Jessica Helfand

Monday, February 20, 2006




Corporate Identity (or Corporate Design) The visual representation of an organization, including its logo, design, typefaces and colours, as well as its philosophy. In general, this amounts to a logo (logotype and/or logogram) and supporting devices commonly assembled within a set of guidelines. These guidelines govern how the identity is applied and confirm approved colour palettes, typefaces, page layouts and other such methods of maintaining visual continuity and brand recognition across all physical manifestations of the brand.
Corporate Identity beschreibt das strategische Konzept zur Positionierung eines Unternehmens. Dies umfasst die Definition der Identitätsmerkmale sowie deren Integration und Koordination in ein kongruentes Handlungskonzept. Ziel ist es, auf Dauer ein profiliertes und klar erkennbares Bild im Kopf der Konsumenten zu verankern (Corporate Image).
Having a corporate identity, though, implies more than just having a well designed logo. There are many companies capable of designing a good looking logo, unfortunately, too many of these logos are not created to be part of a consistent corporate identity system and actually help you send the message your clients/partners need to hear.
Visual System Design offers consulting and design services to those who wish to communicate aurally or visually with others. Whether your audience is local, distant, or both, VSD has the talent and experience necessary to help you reach your goals.
Graphic design is the art of visual communication, the visual representation of ideas or concepts. How do you succeed as a graphic designer? Study the movements that shaped today's visual world, and learn how to conceptualize projects, reinvent clichés, create balanced layouts, distill complex information, and motivate your audience. In this advanced, hands-on course, you'll build skills for the toughest graphic design projects. The focus of this class will be on creating 2D digital design projects. Class assignments include postage design, annual report layout, poster and book design, an art poster, and a direct mail piece.


Interactive DesignSite Design Proposals & Refinement

If you ordered the SmartBiz package you will be presented next with a design for your new web page. As usual, we will closely follow your instructions but also let you know our opinion and advice on how to move forward with your web project. The refinement process will take as long as necessary for you to be fully satisfied with the work we provided.

Interactive DesignSite Design Implementation & Configuration

When you agree with the final design for your site, we will create the actual pages and will install the pages on your server for free. If you don't already have a domain name and / or a hosting account, you can order a hosting package (domain name included) for a discounted price (available for clients only).Interaction Design is the creation of a representational dialogue among people and intelligent products, environments and communications encountered in their everyday experience.As products become more complicated, often due to technology, designers are facing new challenges in gaining strong user acceptance. The number of people using and developing products powered by some sort of technology continues to grow; these new systems are more functional and robust than ever, providing more features, functionality, and capabilities.

However, with the added complexity, the new generation of products is becoming more difficult to understand and use. As a result, users become more frustrated, unhappy and less productive. Large portions of functionality in the complicated software products and consumer electronics go unused, and products often fail in the consumer world due to their unnecessarily complicated user interfaces.Interaction Design exists as the design of behavior, bounded by three core interests: Human, Technical and Aesthetic.

Interaction design (IxD) is the branch of user experience design that illuminates the relationship between people and the machines they use. While interaction design has a firm foundation in the theory, practice, and methodology of traditional user interface design, its focus is on defining the complex dialogues that occur between people and interactive devices of many types-from computers to mobile communication devices to appliances.Historically the term interaction design has its roots in GUI-design. Interaction design has become more and more concerned about other interactions than the ones happening between a single user and a digital device. As professor Irene McAra-McWilliam notes: "interaction design used to be primarily about the aesthetics of the interactive experience - how it makes the user feel - whereas now it is increasingly concerned with the social and political implications of new technologies". One can ask if interaction design is tied only to situations where digital devices are involved. Could, for example, the design of party games and social events be seen as interaction design?

