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3 ways to instantly up your design game

Updated: Jul 1

Graphic Design is more than just what’s pretty/on-brand/on-trend.


Whether you design for your own business or work in social media/marketing for a company, there are a few ways that you can instantly improve your designs.


If you take the time to consider these three things when creating your next designs, they will look and perform better.


1. When choosing fonts, less is more

(aka Typography)


There are now thousands of typefaces to choose from. This is great for graphic design because there is likely to be a font that’s exactly what you need out there somewhere.


However, whilst there are more fonts that are widely available, only a portion of them remain free for personal and commercial use. This means that those that are completely 100% free are becoming over-used.


Do you recognise any of these fonts? Unless you’ve been staying inside and off of social media, you’ve likely seen all three of them on more than one occasion this year. The problem is, the more a font is over-used, the more watered down the brands that use it become.


Top tip: By sticking to cleaner fonts, and avoiding the more fussy/decorative fonts, you’re more likely to get away with using the free ones.

Once you’ve chosen your main font, choose one other to pair it with. It’s good practice to have no more than 2 fonts in one design. An easy, albeit slightly weird, way to remember this is by remembering the phrase ‘2 in 1’ (like body wash & shampoo). When using different fonts, have no more than 2 in 1 design.


Pairing fonts is an art and takes practice. The good news is, lots of designers have shared their favourite font pairings online – and I’m going to share some with you too. Canva have uploaded their own guide of 30 font pairings. Generally speaking, you want to choose a bolder or more calligraphic font and pair it with something simpler and good for smaller copy, such as:


Top typography tips:
  • Choose good fonts and pair them wisely.

  • Try to have no more than 2 fonts on a poster or social post.

  • Make sure the fonts you use aren’t being used by everyone all of the time.


2. Tidy up your text


Did you know that there is more to text design than copying & pasting it into the content you are creating? Two things to consider are rags and widows. These are the names of things that need correcting to make a piece read and flow better from line to line.


Good Rags


The rag of your text is the uneven side. Consider a paragraph that is left-aligned, like the paragraphs in this post, the rag is the shape of the text on the right. And vice-versa, if this text was right-aligned, the rag would be on the left.


A good rag is one that has little length changes from line to line, and flows nicely. A bad rag makes your eyes do more work to follow the text and creates white shapes in the margin.

Top tip: To achieve a good rag, you may need to manually adjust what is within each line rather than letting the text box choose for you.

Widows


Widows are one, two, or three words that make up the last line of a paragraph. They create extra space which looks like a blank line. The extra space can be distracting for the reader and make the content of your design feel off-balance. Widows are more obvious at the end of wider paragraphs.

To get rid of widows, you can first try manually adjusting the length of each line until there are no words left over on the last line (remember to keep a good rag whilst you make these changes). If that doesn’t work, you might need to change the copy of the text slightly, by removing a few words in lines higher up or bulking out a sentence, to get rid of widows.


3. Guide your audience


When designing, it’s important to consider how the audience will interact with the content:

  • What will they see first?

  • What will they see last?

  • What do you want them to remember?

  • What do you want them to do? (aka: call to action)

You can use text size, font style, and placement to guide the audience’s eye around your content. If you’ve chosen two fonts, make sure that your bolder/more in-your-face font is the one that contains the information you want them to see first. You can then use your supporting font or your main font in a smaller size for follow up information.


Top tip: don’t go wild with different sized text - stick to a couple of font sizes and use placement to help with the rest

Take this flyer I designed for DSC Carpet & Flooring, for example:



Your eye is drawn from the top left, down to the text in the middle left, down to the bullet point list on the right, which leads you to their contact information.

  1. When you see the flyer, you immediately know it’s for carpet and vinyl fitting

  2. You then see some of the reasons to choose them and trust them with your home

  3. Then you arrive at their contact details. This is their call to action – they are asking you to get in touch with them

This flyer uses one font, in 2 sizes (well, technically 3). The website, list, and contact details are all 17pt. The text on the middle left and the text in the black box are 24pt and 26.5pt, respectively. On the flyer, they appear and perform as if they are the same size. The reason they are different is because white text on a black background looks smaller to the human eye than black text on a white background, so I have adjusted the white text accordingly.


You can apply this to your social media posts, flyers, posters, and email marketing. First consider what information is most important, and how you want to guide your audience through the information. Then use font sizes, styles, and text placement to achieve it!


In summary, these are the 3 ways to instantly up your design game:

1. When choosing fonts, less is more

2. Tidy up your text

3. Guide your audience


If you have any questions, or would like to speak with me about my graphic design services, drop me an email at: info@amywaltersdesign.co.uk


Insta: @AmyWaltersDesignUK, Twitter: @AmyWDesignUK, LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/amybwalters
Drop me a line: info@amywaltersdesign.co.uk

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