10 easy design tips for non-designers

Design is very much an art and a science, but there are small changes that nonprofits can incorporate to make for a more appealing and cohesive design aesthetic.

  1. Use your brand colors
Use your brand colors to create cohesion.

Chances are that your organization already has a color palette that represents the work that you do. Make sure to incorporate your brand colors in your designs. This will make it easy for your audience to identify you and your work.

2. Say ‘no’ to too many colors

Select a few key colors that represent your project.

Many organizations want to use too many different colors in their designs and this creates a chaotic mess. If you want to use a different color palette than you brand colors, use a tool like COLOURlovers, Coolors or Colormind to pin down a stunning and manageable color scheme.

3. Select a typeface that matches the mood

This is a pretty fun font, but a donor booklet is probably not the right place to use it.

Fonts can be very powerful — they can set a tone and tell a story. Choosing a font that is suited for the occasion is critical. Can you imagine using the font above on a donor booklet for an organization fighting poverty? No. Think about the context when selecting a font.

4. Limit the amount of typefaces you use

Sample Google Fonts that are free to use.

Like I mentioned in the last paragraph, fonts hold a lot of power, but that doesn’t mean that we should overuse them in our designs. Using too many fonts or ones that are difficult to read will cause confusion for the audience. Google Fonts lets you easily search for font families that can be downloaded for free.

5. Don’t be afraid of white space

In this case, the white space is defined by a background image.

White space doesn’t necessarily mean space that is white, it means space that is empty, and not all empty space is bad. Take advantage of extra room to move around text and images. Not only does this make your design more visually appealing, it makes it easy to scan, read and understand.

6. You don’t have to center everything

The text here is aligned to the right, but still easy to understand.

Not all text and images need to be centered in your design. By mixing up the alignment you add an element of uniqueness. Just be sure that your alignment is consistent and doesn’t detract from your message.

7. Avoid using pure black

This charcoal grey appears to be black, but is less harsh on the eyes.

Black offers too much of a contrast and is harsh on your eyes. It simply does not feel natural. And why is this? Well, because pure black is not naturally occurring. Don’t believe me? Read more here. Try using shades of grey to accomplish what you would with black.

8. Make it easy to understand

This image incorporates appropriate fonts, plenty of white space and a clear message with a CTA.

Using all of the elements that we have already discussed, make sure that your designs are easy to understand. This includes selecting images, fonts and colors that make sense in context. This also means choosing succinct copy with a clear call to action.

9. Embrace your brand

Notice the faint logo outlines in this image?

Design is your chance to visually represent the heart and soul of your organization to the world. At Make a Mark, you will see hints of our logo on our website, in our printed materials and beyond.

Unclear on your brand? Get started here. Does your organization need a rebrand? Read more.

10. Use tools to make it happen

Sample graphics made using Picktochart.

Not sure where to start? Uncomfortable with Adobe Creative Cloud? Try using tools like Canva or Picktochart to easily create attractive graphics for your organization?

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