Brilliant Design Hack You Can Kiss

When you hit a design comatose, treat it like Sleeping Beauty. Give it a kiss. Or in the words of award-winning creative director Adonis Durado: “Keep It Simple, Stupid.”

Durado wasn’t trying to be crass when he told Piktochart his favorite design hack, Kiss for short. The US-based design expert is also known for his edgy poetry.

“An essential part of my design process is editing. After I’ve done designing, I would often ask myself what elements I can remove that will still make my design work, or how I can simplify it further but still make it work,” says Durado, who is considered a design pioneer among peers.

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Adonis Durado is an award-winning creative director and visual artist.

Simplicity is an art form, and in the case of design, nothing can be more true. 

Durado is a big fan of decluttering design, with art working hand in hand with content to create a readable visual that leaves an impact. 

The design wizard says the best way to cut the visual clutter is to pay attention to the page elements. Borders, multi-colored palettes, and even a combination of fonts can add to the clutter, so make sure to strike a balance in your design.

Adonis of design

Durado has spent the last 20 years introducing his brand of design to advertising agencies and media organizations; leading the redesign of at least three award-winning newspapers in the UAE, Oman and the Philippines. His efforts have been recognized with awards from the Society for News Design, Society of Publication Design, Malofiej Infographic Awards and the World Association of Newspapers, among others.

Durado, 44, is now an instructor at Ohio University where he was awarded with a Knight Fellowship. He moved to the US after serving as Design Director of Times of Oman. 

He is also the design consultant behind the new look of Sun.Star Cebu, a 38-year-old US-language newspaper in the Philippines where he worked as a promising designer in the first years of his career before moving on to spearhead the design of XPRESS, the sister publication of Gulf News in Dubai.

On his Sun.Star redesign project, Durado said in a previous interview that he hoped to “bring a new level of sophistication in visual journalism” to give the regional paper an international design flair. 

The evolution of Sun.Star Cebu’s newspaper design. Photo by Sun.Star Cebu

“Sun.Star’s compact look has a design DNA of complex grid and elegant typography. And I also want to showcase that good design is very much utilitarian. Design that champions content. Design that caters to two types of consumers: the readers and the scanners,” he said, revealing that he had offered redesign solutions to the popular publication “about 15 years ago, and I’m glad they will finally see the light of day”.

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In the following Q&A with Piktochart, Durado talks about his thoughts on design, the mobile demand and his most challenging project.

Why is design important?

I guess there’s nothing in this world that doesn’t involve design. I view design as an integral part of the content. Or perhaps it’s the embodiment of content. 

What are your thoughts on designing for web?

It is vital to have a presence across all platforms. Nowadays, newspapers build their brands not only in traditional and new media but as well as in emerging media and other channels. For example, The New York Times and other big news organizations have very active social media presence on Facebook and Snapchat.  They can be accessed not just in our smartphone, tablet, and wearable device, but in the smart TV or VR channels. It rings true what I heard from a news design guru that in the past, it’s the readers who come to the news, but nowadays it’s the news that comes to the readers. 

What are your tips to a cross platform design?

Always design for the platform. Think about its limitations and understand its intrinsic quality or feature. For example, if you created an interactive infographic for the web and you want to adapt it for your mobile readers, you can’t just translate the same graphic by merely reducing the size of the elements to fit into the small screen. One needs to rethink the best way to present it. I’d say for mobile, an infographic in video format (or an animated infographic) would be the most effective. 

Why is it important to design primarily for mobile?

You need to consider that there are more mobile users now than ever. Most of us read our news, play games or do business transactions through our smartphones. It’s becoming an indispensable tool more than a desktop or a laptop. We spend more screen time with our mobile.

What’s your top tip to a mobile-friendly design?

In designing for mobile, one crucial consideration apart from overcoming the limitation of the screen is to bring all clickable elements closer to the thumb.

What was the most challenging project you worked on? 

The most challenging project that I’ve done so far was the launch of the redesign of two newspapers – the Times of Oman and Al Shabiba, which happened simultaneously. I had to manage two design teams composed of English-speaking designers for Times of Oman, and Arabic designers for Al Shabiba. I only had three months to work on the design, as well as do the restructuring of the creative department and the hiring of staff. 

I managed to pull it off quite successfully since my boss was very supportive of me. But it was a backbreaking experience. I was lucky to be able to hire talented people around the world. And just over a year under my helm, we were one of the most awarded media organizations in the Middle East.

What’s keeping you busy now?

I am currently working on my Master of Fine Arts production thesis on visualizing the Philippine storms from the 1880s to the present. It involves various platform components including print, online, and augmented reality and virtual reality.

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