5 Key Components of Good Graphic Design
Not all printed marketing material is created equally!
Good graphic design increases readability, communicates quickly and convincingly, and draws the reader’s eye to key information within the message. Yet, while there are psychological principles and design techniques available to help even lay-people produce effective designs, many businesses continue to use printed material that fails to catch the consumer’s attention.
As a valuable marketing tool, printed material relies heavily on human psychology — that is, the way people think — particularly when it comes to the consumer’s ‘purchase or not’ decision-making process. The goal of advertising design graphics is to connect with and engage the targeted audience to read and to also react to the marketing presentation. Studies have found that certain color choices, shapes, text styles and images within a message can all contribute to the success or failure of printed material.
Aside from looking to current graphic design trends and creating a coherent message, designers use many basic visual concepts when laying out patterns for printed material. We have chosen five key components of good graphic design that will help business owners and project leaders work effectively with designers and printers during their next advertising campaigns and event promotions.
White space (or negative space) is often overlooked but is essential to creating clean, crisp communications. White space is defined as the ‘blank or unpatterned space left in between different elements of your design.’
Passive white space occurs naturally between words and text lines, but active white space is intentionally included to direct the readers to the most important parts of the message. The inclusion of white space, whatever its actual color, can take a crowded mix of text and graphics and make it readable, understandable, and energetic.
When used effectively, contrast will redefine a monotonous graphical layout by creating a structured emphasis on key features using size, shape, and color differentiations. Incorporating contrast will add impact to your message and increase its readability by creating a clear relationship between different regions on the page. By including elements that are big and small, thick and thin, bold and subdued, fast and slow you can successfully use the psychology of contrast to draw attention to the most important information for the reader.
Any good advertising communication will use repetition or repeating elements to add unity to the layout and to reinforce certain information. Repeated elements might include colors, line styles, fonts, spatial relationships, or images. A good designer will know when to keep items consistent and when to add variety.
Alignment can be understood in its simplest form as the placement of elements within the advertising layout. Alignment principles follow from the manner in which a person reads or scans printed material, ensuring that the most important information can be gleaned quickly and reliably.
Graphic designers often create a number of invisible lines or a grid system in which to align groups of information. This method avoids chaos on the page and will add balance and appeal to the entire message. Poor alignment is generally unattractive, will give the message a disorganized feel, and will make the reader work hard to find a ‘visual logic.’
Composition is the manner in which a graphic designer chooses to tell the client’s story. Good composition is not only visually appealing but also gives the material a professional polish. Composition involves the proper visual arrangement of all graphical and textual elements, the use of colors and styles, and the incorporation of the above-mentioned design layout components. The end result of a good design layout is, quite simply, that your materials hit their mark.
Design Mistakes to Avoid in Printed Material
Using Words When an Image Will Do
Also known as wordiness. This will turn off your audience faster than any other design mistake. When a design incorporates too many words, it slows down the reader and diminishes his or her interest.
Avoid aligning everything to the center or scattering elements about without any patterns to their alignment. Left and right-justified text arrangements are neater and easier to read than center-aligned text.
Research suggests keeping sentences between 45–75 characters to increase readability and reduce eye fatigue.
Font and Color Diversity Overkill
While contrast is important, too much color or too many different text styles can be overwhelming for the reader. Only use 2–4 different colors and stick to a single font with no more than a few different sizes to add interest and to place emphasis on important information.
Poor letter spacing or “kerning” can reduce the amount of white space and can leave a project looking messy. More space between letters can add a sense of luxury to the text, and a natural amount of spacing will add a sense of balance and calm to the message.
Using best practices for both design elements and composition is especially important for printed material that your reader is holding in their hands, where they have time to notice minor imperfections. The intended audience will judge your print advertisement based on its professionalism, its value to them, and the impact of the message. There are many corporate examples that directly attribute smart print advertising graphics to the success of a sales campaign or new product launch.
At Electro Image LCC, we offer affordable print ad design by skilled and creative in-house graphic designers. Our extensive experience in conveying the right message combined with the perfect graphical and textual elements will both connect with and engage your audience in the consumer decision-making process.
Originally published at electroimagellc.com on July 18, 2017.