Interaction designers strive to create useful and usable products and services. Following the fundamental tenets of user-centered design, the practice of interaction design is grounded in an understanding of real users-their goals, tasks, experiences, needs, and wants. Approaching design from a user-centered perspective, while endeavoring to balance users' needs with business goals and technological capabilities, interaction designers provide solutions to complex design challenges, and define new and evolving interactive products and services.The success of products in the marketplace depends on the design of high-quality, engaging interactive experiences. Good interaction design.effectively communicates a system's interactivity and functionality .defines behaviors that communicate a system's responses to user interactions .reveals both simple and complex workflows .informs users about system state changes .prevents user error by using techniques such as behavior-shaping constraints

While interaction designers often work closely with specialists in visual design, information architecture, industrial design, user research, or usability, and may even provide some of these services themselves, their primary focus is on defining interactions.

The discipline of interaction design produces products and services that satisfy specific user needs, business goals, and technical constraints. Interaction designers advance their discipline by exploring innovative design paradigms and technological opportunities. As the capabilities of interactive devices evolve and their complexity increases, practitioners of the discipline of interaction design will play an increasingly important role in ensuring that technology serves people's needs. The recent proliferation of technologies used in communication and interaction, often using the internet for connectivity, has inspired interest in social interaction design. Designers increasingly recognize that user interactions often include other users as well as a mediating technology, and that interactions can include interpersonal and social factors as well as the conventional ones described here.


Jessica Helfand

Short Bio

Jessica Helfand is partner with William Drenttel in Jessica Helfand William Drenttel, a design consultancy in New York that concentrates on editorial design and the development of new models for old and new media. Clients include Newsweek, Business Week, Lingua Franca, America. OnLine and Champion International Corporation.Helfand is also media columnist for Eye magazine and a contributing editor of I.D. Her book, Six (+2) Essays on Design and New Media was published in 1995 by William Drenttel New York. She is visiting lecturer in graphic design at Yale University School of Art and adjunct professor at New York University's graduate program in Interactive Telecommunications, and has lectured at The Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the Columbia University School of Jounalism and the Netherlands Design Institute, among others. She holds a B.A. and a M.F.A. in graphic design from Yale University

Curriculum vitae

Yale University
M.F.A. Graphic Design

Yale University
B.A. Graphic Design and Architectural Theory


Academic & Visiting Critic Appointments

Yale University School of Art.
Visiting Lecturer in Graphic Design,
Fall 1996 - Present.

New York University.
Interactive Telecommunications Program.
Assistant Adjunct Professor,
Spring 1996 - Present.

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.
Undergraduate Program in Graphic Design.
Visiting Professor,
Fall 1994.

Columbia University School of Architecture.
Visiting Critic, October 1996 and May 1997.

Yale University.
Undergraduate Program in Architecture.
Visiting Critic, April 1997.

North Carolina State University.
B.A. & M.F.A. Programs in Graphic Design.
Visiting Critic, March 1997.

Editorial Affiliations

Eye magazine.
Media Columnist, Spring 1996 - Present.

I.D. magazine.
Contributing Editor, Spring, 1994 - Present.

Print magazine.
Contributing Editor, Spring 1993 - Fall 1995.

Published Work: Books

Six (+2) Essays on Design and New Media.
New York: William Drenttel New York, 1995 and 1997.

"Paul Rand: The Modern Professor."
in Steven Heller, ed., Paul Rand: A Monograph.
London: Phaidon Ltd., 1998. (forthcoming)
License to Risk: The Square Revisited.
A History of the Square in Graphic Design and Architecture.

Published Work: Essays

"Paul Rand: American Modernist."
The New Republic, September 1997. (forthcoming)

"Cult of the Scratchy: Design for The New Millennium."
The AIGA Journal of Graphic Design, 16:1 (Spring 1998). (forthcoming)

"Sensory Montage."
Eye, 6:25 (Summer 1997). (forthcoming)

"Geometry is Never Wrong: De Stijl and Cyberspace."
Eye, 6:24 (Spring 1997) 8-9.

"I Design Therefore I Am: Avatars and the Visualization of Online Identities."
Eye, 6:23 (Winter 1996) 8-9.

