It pains me to say it. Why? Well, because it’s so incredibly unhelpful. But it’s true.
I wish there were hard and fast answers that applied to every single design question you’ll encounter. Instead, we have general rules. Isn’t that frustrating?
It turns out, design isn’t completely a science or an art. It’s a little bit of both. And the right solution to any design problem can only be arrived at by asking great questions.
In the end, you have to develop your eyes so they can see what looks right, and that can only happen through trial and error. (Lots of error).
To shortcut that process, you can stick to the general rules. Let’s go over them here, because no matter what you’re putting together for your business, these principles will serve you well.
When you’ve absorbed them (no Depends pun intended), you’ll be able to make design decisions naturally without having to review the rules or agonize over your choices.
- Know who you’re communicating with, first and foremost. What you know about your target market — the people you want to reach with your product or service — should be the guiding light to all your marketing efforts. It’s not about creating marketing materials that appeal to you. It’s about communicating with them in a way they’ll understand and respond to.
- To make a quick visual impact, choose two main colors. Just take a look at the Depends package in the photo. See how they’re using two main colors? You can do this, too. Find two colors that represent your business. Use them together in every single marketing piece you produce. Over time, these colors will become identified with your brand.
- Choose and use no more than two typefaces. Find two typefaces that are readable, reflect your brand image, and look good where you want to use them, whether in print, on the web, or both. Use them consistently — just like your colors — in everything you do.
- Inject ample white space. White space is a great way to set off your information. Use it around your content, surround important headlines or calls to action with it, and don’t be afraid of the blank page.
- Be consistent. Be consistent. Be consistent. Get time on your side by implementing your marketing efforts consistently day in and day out.
The key to getting better at making design decisions is remembering and using these general rules. Over time, you’ll begin to train your eyes to see what works.
- You’ll know when colors are working well together.
- You’ll see what typefaces blend well (but not too well).
- You’ll “feel” when there’s enough white space.
- You’ll see the visual hierarchy.
You’ll. Just. Know.
You won’t need to think about the rules. You’ll be able to apply what you know naturally, without overthinking things. You’ll even know enough to break the rules on occasion to get the effect you want.
That’s something to look forward to, isn’t it?
Let’s talk about it in the comments.