When creating designs for print or web, you don’t need a degree in graphic design. You just need to wrap your head around some of the best graphic design practices. In a blog post for online design tool Canva, graphic designer Poppie Pack has outlined some useful design tips for non-designers.
Some words of wisdom she imparts include not being afraid of scale, being clever with your colours, and playing with symmetry. I’ve summarized the top 7 useful graphic design tips, but for the full 25, click here.
Tips for non-designers
Contrast is key
Whether it’s type, layering or colour combinations, ensuring these elements contrast is key to creating striking designs. As one of the most imperative parts of design, contrast creates mood, legibility and makes your designs stand out. Try not to use too many colours in your designs; pick only 2-3 colours to work with. Try a contrasting colour palette background, fonts and graphics. Or use photo filters to enhance the positive and negative space in an image. Black or white copy creates optimum contrast against a background image. A good rule of thumb is if you have a light coloured background then you should use a dark font (and vice versa).
If a layout looks cluttered or busy, it’s very likely a lack of white space. The trick is to start leaving more space around elements than you’re normally comfortable with. Create a fluid design by surrounding words with white space to let elements breathe. It also makes a design easier to read. Keep in mind that whitespace is not empty space. It’s a graphical tool.
Limit your typefaces
Properly choosing the right fonts and combine them for your design is hard. However, when selecting a typeface for headings, you have a bit more freedom of choice; headings are generally short and easier to read. But when it comes to subtitles and body text, use easy-to-read fonts for simple and effective graphic design. A general rule is to use no more that 3 distinctly different typefaces. The eye finds it hard to scan multiple typefaces, yet can pick up when to fonts are nearly identical.
Create order with alignment
Consistency is often the name of the game when striving to achieve professionalism and sophistication. Using a consistent alignment and spacing between your elements will create order and balance.
Use hierarchy to order your content
The most visually dominant feature in a design should be the most important part of the message. You can achieve this with sizing, colour, layout, or a combination of the three. This is why headlines are big, bold, and attention-grabbing and your body copy is a smaller complement of your headlines.
The simpler, the better
As soon as you realize that a little goes a long way, the better off you’ll be. Keep it simple, but don’t forget your basics. Make sure every element has a reason to be in the design; keep the number of fonts, colours, shapes and frames to a minimum. Think of what Apple has been able to create with a simple, clean, and sleek approach to their design.
Take a break
Relax your eyes every now and then. Anyone can have a creative block where they’re not sure what to do next. Sometimes it’s best to step away before you go too far. Recharge your creative batteries by taking a break. Take a walk, grab a bit to eat, sit in the park to refresh the brain and revitalize the vision. When you come back, you can look at your work with fresh new eyes.
Graphic designers, do you agree with her advice? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on social media.