In graphic design there seem to be thousands of rules on how to apply colors, fonts of layouts. Such rules may seem difficult to master but the reality is that successful design can be stripped down to several basic principles. If you learn and respect them you will become great at visual communication even if you are not a professional graphic design.
1. Respect Readability
Sometimes we get so caught up in design that we end up thinking too much about how our design looks and too little about how well it reads. Fonts end up being too small, contrast between text and background too low or there are too many capital letters that make you think as if you are being yelled at. Always have in mind that the primary purpose of design is communication, so treat your type with respect and make readability your absolute priority.
2. Create An Order
If there is no order in the way you arrange your text, viewers will not know where to look first and where to start reading. Greater size indicates greater importance, so use that logic when arranging your visual elements. Decide what’s the most important element of your design and emphasize its color, size or weight. Even just the smallest adjustments will make information easier to digest and understand.
3. Choose Correct Alignments
Four basic types of text alignment are left, right, center and justify. Left align type is most legible and therefore used most frequently. Right align type, mostly used for decorative purposes, isn’t recommended for large pieces of text cause it can be hard for the eye to follow new lines. The same goes for centered text that, when used in moderation, can help you balance different fonts and create nice arrangement. Justify may look like a perfect option, but it can have issues with spacing of letters and words, as you can see in the example below.
4. Limit The Number Of Fonts
The main purpose of fonts is to make you stand out, grab the attention of viewers and encourage them to read. But fonts just like colors express personality of your brand and can provoke different emotions. When looking for the ones that are right for your business remember that too many different font styles may look amateurish and confusing. Limit yourself to 2-3 fonts for a look that is professional, clean and organized.
5. Be Careful With Display Fonts
Display fonts are elaborate, flashy and optimized for text that will appear in very large point sizes. Basically, they were designed to look good but not necessarily to read well. That’s why you should never use them for larger pieces of text (body copy), but rather for short titles or smaller areas of text.
6. Think About Content
Different combinations of fonts and colors can give your design a very different mood: elegant, modern, retro or serious. It’s therefore very important that you match those moods with the content of your message and the audience you are trying to reach. Otherwise, you will create a visual disconnect that will be very confusing to your viewer. Take a look at the example below. Post on the left shows a sophisticated, black and white invitation for a baby shower that is too formal and strict for such a relaxing and casual event. The example on the right, however, is more eye-catching as it suits the occasion and communicates the right atmosphere.
7. Apply Logic When Choosing Colors
Colors affect our mood, emotions, behavior and way in which we interpret content that surrounds us. Such interpretation can depend on personality characteristics, past experiences or context in which the color is being used. However, there are few generalized emotional responses associated with each color and although mixing things up can sometimes pay off you need to think twice before you experiment with color. Here are two simple examples for two different businesses, one for a flower shop and the other for a financial institution. Example on the left shows color schemes that do not reflect the true nature of those businesses, while the example on the right matches the message and is more appropriate to our perception of both industries.
In the end make sure you always, always check your design for any spelling or grammar errors. This step is very important and it should not be ignored as it can make you look sloppy, unprofessional and create more distractions in your content.