"The Myth of Real Time"
Eye, 6:22 (Autumn 1996) 8-9.

"New Narrative Structures for Multimedia: The Legacy of Film."
Print, 49:5 (September/October 1995) 98-101.
Reprinted in Petracca, Michael and Madeleine Sorapure, eds. Common Culture: Reading and Writing About American Popular Culture. 2nd edition. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1998. (forthcoming)

"A Flock of Ducks: Design and The New Webbed Utopia."
Print, 49:3 (May/June 1995) 98-101.

"The Culture of Reciprocity: A New Perspective for Design Education."
Print, 49:1 (January/February 1995) 98-102.

"The Pleasure of the Text[ure]: Why Most Multimedia is Boring."
Print, 48:5 (September/October 1994) 93-101.

"Electronic Typography: The New Visual Language."
Print, 48:3 (May/June 1994) 98-101.

"Design and the Play Instinct: Morality, Mediocrity and Mischief."
Print, 48:2 (March/April 1994) 98-105.

"Future Shocks."
The AIGA Journal of Graphic Design, 12:1 (Winter 1994) 12-15.

Published Work: Reviews and Criticism

"Between the Lions: Television You Have to Read."
The AIGA Journal of Graphic Design, 15:2 (Spring 1997) 15-16.

"Review of Wired Style: Principles of English Usage in the Digital Age."
I.D., 44:2 (March/April 1997) 95.

"1997 ID 40: John Plunkett and Barbara Kuhr."
I.D., 44:1 (January/February 1997) 83.

"Ownership, Authorship, and Credit in the Digital Age."
The AIGA Journal of Graphic Design, 14:3 (Fall 1996) 4.

"Great Opportunities: Celebrating Design, English Style."
The AIGA Journal of Graphic Design, 12:3 (Winter 1995) 9-10.

"Typography for the People."
The AIGA Journal of Graphic Design, 12:2 (Winter 1994) 11.

"Hypertext: Text that Grows."
I.D., 41:5 (September/October 1994) 95.

"Reading, Writing, and RAM: How the digital revolution is changing the face of K-12 education at a New York City school."
I.D., 41:6 (November 1993) 61.

"A Designer and a Poet: A Profile of Paul Rand."
The Philadelphia Inquirer: View section (H1, 6), February 13, 1993.

"Let Us Now Praise Not-so-Famous Art Directors."
The AIGA Journal of Graphic Design, 11:3 (1993) 6-7.

Edited Publications

Helfand, Jessica, guest editor. "Design in Motion."
The AIGA Journal of Graphic Design, 16:1 (Spring 1998). (forthcoming)

Helfand, Jessica, D.K. Holland, and Chipp Kidd, editors.
Graphic Design America Two: Portfolios from the Best and Brightest Design Firms from Across the United States. New York: Rockport Publishers, 1997.

Helfand, Jessica, guest editor. "What's Next?"
The AIGA Journal of Graphic Design, 12:2 (Spring 1994).

Panel Discussions, Profiles and Interviews

Sheetz, Allan. "Interview with Jessica Helfand and William Drenttel." Mind, (Fall 1997). (forthcoming).

Allison, Nicholas. "Portfolio: Jessica Helfand."
Adobe Magazine, 8:1 (November 1996) 53-56.

Schuyler, Nina and Vivian Barad. "It's Not Just E-Male: The Top 21 Women in New Media." Working Woman, (June 1996 ) 38-43.

Hise, Phaedra. "Does Your Org @ WWW?" (roundtable discussion).
@Issue (Journal of The Corporate Design Foundation), 2:1 (Spring 1996) 26-31.

MacDonald, Nico. "Go In at the Top and Redefine the Project." (profile)Eye, 5:20 (Spring 1996) 6-7. Abrams, Janet. "Cyberspace in Manhattan." (profile)Blueprint, 128 (May 1996) 28-32. MacMillan, Sam. "Untangling the Web." (profile on Discovery Channel Online)Communication Arts, 37:7 (December 1995).

