Even as a non-designer, you probably know that visual content has penetrated practically all means of audio-visual communication today. You’ll find infographics on Instagram stories, banners on Facebook, and a million more ways graphic design is utilized on websites and social media platforms.
It’s no secret that visual content is a very powerful communication tool. Copious studies have shown that colorful images and videos stimulate our brains. It is then obvious why graphic design plays such an important role in marketing.
As more and more people begin to use infographics and animated videos to catch attention, it’s time for us marketers to learn or get a refresher course on the basics of graphic design.
What are the three basic tenets of graphic design?
Although it may seem super easy at first glance, graphic design is something that is very easy to mess up if you don’t understand the basics. It’s not about how to airbrush or type something on a blank canvas. Graphic design involves strategic and intricate use of space, typography, and colour. Making a mistake in either of these basics can seriously take away from your visual content.
1. Space and Elements
Non-designers tend to fill every inch of space with text, images, or other elements, usually resulting in an overly saturated design that is not easy on the eyes. This is called over designing.
A shortage of negative space or white space is usually a telling sign of a non-designer’s involvement. The negative space is the unmarked space between the different design elements. Leaving some or even a lot of it is usually a good thing.
This can also be achieved by creating significant space between the elements, helping the viewer understand the page structure. As a non-designer, instead of asking if there is anything to add to the design, ask if there is anything that you can remove to improve the visual appeal.
Here’s an example of a beautiful and elegant use of negative space.
2. Typography and Readability
Typography relates to the art and technique of arranging type, in other words – letters. The process is considered both an art and a science as it involves typefaces, point sizes, line lengths, letter spacing, and so much more.
While it isn’t expected of marketers to learn the whole process of typography, marketers, as non-designers, should understand that even if a font looks cool and funky, it might not be readable.
If your audience is struggling to understand the text in your visual content, you are likely to lose that audience. Typically, the more stylized the font is, the harder it is to read. Now, we’re not saying that all text should be boring and monotone. We are saying that it’s best to use stylized fonts for larger text, such as headers and traditional easy-to-read fonts for the body of text.
This method also allows you to share a taste of your brand with your audience through a funky yet sensible combination of two fonts.
Important note: Overdoing it with fonts is also a thing, so make sure not to use more than two or three fonts per design.
Here’s an example of clear and stylish use of typography:
3. Colour and Contrast
Colour is probably one of the hardest things to get right in design – probably because it’s somewhat subjective. Colours are intertwined with emotions; therefore, how the audience perceives the chosen colours is highly influenced by their emotions. Often, even professional designers struggle with this.
It’s hard to teach someone what colours they ought to use, but there are some basics that can guide non-designers towards making better colour choices.
For instance, simple high contrast colour designs are used to capture the attention and drive focus to the elements of the design. You can also use contrast to direct the viewer’s attention to important information.
Bright and bold colours for data like numbers or percentages are eye-catching and useful. Here’s an example:
To sum up
In graphic design, it seems that less is always more. It is important to understand the basics of graphic design to create beautiful and engaging content on your website or social media platforms.