15 Design Tips to Make You Look Like a Pro – Brought to you by Andy K Graphic Artist


I have a confession to make. I don’t have a degree in marketing or graphic design. In fact, I didn’t even finish high school, but before you run away screaming “she’s a fraud”, I should clarify that I left high school early to do an apprenticeship as a compositor with a well-known farming newspaper. Carry on reading to hear my 15 Design Tips to Make You Look Like a Pro.

So what does this mean for you? I have seen design trends come and go, and viewed all kinds of marketing tricks, but at the end of the day, there are a few graphic design staples that will stand the test of time.The last 30 something years working at newspapers, magazines, printers, internet providers and advertising agencies has seen me brand, advertise and promote everything from farm machinery to adult products, entertainers to politicians, gardeners to fashion designers and everything in between.
Start with a great colour palette

Ever notice that the best designs tend to have a beautiful collection of colours that just seem to work well together? That’s no accident. Using a site like ColourLoversCoolors or Adobe Color will give you access to heaps of colour palettes.

Don’t get carried away with fonts

When you first discover a great front provider (like DaFont), it’s easy to get a little carried away. But you really want to limit yourself to 1 or 2 fonts. Try sticking using the font variants (bold, italic, outline) to retain consistency. If you’re going to use multiple fonts, use the fancy one for the header and another plain one for the body.

Have an inspiration file

When you see something you like, save it. Provided you don’t do an exact copy, there’s no shame in borrowing a little design brilliance. Websites like Dribble and Behance are great sources of inspiration.

Leave a little space

Often designs get so cluttered and busy that you can’t focus on what the message is. Don’t be afraid to leave blank, white space in your design. Sometimes, as they say, less really is more.

Align your objects

Proper alignment and equal spacing between elements is the easiest way to give your design the sophisticated and professional look. Try breaking your design into thirds, drawing guides vertically and horizontally to use to align objects to. You might be amazed at the result.

Use icons to support your message

Icons (from somewhere like Flat Icon) are like black pepper, you can sprinkle a little on top to add some extra spice to whatever you’re cooking up. But remember, too much and you’ll spoil the dish.

Follow your own design rules

Set yourself a style guide and stick to it. This should include fonts, colours and an image mood board. After a while, people will get to know your style and recognise your designs before they see the logo.

Rinse and Repeat

Are you doing multiple campaigns across Instagram, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter? Use the same design, just alter the dimensions to suit the format. Then repeat the same design with a different image and message next week.

Use a simple line to emphasise

You can put lines as “separators” between various elements in your design to separate them from the other elements, making them feel more important.

Start with a plan

This is about the point where most non-designers think about the plan. The planning stage doesn’t need to be long. In fact, it can just be a minute or two. But if you know what you want to accomplish before you start designing, you’ll get things done much quicker.

Add text over images by adjusting the image brightness 

When your design includes text over images, try adjusting the brightness level of the image or add a semi-transparent colour overlay. This way the background image will offset the colour of the text, allowing the text to be easily readable.

Carefully structure your body copy

When your paragraph width is either very short or excessively long, it can be difficult to read.

Who are you designing for?

No, it’s not you. Never forget “who” your target audience is. This ensures you create something that they actually want to see and something they’ll react favourably to.

When form follows function

By making sure you know the function of your design, you’ll be able to more easily come to a form that works and have a better sense of what belongs in the design and what doesn’t. A splash page, for example, that’s designed to only collect emails in the run-up to a launch probably doesn’t need a carousel with images.

Keep it Simple

We’ve all seen the movie that’s all special effects and no story. It’s the same if you overdo your design with too many special effects like shadows and tint gradients, you’ll quickly move toward a bloated and aesthetically muted message. You can still use some design “special effects”. But sprinkle them by the handful onto your design, as you might with a bit of balsamic vinegar on your salad.

As you can see, it doesn’t need to be difficult. You just need to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, and what works well for your business.

You can view AndyK Designs in the WBA Member Directory



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