The design process is simply an extension of the organizing process that began as you developed the concept for your subject.
To the extent that you can define your project's purpose and can prioritize the different parts of your message, you can create effective, good-looking print communications.
If, however, you're unclear about the purpose and undecided about the sequence and relative importance of the information you want to communicate, you're in dangerous waters. You're forced to operate subjectively rather than objectively.
Let's say you're designing a layout for a newsletter article that includes a series of photographs. Without you've thought through the role of the photographs in the article, you will not know how to position them. You'll be forced to be strictly subjective. "I think this photograph looks good here," etc. But if you know how they relate to the story and each other, you can easily decide on the proper order and size for them.
In a sense, desktop publishing and the tools of graphic design are an extension of your communication skills. They make it easier for you to give visual organization and emphasis to your message.
However, they can not compensate for a lack of initial planning or organization, which is why the success of your project hinges on this initial stage.
Before starting a project, ask yourself these question:
* Who is the intended audience?
* What is the basic message you're trying to communicate?
* In what format will readers encounter your message?
* What similar messages have your readers encountered from other sources or competitors?
* How does this publication relate to your other publications?
The more you define your project's purpose and environment, the stronger your design will be.