10 BEST PRACTICES FOR GOOD DESIGN
In this article I’ll share my ten personal best practices that in general contribute to a good design.
# 1: REDUCTION
Get rid of everything which is not necessary. As soon as you reach a point where nothing can be left out any more, you have a clear layout and can work on some details here and there. So in general: Less is more.
# 2: SPECIALITIES IN LOGO DESIGN
When designing a logo, make sure you also test it in black and white as well as in small and big size - on a screen and, if somehow possible, also in a printed version.
# 3: USE A GRID
Every good layout is based on a good grid. All elements can be aligned towards a grid. It also helps to design your grid in a flexible way. When I layout magazines, for instance, I mostly use a twelve column grid, so I can layout copy and images as two, three or even four column layouts.
# 4: TARGET GROUP
It’s very important to design for your target group. Colours, round or straight or regular or irregular shapes, fonts, the order of design elements, photo moods, the proportion of text and image etc. ... all these elements have an impact on your layout. And in the end, the layout has to make sense and speak to the people you want to win for your design.
# 5: CONTRASTS
Contrasts generate excitement and mix up the layout. Whether you want your layout to rather be subtle and silent or outstanding and loud, you can work with more or less extreme contrasts. I think, it’s best to focus on one contrast so it really works best. (To give you an example: Combine a handwriting with a sans-serif font, whereas all fonts have just one colour and the background has only one colour too.)
# 6: REPEATING ELEMENTS
Repeating elements allow for a better orientation and contribute to an overall positive reading experience. Repeating elements can be headline bars, big letters at a very specific position in the layout, repeating picture orders at specific positions or other design elements such as symbols or the start of a text column at the exact same position when starting a new chapter in your editorial design.
# 7: SCREEN VS. PRINT
When you design something on a screen, that is supposed to be used in a printed format, it’s always good to do a test print. Things often seem different when they’re printed out. Especially font sizes and colour contrasts can be evaluated better on print rather than on a screen.
# 8: SLEEP OVER IT
One of the most important tips in my opinion: Once your design is finished (or you think it’s finished) > sleep over it and look at it the next day with a fresh mind. All good designers need to have a distance to their work here and there to deliver great quality in the end. After a good night’s rest, you’ll see things more clearly than working on it for hours and get stuck in the design.
# 9: DON'T MIX TOO MANY FONTS
As mentioned earlier, working with contrasts is a good thing. However, be careful when mixing fonts. Never combine too many fonts in one layout. It’s better to use less fonts in various styles (like italic or bold) rather than wildly mixing too many completely different fonts. Mostly, using two or three fonts is enough. And always think about what fonts and styles you are going to use for which purpose before you start designing. I personally like to work with the typography matrix from Berlin-based typography expert Wolfgang Beinert, as it really helps me in my everyday work.
# 10: CALL TO ACTION
The last tip relates to advertisements in particular: Before you start designing, ask yourself: What’s the core message of this advertisement? What’s the concrete call to action, what do I want to achieve? Do I want people to click on a specific button? Do I want people to buy a ticket for a certain event? Do I want people to call a certain telephone number to ask for an appointment? Whatever it is, every advertisement should have one clear call to action which has to visually stand out in your layout.
You can also download this article as a free whitepaper.
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