By: Johana M. Caba, M.A.
Graphic design can be a scary term for a lot of people. We all know graphic design is a part of just about anything from the posters we see to the magazines we read. It is used to convey ideas and concepts, and to enhance interactive experiences. Everything from the font we select to the color palette we want has to be conducive of the ideas and concepts we are trying to convey, and the emotions we are trying to evoke. This is particularly crucial for small businesses that do not always have the budget to hire experienced graphic designers. In this post, I will go over some of the basics of graphic design to give small business owners an insight into the things that they should be looking for when presented with designs for their marketing materials.
Two of the basic principles of graphic design are typography and color. We will not go into the inner depths of these concepts, but we will do a quick review. Typography is simply the use of different fonts to convey your purpose. Different font styles guide the audience in different directions. Using too many fonts can make things harder for them to read because it is not visually appealing. When pairing fonts, a good rule of thumb is to make sure that the two to three fonts that you are using have enough contrast between them. This allows viewers to distinguish the fonts and helps in making things more visually appealing. Having enough white space between fonts, lines and characters is also important in order to make things feel less cramped and more calm for the audience to process.
When it comes to color, we want to make sure that there is harmony between the color palette we select. Depending on the design and purpose, we might want to go with vibrant colors or cool tones. For example, complementary colors are opposite of each other on the color wheel and demand attention which attracts the audience. Colors evoke emotions and even bring up old memories. This is why it is very important for your images to have a unified color palette that ties everything together with a visually appealing design.
The layout of a design is another important component of graphic design. Layouts help us organize our elements and create our focal point. It is very important to have a focal point in your designs to make things clear for the audience. In order to tell a story with the design or guide people to your call-to-action, you need a focal point. An effective layout will organize the elements in a compelling way. It is also effective to have a hierarchy of your elements with the most important things at the top or near your focal point and the less important information below.
Small business owners should have a basic understanding of these graphic design elements in order to bounce ideas off of their designers and know when something looks too cramped. A mistake a lot of people do is put too much information, too many photos and too many elements in their designs which make things look cramped, unorganized and prevents the audience from fully processing your message. I hope this quick intro to some of the basic principles of graphic design will help you make good decisions for your small business marketing materials.
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