Updated April 13, 2021
With the power of visual content (it’s easier to remember and more interesting than text-based content), many marketers have turned to DIY graphic design software.
With traditional text-focused people taking on more design duties, it’s time for a brief or refreshing introduction to the fundamentals of graphic design.
I show you how strategic use of white space, typography, and color can dramatically improve the effectiveness and aesthetics of visual assets. your . Try these three graphic design tips to keep your blog, social media, and other visuals on track.
Table of Contents
White Space 101: Use a lot
The telltale sign of an amateur designer is the lack (or abuse) of white space. White space (also known as negative space) refers to the unmarked spaces around or between visual elements in a design.
Apple’s use of white space for the original HomePod page was extreme but effective. The complete emptiness of the design forces the viewer to focus on the product, the product is presented as a work of art.
In contrast, non-designers often itch to fill every inch of space with text, images, or other design elements, not letting their eyes rest.
This is one of the top graphic design tips – take the less approach. Remove elements that don’t add value to your design. This gives more breathing space to the core elements.
Remove elements that don’t add value to your design, @Mnediger said via @CMIContent. #DesignTips Click to Tweet Use wider margins around the edges of the design and expand the space between unrelated elements to clarify page structure.
Leaving space unmarked in a design can instantly improve its visual appeal and communicability.
Always ask before you complete a design: Is there anything I can remove to improve this design?
Typeface 101: Balancing readability with style
Typography refers to the technique of positioning and styling, but true typography enthusiasts consider design with typography to be both a science and an art.
A lot of technical knowledge is required to master type design, including:
- Anatomy of letters
- Rules to Check, Follow, and Lead
- Typeface classification.
Can’t expect amateur marketers and designers to learn all these details. Here’s one of the most important graphic design tips for beginners when it comes to typography: Balance readability with style.
# GraphicDesign tip #2 for non-designers: Balance readability with style to elevate your #typography game, @Mnediger via @CMIContent says. Click to Tweet Each font offers something worth talking about in terms of readability and style. Usually, the more stylized the font, the harder it is to read.
Since the primary purpose of type is to convey information, caution should be exercised when using highly stylized, difficult-to-read fonts.
However, that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. An easy way to strike a balance between readability and style is to use a stylized font for large headline text and a traditional, minimal font for body text.
The combination allows you to inject your brand flair or taste into the graphic without forgetting the purpose of the graphic: communication.
Oh, and don’t overuse fonts either. Stick with a maximum of two to three fonts per graphic. Add that, and you’ll have a hard time creating a cohesive design.
Any professional designer will tell you there’s more to the font selection process than balancing style with readability, but this simple rule of thumb should serve as a starting point. Great entry into the complex world of typography.
Color 101: Use Contrast to Focus Attention
Color is hard to get right. Even some full-time designers have difficulty using color effectively in their designs.
At the same time, because color is innately associated with emotions, color choice has a tremendous influence on the viewer’s perception of a design.
How do you have great color choices? Try these tips and tricks for using color in your images.
Use simple, high-contrast color schemes to focus attention on design elements. Use contrast to add visual appeal and, more importantly, direct the viewer’s eye to important information like keywords, icons, or data points.
What is high contrast dithering?
High-contrast schemes use colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. Traditionally, these programs have been referred to as complementary and decoupled additions.
Complementary color schemes have two colors with the highest possible contrast. Check out how FinancesOnline used a variation on a separate complementary color scheme for images in its digital marketing stats post:
Bright, bold “200% ” Jump out. The index catches the eye because it has a warmer, more saturated color.
This was a strategic decision by a smart designer who knows research shows that humans respond to warm, saturated colors, while cool, unsaturated colors recede into the background.
When choose color for your next project, remember that strategically used high-contrast color schemes make a visual impact and highlight the most important information.
Use a high-contrast palette to visually impact and highlight important information, said @MNediger via @CMIContent. Click to Tweet I don’t recommend creating a color scheme from scratch – even seasoned designers struggle with this daunting task.
Use a free app like Color hunt to find inspiration. It gives you access to user-generated palettes from designers around the world, and its “popular” filter is great for getting an idea of which palettes work well.
If you start thinking like a designer, you can create better graphics to do your job more efficiently.
Keep these three graphic design tips in mind to take your visual content to the next level:
- Space: Use unmarked areas of the page to balance out your design for a polished and professional look.
- Font: Use stylized title fonts and readable body fonts to strike the right balance between personality and clarity.
- Color: Use a high-contrast color palette to draw attention to key information.
Ready to create some DIY visual content? Let me know in the comments section.
Please Note: All tools included in our blog posts are recommended by the author, not the CMI editorial team. No single post can provide all the relevant tools in the space. Please include additional tools (from your company or those you already use) in the comments.
Cover photo by Joseph Kalinowski / Content Marketing Institute