Graphic design is one of the great creative arts, and the possibilities of print and online layouts are limitless. But even the best graphic designers need to be reminded of simple design truths, too. Here are five design truths that every designer should know.
1. Limit your fonts.
Today’s layout software gives you seemingly unlimited options in font choices. But as in most things, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Most experts use the rule of thumb of a maximum of three fonts per layout.
2. Don’t over-kern or over-track.
Tracking and kerning allow you to adjust the spaces between letters and words in a paragraph. This can be a convenient way to pull up widows and orphans and fix awkward line breaks, but use these techniques sparingly. If done right, adjustments shouldn’t be noticeable. You don’t want to end up with words that look like they’ve been slammed between two concrete blocks or stretched like salt water taffy.
3. Use vector format for graphics.
Save graphics in vector format, especially if you will be enlarging them. Digital images are made up of millions of pixels. If you enlarge graphics too much, they will become pixelated. Vector format allows you to adjust sizing without losing crispness. No matter what channel you use—print, email, mobile, online—your graphics should look great.
4. Avoid over-use of stock photography.
Using royalty-free (or even free) images can keep costs down, but they tend to look “stock” and without creativity or uniqueness. Some images are so generic that you see them being used multiple places. You don’t want yours to be one of them!
5. Don’t crowd!
It’s tempting to try to cram as much information into the layout as possible, but remember that white space is your friend. White space is clean and inviting. It draws the eye in. Instead of using heavy text, tell your story through graphics, bulleted lists, and pullouts. This makes information easier and faster for people to read and retain.
Graphic design is an art, not a science, but these simple steps will ensure that your print, email, and online designs look clean and professional every time.