The 13 Best Graphic Design Tips for Non-Designers

Design influences everything you see; between printed brochures and websites and letters in the mail, examples of good (and bad) graphic design are everywhere. Strong design is also an important part of a well-rounded account based marketing strategy; even the most well-written copy would flop without design to back it up.

Whether you’ve personally ever wondered what makes good design good, or if you’re looking to add design as a skill in your marketing quiver, we’ve compiled the 13 best design tips for non-designers.

1. Hierarchy.  Proper implementation of a good (and appropriate) hierarchical system is the best way to clearly show a viewer what on the page is most important as well as where to look and in what order to read.

2. White Space.  Too often, websites are crammed with information, which makes them distracting and difficult to interact with. Good use of white space in design is key to guiding the reader down the page without overwhelming them with text.

3. Brand Guidelines.  Experimentation is always something to be encouraged, but when someone views one of your marketing pieces, they should immediately know who it was made by. If your company has brand guidelines (or a distinct style used in past pieces), make sure to follow those same rules. If no brand guideline exists, consider making one for future reference.

4. Typography.  Stay away from fonts that are too decorative or distracting. For most cases, use a maximum of two fonts—generally, one sans serif and one serif from the same (or a very similar) font family for neatness and consistency.

5. Color.  Use colors that are inherent in your brand, and try to keep your palette conservative. In other words, use colors that are appealing, easy to read, and complementary.

6. Columns.  When working with a lot of copy or images, use one or two columns to keep everything neat and organized. Again, this stylization helps users read content easily and in the right order. Similarly, working on a grid helps to keep everything in line.

7. Mobile Ready.  Whether you are designing for a desktop and then mobile—or vice versa—always be sure that the mobile version of your project is equally as functional as it is on the computer. In fact, Google’s latest update insists that your website is mobile friendly.

8. Small File Sizes.  Regarding emails in particular, a lot of inboxes will “clip” emails that are above a certain file size; plus, you don’t want your viewers to have to wait too long to download an email. That said, avoid large files like high-res images in your designs.

9. Test.  Before rolling out a project, be sure to test it on multiple co-workers (and multiple devices) to help to identify bugs and to get an overall feel for how your design is working. You may find that adjustments are necessary depending on the screen size (and how others take in the information on the page).

10. Take a Break.  With any project, it sometimes feels like you’ve hit a wall while working on it. After working on something for a few hours, we recommend walking away from your design (figuratively or literally) to ensure you’re working on it with fresh eyes.

11. Research.  If you’re unfamiliar with a project type (or where to begin on a certain design), do some research on example designs that you might like to mimic. Behance and Pinterest are great places to search for inspiration.

12. Draw.  It sometimes helps to sketch out ideas on paper before trying to implement them on a computer screen. Even if the layout changes from your hand drawn design, you can at least have an outline to go off of rather than designing blindly.

13. Icons.  We all know a picture says a thousand words. In projects where there’s a lot of text, or you just want a buffer between paragraphs, small images like icons can help to visually communicate what you’re trying to say.

Final Thoughts

Effective graphic design isn’t just pleasing to the eye, it helps establish a brand presence and increase interaction with your account based marketing efforts. Although it takes practice to learn and implement these skills, doing so will set your marketing pieces apart from others, giving your company the attention it deserves.

For more information on graphic design best practices, reach out to us today!

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