There’s a lot to consider when designing a piece of work, with the recent technologies and trends making it even more difficult. By keeping these 9 elements in mind, you can make sure that your design is professional, effective and appealing.
Colour is the first thing you notice about a piece of design, that’s why it is vital to choose the right colours. Different colours can create different emotions, have different connotations and can even create different atmospheres. For example, Cadburys main colour is purple, which represents creativity, luxury & royalty (Cadburys is royalty in the world of chocolate!). All companies should have a colour theme and should be kept exactly the same throughout all artwork and design. You want your business to be recognised by the colour, just like when you see red and yellow together you think of McDonalds. Plus remember if you are doing print use CMYK and if you are doing web design use RGB!
Using size can define hierarchy, draws attention to certain content and helps us make sense of things. For example, if you were to draw an ant and an elephant you would draw the ant smaller which can help the viewer make sense of what they are seeing a lot quicker. Though scale doesn’t have to be real, if you were designing a movie poster and had to include 5 cast members, you’d make the images the same size!? But there’s no reason why you can’t make the main character bigger, to signify their importance.
It is important to have space in design as it gives the eye a rest, breaks up information and leads the eye. Without space in your design then nothing would be legible, it breaks up the information so that it can be seen more clearly.
Though not every element should be separated, don’t be afraid to experiment with overlapping and layers. Also have a play with negative space. Negative space is the space between elements that makes up a shape (see image), working with negative space can be very effective if executed well.
Different elements of design should stand apart from each other. This can be achieved with colour, size, tone and much more. Contrast can be the difference between a piece of design being readable and not. For example, if you had a black background you’d wouldn’t want darker coloured text because you wouldn’t be able to read it, so using a lighter colour would be more reasonable. (Unless of course you want it to be harder to read).
Contrast can be used to draw attention to a certain element. For example, using a dark theme but then for the thing you want the viewer to be drawn to such as the call to action, should be a brighter colour so that it stands out from the rest of the content.
Alignment can be the difference between a piece of design work looking professional or unprofessional. Grids are always a good idea! (places temporary rows, columns and margins on you canvas), this way you know that everything is lined up perfectly. For example, a grid may have 6 columns, some content many go across 1 column, or 2 or 3 or even 4, but will still look neat and clean.
Using texture is rare (especially in digital work) and so maybe should be used more often!? Texture can bring some interesting depth and tangibility to your work. Using texture with digital artwork can be difficult, as it can easily become overwhelming and messy. Layers can bring texture and depth to flat designs. Including texture in print can be a clever idea, making it tangible, and stand out from the rest. It involves the readers senses (rough, smooth etc.), making their experience of the design a lot more interesting and interactive. A good trick to use is relating the texture to the business. E.g. A wood furniture company could create their business cards from wood.
It has been found that humans are attracted to symmetrical faces, which technically means we should be attracted to symmetrical designs, so it’s a clever idea to use it where you can. A lot of big logos are symmetrical, think of the Volkswagen and the McDonalds logos. Using symmetry in the layout of a double page spread in a publication will attract the readers eye, as symmetry reflects balance and harmony.
There are thousands of fonts out there, so how do you choose the right font for your design? First is your design for print or for web? It is said that Sans Serif is more readable on web and Serif fonts are better on print. The size, weight, kerning, hierarchy, and leading etc. of a font can make a huge difference in the look of a piece of design.
When designing a web page, the choosing of a font is important to think about. If the person doesn’t have the font that you are using on there computer, then the browser will change the font to one that they do have, which could effect the overall look of the design. One way around this is to use Google Fonts, Google Fonts is a library of fonts on the web (all free!). By using a Google Font online ensures that the viewer will be able to see the correct font, as they are all online and so don’t need to have the font downloaded. to be able to view it.
Pairing fonts can be quite a skill and take a few goes to get it just right. I’d personally say not to use more than three different fonts in a piece of design as it can make it look messy. Choose two fonts, one for your headlines and the other for the main content, usually two contrasting fonts use quite well, for example Gochi Hand (a Handwriting font) and Montserrat (a Sans Serif font).
Composition is placing all these elements on the canvas. Points to follow when laying out your design:
Get experimenting, these aren’t rules they are guide lines! Be creative and make your own style!
Or if you want to leave it down to the professionals, or simple just don’t have the time, get in touch.
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