6 design tips for non-designers

In Graphic Design by Jodi Parker

It’s becoming increasingly common in the workplace for people who aren’t designers to be assigned design-related activities. For those of you who have found yourself in this role more than once, here are a few tips to help you navigate the world of graphic design.

1.  Limit your typefaces

Having an unlimited number of fonts at your fingertips doesn’t mean you should use them all. Limit the number of fonts in any document to two, and if you choose to use two fonts, they should always compliment each other. You can pair fonts that vary in width, thickness and style, but remember the more personality one font has the more generic the other font should be. Pairing serif and sans serif fonts is generally a popular option.

2.  More white space

Whitespace is a fundamental building block of good design. It’s one of the first things any visual designer is taught. Create a fluid design by surrounding words with white space to let elements breathe. By creating space around text boxes, images and other graphic elements, you’re making your design easier to read. It’s also more likely to attract attention than something too cluttered.

3.  Get rid of the clutter

A clean design is one in which the user’s eye is clearly guided around the page. They can read the page easily and aren’t distracted by less important page elements. Too often we see numerous logos, photos and text boxes scattered randomly around the page. If it isn’t necessary, don’t clutter your page with it. Follow sample grids to help determine where certain elements might fit best in your design.

4.  Using color

Creating a color scheme is essential to good design. Try to pick two colors that compliment each other and also contrast well. Play around with tones of the same color to add depth to the design. Sometimes using one color can have more of an impact than you realize. Also consider the subject matter and audience when choosing color.

5.  Using images and other visuals

Make sure you’re using high quality photos, logos or other visual elements. Avoid images that aren’t high resolution, have watermarks or are blurry. Images pulled from the internet are NOT good quality images. Make sure the visuals fit the content matter and are used when appropriate. Overuse of visual elements can quickly clutter a design.

6.  Start an inspiration folder

Designers are known for “stealing” designs.  If you run across something that you find visually pleasing, whether it’s a certain color palette, font combination or interesting layout, save it for a later date. It’s a great idea to keep an inspiration folder to refer to when you’re in a rut or want to try something new.