Shipside, Steve. "Special Report: American Frontiers." (profile)
Graphics International, 27 (June/July 1995) 50-51.

Beirut, Michael. "Post-Offset: A Roundtable Discussion of the Future of Print."
Rethinking Design II: The Future of Print. Published by Mohawk Paper, Spring 1995 30-35.

"The 1994 I.D. Interactive Multimedia Roundtable." (roundtable discussion).
I.D., 41:2 (March/April 1994) 37-43.

Secondary Works: Design Portfolios

Helfand, Jessica, et al. editors. Graphic Design America Two: Portfolios from the Best and Brightest Design Firms from Across the United States.New York: Rockport Publishers, 1997.Bierut, Michael, et al. editors. Graphic Design New York Two: The Work of Thirty-Six Design Firms from the City that Put Graphic Design on the Map. New York: Rockport Publishers, 1997.

Selected Lectures

"DeStijl and the Art of the Internet."New York University, Interactive Telecommunications Program. March 1997.

"Recombinant Geometries: The New Art of the Internet."
North Carolina State University.
Raleigh, March 24, 1997.(Lecture with William Drenttel).

"Visualizing Concepts: New Models for New Media."
The Netherlands Design Institute. Amsterdam, October 1996.

"Visualizing Concepts: New Models for New Media."
New York University, Interactive Telecommunications Program. September 1996.

"Zenith's Epic: An Experiment in Interactive Biography."
Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. New York, April 1996.

"Design in New Media: Defining an Editorial Model."
Columbia School of Journalism, New Media Centers. Interactive Publishing and Design Conference. New York, May 1995.(Lecture with William Drenttel).

"Designing in Time."
The American Concepts Conference.
Orlando, February 1994.

"Magazine Cover Design: A Macintosh Workshop."
Society of Publication Designers,
Electronic Design Show-and-Tell Symposium.
New York, October 1993.

"Newspapers and Magazines: Design, Form and Content."University of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, March 1992.

Design, Illustration and Photography Juries
New York Art Director's Club Competition, February 1997.High Five Student Internet Design Awards, January 1997. Society of Publication Designers Contest, 1995. I.D. Design Review Interactive Jury (Chair), 1995. Washington Society of Illustrators, 1993. American Illustration, 1993. New England Press Photographers Association, 1992. American Society of Magazine Photographers/Philadelphia, 1992.

Selected AwardsThe New York Art Directors" Club.1996 Gold Medal in New Media for Discovery Channel Online. May 1996In addition, over 75 awards in design excellence from the American Institute of Graphic Arts; Society of Newspaper Designers; Society of Publication Designers; American Institute of Graphic Arts 50 Books Show; Type Directors Club; I.D. magazine; Print and Communication Arts Regional Design Annuals; and American Illustration.

INTERVIEW by Cary Murnion

A Take from the Top: Interview by Luanne Brown.
Posted on site November 5, 1996.
When nationally-known graphic designer Jessica Helfand takes to the Web, she seldom gets excited by what she sees. But let's not dwell on the bad stuff; let's figure out how to make it better. Here's her take on what graphic designers can do to improve the quality of design on the Web
Winner of multiple awards, Jessica Helfand ( has been working on the Web since 1994 and has designed many high-profile sites, including The New York Times site ( and the Discovery Channel site ( A graduate of Yale university, Jessica is also a contributing editor for I.D. and Eye magazines and her book, Six Essays on Design and New Media, was published this year by William Drenttel New York.
First, the bad news
When Jessica goes to the Web to search for well-designed sites, she often comes up blank. She attributes the proliferation of uninspired Web sites to what she calls, "the great democratization of the Web." While almost anyone, humble or high, can have a Web page, there's no law saying it has to be well designed.
Since finding good design on the Web is a bit like looking for a pixel in the park, Jessica recommends going off-line to look for inspiration. Look to the past, look at the present, look to the future, look at art, film, and dance. Find uses of space, color, and movement that inspire you to take a chance and break a few rules.
Past, present, future
Jessica urges graphic designers to look to the Russian Constructivists movement for inspiration. You remember them: fellows like Vladimir Tatlin (1885-1953), Naum Gabo (1890-1977), and Antione Pevsner (1886-1962) who used their admiration of engineering technology to shape modern materials like plastic, steel, and glass into a new type of abstract art.

