I’ve been in this business for over 20 years and no matter how much technology and design changes, it is still vital to have images that are crisp, good resolution, and visually pleasing. We do most things first with our eyes… eat, shop, marry, even what books we want to read. We first off look at the cover and if it designed well, it catches our attention. Even headlines written to provoke emotion will get a double glance.
It doesn’t matter what we design: magazines, newsletters, greeting cards, paintings, websites or flyers, the need for good design still exists. After all, all these mediums have a call to action. We want someone to take action and that could be buy our product, hire us to perform a service, download an app, or try out a recipe. While the technology changes in the software we use or utensils we use to create, the method of how to create hasn’t.
As a web content manager for my day job, my #1 responsibility is to ensure their website is functioning and one of the ways of doing that is with good artwork. We are non-profit and so even though we’re not in it to make money, we want to reach new members while retaining the current ones. We want them to see the services they have access to by being a paid member. I create ads, slides, flyers, newsletters, cover images for social and on our event registration web pages. All of these have the same branding which I’ll talk about later. Essentially, I want our audience to recognize the artwork so they know they’re doing business with the right organization. I aim to not leave our visitors confused with our marketing materials.
The beginning of great imagery starts with a few rules like: (a) how to use photography with text, (b) picking out the right color palette, and (c) optimizing the final piece so it will load quickly. If you follow technology at all, you’ll notice the talk is about faster load times. People want web pages to load in seconds or they’re going somewhere else. Also, part of great imagery is the consistent branding. No matter where you are in the world, if you see a big yellow M, you know it McDonald’s. They’ve branded their name for so many years that you don’t have to see their name, just the emblem is enough. They’ve not changed that. Brilliant!
As a company, it’s important that no matter what marketing materials are designed, the logo remains consistent along with the color palette. When I design flyers for events for my day job, I keep that in mind even if there’s a theme to the event. I try to stick to the logo color swatch and even use shades of one color to make the piece look more eye catching. I follow the same practice for hubby’s photo business. Case in point: I designed the poster below for his 2016 photo show using the colors from his logo at that time as well as his favorite color green.
I know I’m talking more graphic design, but the same goes for any creative medium. I even take notice in my crafting when I look at yarns. I love variegated and ombre yarns with their different colors. I’ve seen colorways that I would have never thought of putting together. My favorites are Caron Simply Soft Ombre, Lion Brand Scarfie, Lion Brand Landscapes and I like the Lion Brand Shawl in Ball colorways too.
Good design is everywhere. When you pick out a greeting card, you’re looking for imagery that stands out to you. Maybe you look for your favorite color. How about apps for your phone? I just recently upgraded my smartphone and I changed the look of my home screen and apps to a rose gold. Why? Cause I really like that color!
So what are the general rules for design?
Here’s what I learned when I was in design training that still works today:
- For a full color piece, I recommend using no more than three different colors and be sure they compliment each other. A color wheel is a helpful tool in this case. Too many contrasting colors together can confuse the reader leaving your message obscured. For a two-color piece, you can pick two opposite colors or one color using two different shades of that color. Blue is a good example where you can use different shades and even using a turquoise bluish greenish color.
- Use no more than two different fonts. Sans-serif fonts are typically used for titles. They are just straight up and down letters which are harder to read in paragraphs but great for large titles. Serif fonts are what we use for body copy. Now, I have to contradict myself by saying there’s an exception to this rule, because some serif fonts can double as title fonts too. Here’s my favs:
My favorite sans-serif fonts are:
|The classic sans-serif font and typically you can’t go wrong using it because it’s a universal font that comes pre-installed on all devices even where you’re on Android, iOS, Windows, or Mac.|
|Some of the letters in this font are similar to Montserrat and makes me this one a 2nd favorite of mine.|
My favorite serif fonts are:
|My absolute FAVORITE font for body copy. I came across it late last year and immediately and fell in love with it. Immediately I changed my blog body font and I use it just about on everything I create now!|
|This is a versatile font (the exception to the rule) which can be used as a heading or body copy and that makes this font my #1 favorite all around font. You’ll see it used here on my blog and if I can use in anything else I design, I do!|
The important thing about creating anything is the message you want to convey. It could be an oil painting of a mountain surrounded by a river under a warm sunset with a message of serenity to a a plate of spaghetti and meatballs topped with Italian parsley and accompanied with garlic bread to make you hungry even if you’re not. The end result is that the message doesn’t get lost in the design.