Do-it-yourself Design Tips

So you’ve mastered the use of Canva but have you mastered the art of visual communication?

A piece of technology can only facilitate the creation of your marketing communications – to create effective communications, you need to have a strong understanding of how to deliver the messages you wish to be received in the most compelling way.

There should be a clear hierarchy of messages that you want to deliver in the optimal order to be persuasive and compelling. If you use design techniques ineffectively, your audience will not get a clear understanding of your message quickly and easily. It’s like a sales person starting at the end of their pitch, going to the middle, to the front and then vacillating in between – they wouldn’t do that in person so you shouldn’t do it in design.

Here are a few simple tips to help you communicate through visual design:

1. Ensure your font sizes, types and/or colours are differentiated between headlines, sub heads and body copy so readers can understand the order of importance in how they should be read. This will ease the readership process and will enable messaging to be delivered systematically to the audience without requiring you to present the content as a traditional, boring document.

2. Use a range of communication styles to deliver content so that it is easy to read. Consider where some content can be communicated via an infographic? Can some detail be provided in a table or highlight box? Would a creatively designed pull out box of dot points be better than a block of copy? Can images tell the story or does the complexity of the detail require a picture to be painted via longer copy?

3. Use colour to highlight where you want the eye to go when skimming through the collateral. Colour in a headline for example could connect to colour in some key points further down the page and the same colour could attract attention to the logo. If you can engage your audience in the highlights, you can persuade them to take the time to attend further to the detail.

4. Don’t shout at your audience. You don’t have to use super-large fonts, multiple bold colours and huge imagery to attract attention. In fact, these tactics can often be overwhelming and damage a reader’s willingness and ability to understand your messaging. When you think you’ve finished designing your collateral, try pulling down the size of everything just a little and consider whether it helps to provide greater clarity and a more appealing sense of calmness to your design.

5. Don’t be afraid of white space. There should always be space around key elements of your design such as your logo, headlines and important information. Less is usually more (unless a sense of chaos is what you are trying to achieve!) so if there’s too much on the page, increase the size of your document and spread the content out, change the way you communicate the content (see point 2 above) or simply get out the red pen and only leave in what is vital for your messaging.

6. Have a brand style that you use for all your communications. Consistency in fonts, colours, placement of key elements (eg where you place your logo), types of imagery (eg ‘never’ versus ‘always’ use people, use bold hero shots versus minimalistic images, use humorous or quirky images, use images with the same colours or use consistent filters on all images), use of graphic styling (eg use similar infographics, line work, gradients versus flat colours or vectors) and even have a consistent tone of voice in your copy. These are just a few elements of a brand standards manual but ensuring you have the basics covered will boost your image as a quality leader in your field and improve your brand awareness.