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Five graphic design principles for the aesthetically confused
Experience Design

Five graphic design principles for the aesthetically confused

Design--it’s everywhere, from our billboards to our social media feeds, to our own homes. And if you’re anything like the rest of us, you may find that some designs stick better with you than others.

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Anjali Patel
October 15, 2021

Design--it’s everywhere, from our billboards to our social media feeds, to our own homes. And if you’re anything like the rest of us, you may find that some designs stick better with you than others. But without completing coursework in graphic design, it can often be hard to decipher why we’re drawn to the logos and designs we’re drawn to, and how we can implement certain design strategies into our own brand identities. Luckily, at Pixoul, we do the hard work for you, creating a formula for success. Still have no idea where to start, or just want to know a few basics about design? Keep reading for our five graphic design principles for the aesthetically confused.

1. Keep it readable

When we think of successful graphic designers, it may be tempting to lump them all into a “complex” category, assuming that professional experience makes for complicated patterns and designs. But on the contrary, it’s a better idea to keep your design simple and straightforward, adopting a “less is more” mentality. According to Canva, you should “make sure every element has a reason to be in the design” This means that you should rid yourself of anything that takes away from your goal with your design. For example, if you’re trying to advertise your website on social media with an Instagram post, stay away from a distracting background or typeface. Coincidentally, more advanced elements such as animations should be used sparingly and masterfully: only implement them in your design if you truly believe that your message could benefit from it and only if it appears professional. No idea where to start? Try keeping a monochromatic color scheme (such as a dark blue background and a light blue typeface) and type family (such as Times New Roman and Times New Roman Italic) to keep it clean. Less is more!

2. Pick a focal point

Every photographer you ever meet will gladly rant about the importance of a sharp focal point in your image. The same is true in graphic design- the eye needs to know where to go, or else your image may not read well or resonate with your audience. When you’re creating a design, think about the most important aspect of your work. For example, if you have a book lending company, perhaps you want a logo of an owl reading. The design on the owl should be clear and concise, and it should be evident that it’s reading. Texture, color, and type can be conducive to your design in small doses, but make sure that the eye is always drawn to what’s the most important information in your design. It may help to have a test audience before you launch publicly (even the feedback of a few friends could prove extremely helpful). Also, keep in mind the rule of thirds- placing your focal point in one of the thirds of your frame (as opposed to the center) can help further draw the eye to what you want to tell the world.

3. Know your color psychology

Don’t be intimidated by the term “psychology”- breaking down the process of color communication is much simpler than it sounds! Think of the last time you stopped at a traffic light- it likely caught your attention because the red light caused you to make a quick decision. Red is notorious for being associated with passion, power, energy, and warning, and it’s often tied into branding to help the brain come to a halt. Think again about that traffic light and what happens when the light turns green. There’s less of an urgency to act, and more of a gentle push to go forward. That’s why green is used in ads or designs that are meant to signify healing, calm, new growth, or occasionally, envy. Unfortunately, we can’t break down many more colors here, because we want to keep this blog post concise. But the next time a design strikes a certain knee-jerk response from you, step back and evaluate the colors present, and why they may have evoked that response. For more information, check out this site:

4. Something old, something new

The phrase above isn’t just a cute sentiment at weddings- it’s one of the main unspoken rules of graphic design! Whenever there’s a new or modern element introduced to your audience, adding something that looks familiar or tactile can add a DIY edge that appeals to your audience. With tools such as Photoshop, Illustrator, or even Canva, try experimenting with clean lines and images mixed with the occasional hand-drawn illustration or typology. It’s easy to fake a hand-drawn look by turning down the opacity of your type and looking for fonts with slightly imperfect curves and edges. Granted, sometimes your company will benefit from an entirely sleek or entirely rustic look. But incorporating the best of both worlds into your branding is all but guaranteed to be a winning strategy.

5. Opposites attract

Our final tip comes from something that should be common knowledge but is all too often forgotten in graphic design. When you want to create content that truly stands out, go for complementary colors and shapes. We’re aware that in the first section, we advised you to stick within a certain type and color family- this is still a great idea for those who are just getting started. But once you’re comfortable enough with your graphic design experience, venture into the world of color theory and see what combinations would be most conducive to your brand identity. Once you understand the very basics (ie, red is the opposite of green, yellow is the opposite of blue, etc.), feel free to explore different shades and hues (such as teal and mustard instead of yellow and blue) and create a complementary palette that speaks volumes about your brand/product.

Remember: you have the power to polish up your brand identity with a bit of creativity and a few (often free) resources. Ready to take the next step towards perfecting your UX and UI strategies for your customers? Contact us today so we can deliver you the best. Until then, happy designing!

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Anjali Patel

Anjali is a sophomore at Northwestern University majoring in Economics. Her passion lies in discovering creative, data-driven solutions. In her free time, she loves reading literature, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

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