What career is communication design? ›

There are a huge number of career opportunities available to graduates of degree programmes in animation, video graphics and special effects. They may work in advertising, publishing, web design or the movie industry. Many go on to become animators, graphic designers and art directors.

Is communication design the same as graphic design? ›

If a graphic designer is a person who creates specific graphic or visual elements, a communication designer uses those elements in designing a strategic plan to communicate a broader message to an audience.

Which communication course is best? ›

Top 10 Most Popular Communication Courses of 2022
  • Interaction Skills for Impact and Influence.
  • Interpersonal Skills. ...
  • Global Leadership: Effectively Leading in a Cross-Cultural World. ...
  • Persuasive Communication: Building Trust and Influence. ...
  • Communication and Listening Skills. ...
  • Workplace Communication Training. ...
3 Nov 2022

What are the 7 major process of communication? ›

Seven major elements of communication process are: (1) sender (2) ideas (3) encoding (4) communication channel (5) receiver (6) decoding and (7) feedback.

What are the principles of communication? ›

Seven Principles
  • Comprehensive. People shouldn't be left wondering if there is more to come. ...
  • Clarity. The purpose of messages should be clear; worded in such a way that the receiver understands the same thing which the sender wants to convey. ...
  • Attention and Style. ...
  • Coherency. ...
  • Timeliness and Urgency. ...
  • Importance of Feedback.
14 Jun 2022

What are the 3 barriers of communication? ›

Although the barriers to effective communication may be different for different situations, the following are some of the main barriers: Linguistic Barriers. Psychological Barriers. Emotional Barriers.

What are the 5 keys to communication? ›

  • Honesty is the best policy. When you talk to employees, always be honest with them. ...
  • Speak directly to people. Don't rely on electronic communications, except to back up what you've told people in person. ...
  • Practice active listening skills. ...
  • Adopt a participatory management style. ...
  • Choose your words carefully.
3 Dec 2012

What are the 4 main ways of communication? ›

After reading this guide, you will better understand the four main types of communication: Verbal, non-verbal, written, and visual.

What are the 3 important process of communication? ›

Parts of the communication process

Message: This refers to the information that the sender is relaying to the receiver. Channel of communication: This is the transmission or method of delivering the message. Decoding: This is the interpretation of the message.


1. We need to talk... about communication design #16
(Andy Simionato)
2. We need to talk... about communication design #9
(Andy Simionato)
3. What is Communication Design? | Study Design at Torrens University Australia
(Torrens University Australia)
4. We need to talk... about communication design #10
(Andy Simionato)
5. Jason Lombardo, Communication Design Pathways
(Fashion Institute of Technology)
6. An Inside Look in a Graphic Design Class | CSUMB | Communication Design
(Jonathan Castanon)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Twana Towne Ret

Last Updated: 02/22/2023

Views: 6483

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (44 voted)

Reviews: 83% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Twana Towne Ret

Birthday: 1994-03-19

Address: Apt. 990 97439 Corwin Motorway, Port Eliseoburgh, NM 99144-2618

Phone: +5958753152963

Job: National Specialist

Hobby: Kayaking, Photography, Skydiving, Embroidery, Leather crafting, Orienteering, Cooking

Introduction: My name is Twana Towne Ret, I am a famous, talented, joyous, perfect, powerful, inquisitive, lovely person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.