Have you ever seen a design so terrible it gave you migraine?
This post is a direct response to the millions of voices protesting against terrible design (I feel your pain, I see your placards) and a guide for designers as well as those who depend on design agencies or freelancers to grab attention (in a good way) and delight and inform and persuade.
From a website to a billboard, and from toilet paper packaging to a brochure, every single piece of design is trying to communicate a message.
Design elements are tools a designer uses to craft meaning and bring clarity to a muddled mess of ideas. Here we go:
Everything is ultimately a shape.
The three basic shape types are geometric (circles, squares, triangles etc.), natural (leaves, trees, people etc.) and abstract (icons, stylisations etc.)
Angular shapes indicate masculinity while curvy shapes indicate femininity.
Square shapes communicate security, trustworthiness, and stability (GTB, I see you).
Circles are like eye candy: they are complete and almost always communicate unity.
Color plays a huge role in how customers relate/respond your brand and influences their responses to your marketing.
Each color represents different emotions and personalities, and can affect the mood of your visual designs.
Sir isaac newton is widely credited with creating the very first color wheel back in 1706.
Consider colors that appear directly opposite or beside each other on the color wheel. Consider the saturation and brightness of each color.
Learn the basics of color theory to be sure a composition has the right mood, temperature and tone.
Blank space or white space is not wasted space. Less is more.
The human eye prefers to look at visuals that are not cluttered or crowded.
White space can assist in clearer communication and effective graphic design.
Use it effectively to give the eye a rest, define importance and lead the eye to where you want it to travel.
Typography (fonts) is about getting your message across in the most concise, effective and visually appealing way possible.
Here are some tips for good typography:
- Don’t use more than 3 fonts in a design
- Don’t use more than 3 colors
- Use hierarchy for headings, paragraphs, etc.
- Use white space and don’t fill an entire page, email or flyer with text
Size & scale
Size refers to the actual dimensions of a particular element, while the scale is its relation to its original value.
It is used to convey importance, attract attention and create contrast.
You can use scale to create a visual hierarchy for your design.
Scale can help us make sense of designs and images.
Alignment is an invisible axis that runs between elements, connecting them visually either by their edges or centers
It serves to put elements together in a visible and readable arrangement.
When elements are aligned, they create a visual connection with each other that communicates a story.
Without proper alignment, a well-intended design quickly becomes a horror movie.
How does your eye move across the page?
Do your readers know exactly where to look next?
The eye naturally travels from the top left corner to the bottom right corner, in a ‘sweeping’ motion. Placing your top content to the left of your page, or along the top is your best bet.
However, ensure you adapt your designs’ flow and direction on a case-by-case basis.
There you have it.
The 7 elements that make a great design.
Now, you know what to look for in a design, and hopefully, how to ensure designs for your brand are a hit, back to back.
Did I miss anything? Did you find this useful? Hit me up in the comments section and I just might write a sequel. I just might.
Epower is a web & mobile development agency with an insatiable thirst for building amazing products that drive business growth.
We are obsessed with creating fresh, functional, visually fascinating and feature-rich website designs & mobile apps that power brands.