Design can be tough to nail, and for beginners, creating any document can be frustrating and time-consuming. With time and practice, however, anyone can learn how to create an eye-catching design that draws the attention of their audience. Here’s five tips to help get you started!
Stick to a maximum of two different fonts
This was one of the first things that I learned in my design courses during college, but something that’s proven time and time again to be of utter importance during any design project. Typically, you’ll want a serif font, like Times New Roman, for any body text, and a sans serif font, like Arial, or a script (cursive) font for things like headings and titles. In addition to bolding, coloration, and size differences, having more than two different font choices can be overbearing to the reader. In the example document, I used a Sans-Serif font for the Title and Headings, and a Serif font for the body text. I did, however, use different sizes of the Sans-Serif font for the title and subheadings.
Stick to four or less different colors in your color scheme
Black and white, which are two colors that will almost always be used in any design count as two of the colors in your color scheme. A bold and bright color should be utilized to draw attention to the most important aspects of your design, but this color needs to be used sparingly to make sure that only the really important information is being highlighted. In addition to a bright color, a muted or soft color could also be used to create an intriguing background that draws attention to the entire post, making it stand apart from others. I used four different colors on the example, black and white, pink to highlight two important concepts, and teal to highlight all of my subheadings.
Utilize C.R.A.P. Principles
The C.R.A.P. Principles are the starting point and key to any design. Standing for contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity, they are the four principles that make up any good design. Contrast, as the word suggests is utilizing some sort of different feature to highlight different concepts. An example of this would be using the color red for something bad and green for something good, which easily cues the audience into the main point of the document.
Repetition is highlighting things that fit together in the same manner, such as bolding every subheading.
Alignment is how the text sits on the page. Is the text left-aligned, right-aligned, centered, or justified? Each option has a time and place, but aligning similar ideas in the same way makes a design each to follow. An example of alignment that we see all the time is Venn Diagrams, all of the aspects pertaining to one topic are left-aligned, all of the aspects pertaining to the other topic are right-aligned, with the cross-over in the middle. While you should rarely use an actual Venn Diagram in a design project, using a similar layout to one will make it simple for your audience to understand the concept you are writing about.
Proximity is the last principle, and probably the one that you utilize already just by second nature. All of the similar concepts should be close together, a bulleted list or chart are two examples of this in action, but even just putting information near each other that fits together is an example of proximity. I utilized a lot of the C.R.A.P. Principles here, using the teal and pink colors to have some color contrast, aligning all of the body text and subheadings to the left side, and centering the title, and putting the ‘Tip X’ subheading close to the tip body text.
Be sure to stay consistent
This concept is touched on with the C.R.A.P. Principle of repetition, but it’s so important that I’m going to mention it again and explain it a little more. Consistency is the key to all successful designs. Being consistent in spacing, indentation, wording, or anything else in the realm of page layout is important.
Some things to make sure you stay consistent on are font sizes across different headings and subheadings, always using the same color to highlight important information. Some more examples are, if you’re constantly spelling out one-hundred, do not randomly change it to 100 mid-way through; same goes for acronyms, if you say the United States a lot in your design, do not change it to U.S. halfway through.
Making sure to stick to one way of writing something and going back to check your work is important. A document should become easier for the audience to understand as they read it, due to your consistency with any design element. I made sure in my document to keep all of the spacing, font sizes,and underlines the exact same to ensure that the design does not stray from what the audience is expecting.
White Space is your friend
When I first started designing, I hated white space, I wanted to show off all of the cool things I knew how to do and that made for a very cluttered design that was difficult to comprehend; white space is not a bad thing! Statistically, information can be more easily processed in short sentences rather than a paragraph because our brains see white space as a spot to pause and process for a couple of seconds. If switching between topics, use white space in the same way you’d pause while giving a speech. If you write something down that’s really important, consider putting White Space underneath to help the audience remember. There is a lot of white space on the example document, and that’s okay, it keeps the audience focused on the important content!