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.
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 ColourLovers, Coolors or Adobe Color will give you access to heaps of colour palettes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You can put lines as “separators” between various elements in your design to separate them from the other elements, making them feel more important.
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.
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.
When your paragraph width is either very short or excessively long, it can be difficult to read.
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.
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.
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.
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