Make it Pretty With Design Principles

People remember 10% of what they hear, 20% of what they read and about 80% of what they see and do according to recent studies at New York University.

That is a whole lot of pressure on how pretty marketing materials should be and what people can do with them.

It really shouldn’t surprise anyone that so much relies on visual communication since 70% of the sense receptors in the human body are in our eyes. Yet, very few people are aware of the basic principles of design and how they can help with their everyday promotions.

In an effort to make the world prettier, I would like to share the seven principles of design that might help you improve the visual communication materials you create.

1) Balance
Utilize this principle when placing importance on certain items that require scale and it can help you create a hierarchy of information. Everything can’t be the BIGGEST thing on the page. Figure out what should be and what elements can offer supporting roles by being a little smaller.

2) Gradation
Using gradations can create linear perspectives and movement. Use color gradations or value gradations to add interest and movements to shapes.

3) Repetition
Using forms that have repetition in alignment can help create movement and progression. You can maintain a sense of order with the use of multiples in patterns. You can also create interest by varying one of many in a systematic order and the eye will be drawn to what is unique.

4) Contrast
Juxtaposing elements (i.e.: color, tone, value, alignment) will create contrast, which can create a focal point. In most layouts this is a good principle to practice in the center of a document. But be careful because too much contrast can create a feeling of being scattered.

5) Harmony
When you need to create calmness this principle is key. Harmony is a satisfying visual tool to combine elements of similarity in your document (ie: similar shapes, adjacent colors on the color wheel). Next time you are in a spa notice the color palettes and artwork, everything tends to be minimal and speaking quietly to each other (if colors and shapes could talk).

6) Dominance
Although we claim every bit of text needs to be included, visually it can’t ALL be important with every message. You need to figure out how you’ll reel the viewer in. Creating a main headline, inserting a large photograph or another singular item among other messages and forms will allow a viewer to start somewhere and work through the messaging from there.

7) Unity
Relate design elements to the big ideas you a trying to express. If you are trying to use too many colors or font faces it can distract from the message. Less is more. Pick a design strategy and focus on your message and the elements will be useful in communicating that to a viewer.

People don’t often know WHY they are attracted to certain advertisements, marketing, direct mail or even artwork they hang in their houses, but they know WHEN they are. Design is subjective and needs to be an evolution in the world, however good design effectively uses the design principles outlined above and makes a viewer pay attention.

In a world with thousands of advertising messages a day, be mindful and do your part to make the world a prettier place.

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