How to Improve your Design 101 (part 1)

I know what you’re thinking.  “I am not a graphic designer; these tips don’t apply to me!” Hear me out. Having a good eye for visuals is undervalued in the advertising industry, so having one is a significant asset. When I observe people’s work (even professionals’ work), I can’t help but notice a few minor errors which drag down the powerful idea. So, tweaks can help elevate the craft significantly. My Graphic Design degree and Ian’s masterclasses, along with an extensive amount of research, all contributed to these tips that I mastered over the years. 

  1. Always apply hierarchy

The number one error I notice in other students’ work is this one. It is critical to ensure that hierarchy is applied. As a result, the poster and design are highly organised. Further, it is important to determine what you want the viewer to focus on first. The headline? Or the image? The copy? If everything in the visual is the same size, you run the risk of the visual not engaging with the viewer optimally, and ensuring where they should look first in the visual.

2. Use the right typeface

Which typeface above appears more emotive to you? This goes without saying. Using the right typeface works wonders in trying to convey a particular emotion. You need to consider your brand when creating an advertising campaign. If you want to convey a light-hearted, colloquial brand, use San Serif, or use Slab Serif for a more “strong” masculine feel.  If you wish to convey sarcasm or irony (however you perceive it), you may use Comic Sans. Typefaces have been noted to have psychological impacts, so choose them wisely. The psychology of typography can be found in this article if you want to geek out further.

3. Use a minimal colour scheme

“What… you’re joking!” No really. You really do not need too many colours for your posters or designs. In fact, it should be concise. Every colour communicates a message without using too many words. You can learn more about the psychology of colour here. In addition, I usually use 2 or 3 colours in my poster, or at most 4 so it is aesthetically pleasing and communicates the message more clearly. Any more colours will look cluttered. It is imperative to select a colour palette that compliments both the message and the SMP you are trying to convey. I recommend this colour palette generator (you can also enter the colour code of your choice and find the complementary colour for that). Here is also an in-depth article about colour theory from Adobe, as  I highly recommend giving this a read. 

 4. Add contrast

Adding contrast is what people say makes one’s work look “striking”. Contrast is when two different elements are added that appear to be opposites. Contrast can be applied in any way. For example, using contrasting colours, pairing text with an image, or using thick and thin shapes. It can create “conflicting errors” when you are trying to convey a particular message, but in a positive way. When applied correctly, contrast strengthens your communication. Contrast is like salt; it’s tasty in moderation, but too much can be rancid, so it’s important to strike a balance.

And these are the tips! I hope by the end of this article, you should be able to make well-informed craft decisions for your next project, which will in result make your work stand out. Do make sure to use these tips to your advantage and take your work to the next level.

If you find this blog post useful, tweet me or let me know! I am working on part two shortly.

All the best


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