The Constructivists used tools from a traditional discipline to shape new materials. In the process, they put forth an original creative vision for others to follow, one that continues to have an enormous impact on the world of art. "They distilled things into their purist form and emerged with something of enormous substance and value," says Jessica, adding that she hopes designers will do for the Web what the Constructivists did for art.

To stimulate this process, Jessica suggests looking to film and dance as well as art. These media will give designers the opportunity to "observe the importance of sequencing information in a dynamic medium" and should give them a feeling for what they could do with their work on the Web. She especially recommends old B-grade movies (they're so bad they're good), title sequences by Saul Bass (of 007 fame), and choreographers such as Robert Wilson and Trisha Brown.

If you absolutely need to look at something designed specifically for the Web, gravitate to the bleeding edge and check out the Web work being done at various educational institutions.Jessica's personal list of favorites includes:
The Columbia School of Architecture, Digital Design Lab
The Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab ( Royal College of Art in London
"There's a very exciting 'weirdo' aspect that comes from combining education and technology," says Jessica. Something akin, perhaps, to the excitement those Russian Constructivists created when they threw engineering and art together?

Jessica insists that there's really no need to throw out the tenets of good design, but suggests that you use them as a point of departure for your thinking. Twist them around in your mind and see what you can come up with. That's what good design is all about, Jessica tells us, adding that success on the Web is all about "constantly reinventing ourselves as designers."
It's the message that matters
Jessica has strong opinions about the value of designers in this new medium. According to her, a designer's worth isn't necessarily determined by the deliverables. In fact, existing technology already allows the publisher to bypass the designer completely and go straight to the consumer. Witness the customizable Web page, where the end-user acts as designer, choosing things like color and print type.
Jessica feels that the nature of design really isn't pushing pixels around on the page -- it's having larger communication goals. That's why she doesn't think that every designer needs to learn Java. It's more important for designers to care about the message they're delivering. "What designers really bring to this party is their ability to conceptualize, identify, and market objective strategies for very strong visual identities," says Jessica.
Keep the big picture in mind
So, in the midst of all the "got to have it yesterday" mind-set so prevalent in Webland, Jessica hopes that designers will pause and think--not just about the bits and bytes, but about the social, business, and cultural implications of the work they're doing. This is what consulting is all about. "It's the great hope of our profession, to do what we can to continuously raise the level of discussion." And as the level of discussion deepens and improves, surely the quality of design work on the Web will follow.
Check out these sites
Out of the million or so sites out there, what are those few sites Jessica finds interesting, provocative, and actually useful? "I like Slate ( because they publish articles that I actually want to read. But I also love Stale (, which is a brilliant and insightful parody of Slate, and a welcome addition to a medium that is too young to take itself so seriously." Jessica also likes Joseph Squier's site (, although she knows it's an oft-cited favorite. She says, "It's beautiful, it's haunting, it's compelling and well done."

Her students pointed her to Adaweb, created by the Museum of Modern Art, "for an example of communication and behavior (which is) both subversive and artistic." Jessica comments that the site's technology discussions are particularly well handled: ( and

For intelligent thoughts on Web content, Jessica likes Jonathan Hoefler's Type Foundry ( "Jonathan is a gifted and knowledgeable type designer and historian whose work for such clients as Sports Illustrated and Rolling Stone have earned him a well-deserved reputation."

