Design Plan

Composition as Design: A Design Plan Approach to Production and Analysis 
Adapted from Compose, Design, Advocate by Anne Frances Wysocki & Dennis A. Lynch

Composers use available designs to design possible futures
~The New London Group

Statement of Purpose


  • What are the composers’ motivations in this communication situation? In other words, why are they communicating? What do they hope to achieve by building the piece of communication you are about to see?
  • What do the composers hope the audience will do or feel or think after they have experienced the communication?


  • Who is the intended audience for the communication? Who does the intended audience include and exclude?


  • What is the occasion of the communication? When and why is the communication taking place?
  • What is the place of the communication?
  • What is the larger social situation in which the communication takes place? That is, what messages might the audience have already received about the topic that will influence their reaction to the current communication?

Production Strategies


  • Contrast
  • Repetition
  • Alignment
  • Proximity

WTF (Why This Font)


  • Ethos (ethics): establishing the authority and/or trustworthiness of the composer, narrator, or subject within the communication
  • Logos (logic): Logos can refer to the overall reasoning that supports the ideas in a composition. It also refers to specific “logical” forms of arrangement (cause & effect, definition) or types of evidence to support an idea or argument such as statistics.
  • Pathos (pathetic): the use of emotion to engage or persuade an audience

Mediums & Modes

  • Medium: the form of communication, such as a video, website, brochure, academic paper, etc.
  • Modes: text, sound (music, voice, sound effects, ambient noise), still image (photos, graphics, drawings, etc.), moving image (video, film, animation)


Because almost all pieces of communication require an audience to move through them in time, the different parts of the communication have to be arranged. They have to be put in some order. Arrangements can be visual, aural, linguistic or some combination of the three. Some common forms of arrangement are:

  • Lists
  • Comparison
  • Juxtaposition
  • Repetition
  • Chronology
  • Small to Big
  • Big to Small
  • Before and After
  • Near to Far
  • Far to Near

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