We get it! Graphic design services can become pricey for a small business. So you figure you’ll save a few bucks by asking your nephew who has a Photoshop subscription or an employee who has played with Canva to create some social media ads or posters for your business.
However, knowing how to use an app is one thing, being able to design something that makes sense and sells your business is another. Art and design is a discipline we spend years honing and that is not to be undervalued, however, there are some simple rules you can use to help unsuck your design attempts. Will you be opening your own freelance design business? Maybe not, but these could prevent you from needing to spend a lot of money for a small ad in the paper or a simple social media post.
So, with that in mind here are six ways to easily help make your design not be completely… ahhh, not useful.
With thousands of fonts, millions of colours, and an infinite way to combine them, we recommend you choose one or two fonts, and maybe two to four colours (Check out https://coolors.co/ to get some ideas of a complementary palette). If you had your brand professionally designed they’ll have been provided in a standards manual of some kind. If not, decide on these fonts and colours and stick to them.
Repetition sticks in our minds and as we become familiar with a brand, the more likely we are to pay attention and recognize it.
Not everything can be the hero. You need to choose one message and shout it from the rooftops.
Maybe it’s a beautiful photo to set the mood or maybe a large headline to get your point across, either way, you have to decide what’s the first thing your potential clients look at. For example, if you’re looking to sell shoes then you start with a beautiful photo of your shoes and include a large headline saying “Buy The Best Shoes Now!” Good start.
Now why should they buy these shoes now? Hit them with a smaller explanation line, “Stylish and well made shoes will never fall apart and always look good.”
Finally, a call to action. We want the consumer to do something: go to your website, visit your store, share to win, etc. Congrats! You have an ad that tells the story of your shoes and what you want consumers to do to get them.
Spacing & Alignment
Less is always more. Your ad, poster, or social media post doesn’t need to be jam-packed with information and images. Use space to create room for your content to breathe and have an impact. You’ll never see an ad from Apple that says, “Buy our new phone, but also don’t forget to see the great deals on all our older models, and have you heard about Apple care?” It’s one message they want the consumer to remember.
Also keep in mind alignment, if you left align your text, keep it all left aligned as a general rule. Consistency, as we said, is key. It’s also important to note that this allows a reader to quickly run through your ad with a visual anchor.
This one is simple! Use high-quality, well-shot photos. A picture of those shoes on your phone or a photo grabbed off Google means it will likely be low quality; fuzzy or blurry, and possibly under copyright. If you don’t need a specific product shot then there are lots of free stock sites like https://www.pexels.com/ or paid services like https://www.shutterstock.com/ to find high-quality images you’re allowed to use in advertising.
This is one tip many people don’t consider, but contrast is essential for accessibility as much as reaching your customers with a clear message. You don’t want your ad to be illegible. So what’s contrast? Think black text on a white background - that’s about as much contrast as you can have! Meanwhile, yellow text on a red background is about as little. You’ll also want to avoid putting words on top of busy backgrounds. Ultimately, it’s all about making sure people can see and read your materials.
Keep It Simple & Use Inspiration
You’re new, so don’t try to do anything too complicated, sometimes a large headline with a photo is all you need to be impactful. In fact, it’ll usually be more impactful than filling the ad with, well, everything. Also, don’t be afraid to look for inspiration, an easy way to do this is to browse the templates in Canva or check out websites like designspiration.com, dribbble.com, or behance.net.
With these six simple rules, your design will go from ineffective to impactful. Simple, consistent design, using quality images, following a hierarchy, and making use of space and contrast will always catch eyes.
Need some help or want us to explain this in person with examples and our fun, sarcastic personalities? We offer consulting and AMA (Ask us anything) style talks to help your business find its style.