For sheer functionality, there are service-oriented sites that Jessica "depends on enormously," such as BigBook (, which is a compilation of all the Yellow Pages in the country. (See for a list of hot service-oriented sites.) She also suggests checking out the Federal Express site ( "for an example of the power of civilian surveillance on the Web."
BibliographyEncyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed., 1986. Vols. 3:576:2a,5:66:3a 9:349:1a,11:577:2a. Gabo: Constructions, Sculpture, Paintings, Drawings, Engravings, with introductory essays by Herbert Read and Leslie Martin. London: Lund Humphries, 1957. Luanne Brown writes both fiction and non-fiction for multiple media. © 1996 Microsoft Corporation


William Drenttel: Short Bio

William Drenttel was president of the American Institute of Graphic Arts from 1994-96, and as president emeritus continues in an active role as chairman of both the AIGA's Literacy Initiative. He is a trustee and a member of the executive committee of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, a Smithsonian Institution, and a board member of Academic Partners LLC.
In 1997, he joined the designer and writer Jessica Helfand to form a new design consultancy--Jessica Helfand William Drenttel--focused on editorial, identity and new media projects. They work with clients such as Netscape, Booz Allen & Hamilton, Miavita, Lingua Franca, Newsweek, Champion Paper, News International, University of Chicago Press, Yale Law School, and Teach for America.
From 1985-1996, he was a partner at Drenttel Doyle Partners in New York City. Selected clients and projects include: editorial design of numerous magazines, including Spy, The New Republic, and Inc.; strategic consulting and large design programs for companies such as Champion International, Springs Industries and Hewitt Associates; the overall graphic identity, and program and exhibition design for the World Financial Center; a new identity program and exhibition design for the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum; a new graphic identity and publications program for Princeton University; and exhibition and store design at Grand Central Station. Among its over 300 awards, Drenttel Doyle Partners was named to the I.D. 40 list of design innovators in 1994.
William Drenttel has written on design for I.D. and Communication Arts magazines and the AIGA Journal, as well as edited two anthologies of critical writings on design (Allworth Press) and three surveys of design firms in America (Rockport Press). He has lectured widely, at locations including the Library of Congress, the Pacific Design Center (Los Angeles) and San Francisco Museum of Contemporary Art. He also publishes a number of books each year under the imprint William Drenttel New York, including literary works by writers such as Paul Auster, Thomas Bernhard, Paul Celan and James Salter; and critical essays by Jessica Helfand and Leon Wieseltier. He is a graduate of Princeton University.



Website for Newsweek merges its current identity as a newsweekly with the opportunity to harnass a 24x7 continuous news feed. By splitting "Newsweek" in two, the bifurcated screen introduces "news" content on the left side while retaining "weekly" content on the right.

Champion Website

Designing a website for a paper company is a paradox Champion site is the use of the corporate logo as a navigational toolbar, with a different category assigned to each letterform: 'Company', 'Help', 'Acreage', 'Manufacturing', 'Products', 'Issues, 'Outreach' and 'News'.

how do you visualize something on-screen which by its very nature is meant to be handled? Among our design strategies for the Champion site is the use of the corporate logo as a navigational toolbar, with a different category assigned to each letterform: 'Company', 'Help', 'Acreage', 'Manufacturing', 'Products', 'Issues, 'Outreach' and 'News'

Discovery Channel Online

Launched in 1994, Discovery Channel Online was designed to evolve in complexity as the (then-new) technology grew to support it. Combining daily story postings, programming highlights, interactive games and great storytelling (a profile on Edweard Muybridge, for example) it was designed to embrace new narrative opportunities: shorter, non-scrolling text screens, hyperlinks edited for brevity and impact, and images optimized for fast downloading

Children's Televsion Workshop

These screens represent an alternative geometry that introduces a gameboard-like interface straddling the periphery of the screen. Within individual areas, features like "print and play" are designed to conform to print expectations, minimizing the frequently jarring discrepancy between on and offline user experience. A simple geometric suitcase subdivides to highlight special interest areas, with denser grids directed to older users.

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