Essential expert design tips that are sure to impress.
Design is all around us, every day. But, it is great design that captures attention and gets noticed. From creating your own marketing materials and social media content to preparing corporate documents and business presentations, you want to be noticed for all the right reasons and, in this case, looks matter.
Hey there good looking.
Good graphic design is an easy way to make a positive first impression with a slick, professional look. Using timeless and consistent design elements means that you can present information clearly, look the part, and become instantly recognisable, without losing or bamboozling your audience.
Mastering design takes time, and we can’t promise to turn you into a graphic designer overnight, but there are some simple changes you can make instantly to achieve a flawless and functional aesthetic for your brand. Take a look here.
1. Make it look font-astic
Limit your typefaces, and don’t get carried away with using lots of different fonts. Instead, select one or two fonts, three at the very maximum, deciding which font will be used for the header text and which will be used for the body copy. Opting for a font ‘family’ helps to take the headache out of matching and pairing different fonts, with basic, black, narrow, and bold variations of the same font to choose from.
Gaining control over your fonts eliminates the need to trial different combinations to find out what works and what doesn’t, and adds consistency throughout a single document or a series of projects.
Not sure of what looks good together? Have a look at some sites like www.typespiration.com and www.fonts.google.com for some inspiration and awesome font pairings.
2. Get colour clever
Close your eyes for a moment and picture a colour. Now, think about how that colour makes you feel. Colours are emotive and often have strong associations to experiences, in fact ‘colour theory’ highlights the connection colours have with human behaviour.
Because a colour can communicate so much through its hue, start with a great colour palette. Try sticking to a colour scheme of one to three primary colours, and one to three secondary colours, to achieve a contrasting, complementary, and consistent palette. Try using a colour wheel or online tools to help you decide the perfect palette for you. Pick colours that work with the intended aim or message of your design, and avoid veering too far away from the mainstream to prevent confusing your audience.
For some great colour palette examples, take a look at www.color.adobe.com/explore
3. Keep it simple
People rarely complain when something is easy to understand. Cut out the confusion, and keep things simple to make your piece as effective as possible.
A busy design featuring a cacophony of images, fonts, colours, and effects can feel like an assault on the eyes, with too much to process all at once. Make your designs feel less visually overwhelming by sticking to minimalist principles. Ensure each design element has a reason for being, keep fonts, colours, and shapes to a minimum, and use sharp tonal contrasts to improve readability. Every work of art deserves a frame, and framing your design provides structure, enhancing the presentation of any written copy in your work.
4. One good kern deserves another
Kerning, the art of spacing characters so that any writing is legible and that elements on your page are organised and aligned professionally. Good kerning also prevents the unfortunate misplacement of letters further preventing any unintentional, yet sometimes embarrassing, typographical mistakes or visuals.
QUICK TIP: Use grid lines to monitor uneven or untidy spacing.
5. ‘I’ve got a blank space baby, and I’ll create a design’
Leave some room for some white space in your design. Reduce clutter, and make the main focus of your design standout by leaving the surrounding area empty. Taking a minimalist approach is a common technique used by top designers, and you’re most likely to spot white space in designs for high-end, luxury tech advertisements, for example. Think like the experts and ditch the distractions.
6. Get all moody on us
Get creative, gathering and saving design elements, swatches of colours and samples of font combinations that you like and admire, and add them to a grid to create a mood board for your project. Swapping different elements and testing them alongside each other will help you to achieve the look you’ve been searching for.
7. It’s the way that you say it
A typeface is group of fonts that share similar features, and the different designs and styles of each typeface can say a lot about your brand or message. Think about what a font ‘says’ to you. ‘Comic sans’ gets a hard time and generates lots of strong opinions in the design community, but it’s the go-to font for schools and teachers because of its soft, childlike appearance. If you’re aiming for a modern look, opt for a geometric sans serif typeface. If you’re looking for sophisticated luxury, try the script-like flourish of a serif based typeface.
QUICK TIP: Remember the golden rule. Don’t get carried away. 2-3 well-matched fonts and no more.
8. Use text hierarchy
It makes sense that the most important part of your message should be the most visually dominant aspect of your design.
Determine the hierarchy of your piece, by noticing which elements stands out first. Play around with the scale, the colour, and font until your key message shouts from the page.
9. Curb your creative enthusiasm with a grid
A design grid is like a set a of guidelines, allowing you to unleash your creativity but within defined limits. A grid brings order to your ideas, aligning elements and creating spacing so that your finished design looks professional, clean, and clear.
Grids are made up of columns, to help designers from the amateur to the expert arrange text, images, and other elements to achieve a neat and effective outcome. Experiment with different numbers of columns, to find what works for you and your design.
10. It’s not for you, it’s for them
When you’re creating a design, it’s more than likely you’re making it for the benefit of someone else. Design for your audience, and not for yourself. You’ll no doubt develop a preference for certain colour palettes and fonts, but don’t be tempted to use them for every design. Ensure your choices reflect the intended audience so that they react positively, helping them to make sense of what they are seeing. A bride might not be too impressed with a wedding invitation designed with bright primary colours and a bold sans serif font, but pastel shades and soft, cartoonish text would be ideal for a nursery school brochure.
So, the next time you’re putting together a design project, give these tips a try. Whether you use one or give all ten a go, you’ll improve your work and be left with a professional looking finish that’s sure to impress and get noticed.