Like every craft, creating designs is technical business. Simply putting together text and image items on a canvas picked on a whim will not get you the results you want for an advert or a customizable template.
Creating consistently good designs is easier than ever with the easy-to-use design tools offered by PosterMyWall, but to create great designs, you need something more. In this blog post, we’ll outline some of the design tips and tricks used by experts to make their designs stand out from the rest.
We recommend reading this resource especially if you’re a designer at PosterMyWall. Let’s go!
Research, research. Research!
Like any serious endeavor, jumping in blind is not a good idea, even if it’s graphic design. First, you need to know why you’re designing something, and second, you need to know your design’s intended purpose.
Unlike art for art’s sake, graphic design is a means to an end. That could be selling a product or providing information. So if you’re creating a cocktail menu, it should look like a cocktail menu at a glance. How do you know it looks right?
- It should clearly list out the menu items, with fonts that are easy to read and understand.
- Use imagery that makes sense. You want pictures of drinks and cocktails in a cocktail menu.
- The colors you pick should be at home with the menu. Use colors that compliment one another and work well with your layout and fonts.
- Use design sizes that are relevant to the design. Some common menu sizes are:
- Flyer (US letter) – 8.5in x 11in
- Tabloid – 11in x 17in
- Half page letter – 4.25in x 11 in
One of the golden rules of creating high quality templates is to design it such that customization is easy. A customer who finds your design hard or even frustrating to customize will hit the back button in no time. To make their design experience easy, here’s what you need to do.
Manage item placement
Too many cooks spoil the broth is an overused saying that makes a lot of sense here. In your attempt to create a complex and interesting template, you may end up cluttering the whole design.
In cluttered designs, some items will either get overshadowed or may become hard to select because of an overlap of multiple items.
To avoid cluttering, reduce the number of graphic items and space them out uniformly, allowing breathing room for each graphic item present in your template.
Use sensible placeholders
As a designer and an avid user of templates, nothing grinds my gears more than a design with lazy placeholders. We’ve all seen them. Templates with excessively used lipsum lorem text or ‘Add text’ items sprinkled along its length does not make for a good design.
What kind of placeholders a designer used says a lot about the time and effort they placed into the design. A hastily prepared template will sacrifice their text content first.
What’s a sensible placeholder for your template? If your template is a book cover, it should have a sample book cover title with a placeholder author name. If it’s a Mediterranean menu, it should contain menu items and prices commonly found in a Mediterranean menu. A simple Google search is all you need to help you fill out these details.
Add relevant placeholders so your customers will know where to add their company name, tagline, additional details, contact information in the right places.
Layouts are central to any design, and with designs that will be endlessly customized, keeping things simplified and relevant will get you the most attention.
For example, lawn care flyers tend to use earthy colors, real estate flyers use large photos of rooms/houses, and a concert flyer may use bright colors such as red, or darker colors, like brown and black or other colors that resonate with the band or genre of music.
Before designing your templates, try to learn how others approach that theme. If you’re new to designing, this is especially useful so you can discover your art style in the process. Browse the following sites for inspiration:
Some notes on fonts
Good font choice can differentiate a professional design from amateur designs. It can create wonders in an otherwise plain flyer or banner. Correct typeface usage is a skill that cannot be learned overnight and requires experimentation and time. Here’s a few tips to take you in the right direction when working with typefaces.
Limit your fonts
With so many fonts available in the PosterMyWall editor for your use, it’s easy to go overboard and insert all kinds of fonts to your design. But that’s the wrong way to tackle fonts.
Professionally designers limit themselves to two, sometimes three fonts in their designs. The header, subheader font usually varies from the body text font.
Alternatively, you can also work with various weight options of the same font. This way, you can work with a variety of fonts that are sure to work with one another.
Keep things clear and simple!
This cannot be stressed enough. Too many designs lose their look and purpose because there’s so much going on. Like we mentioned earlier, every design has a purpose. To expand on that, every design element added to your design (videos, clipart, text content and images) also has a purpose, and they work together to create your complete design.
Even with limited design elements, there’s a ton of ways you can make less with more, just by following the right techniques.
Don’t be afraid to go big
Text hierarchy doesn’t have a set formula when it comes to height and size for your text font. A great way to create impactful designs is by using fonts that (figuratively) blast through the design.
You can do wonders with a single word that acts as a header for your design. The word ‘SALE’ or ‘ATTENTION’ in an otherwise simple design can make for a highly functional design, all done with little effort.
This also works with design objects. You can use scale to work with all kinds of shapes, lines and boxes.
Carry your design with color
Use crisp images
Clear, professionally photographed images are a great way to create a wow factor for your design. Couple that with filters, multiply effects and tint in the PosterMyWall editor to play around with color and create contrasting or complementary effects in your design.
Of course, you don’t need to own a DSLR to take such photos. Most of us don’t have the time or the money for such endeavors. Instead, you can use stock graphics available online and in the stock graphic libraries on PosterMyWall. You can directly browse stock graphics by Flickr, Pixabay, GettyImages and Storyblocks without the need to leave your work.
You’ll also need to use crisp, high quality images to get published on PosterMyWall, as designs with low resolution images cannot be published as templates.
Make your design pop
What if I told you that individual design elements can be popped and enhanced without the need to change placement or size.
Effects like Shadow, Brightness and Borders can create contrast and make individual items stand out from the rest. We recommend using these effects sparingly to highlight the most items in your design. Overuse of design enhancing effects can make the whole template look gaudy.
Use color themes
Whole theories have been made around the use of color. Color can be used to invoke a wide range of emotions and can also create attention grabbing or soothing designs.
The first rule of deciding a color theme for your design is to select a central color around your design.
Once you’ve selected your color, you can create or find a theme around it, based around applying various shades of that color or by using colors that contrast it. This is one way of creating color harmony in your design. There’s many ways to do it, and sites like Adobe can help you create or choose color themes with their interactive and fun color picker tool.
Print and online use considerations
The end result of any graphic design content is usage as a flyer, book cover, Facebook cover, album cover or anything else that can be used to promote, sell and inform others.
There are some design considerations to keep in mind when preparing some templates so they can be reused by others without any problems arising. We’ll have a look at some design practices you need to keep in mind when preparing flyers, posters and Facebook covers.
Preparing flyers and posters
Posters and flyers of all kinds are usually designed with printing in mind. A common best practice for creating print content is making sure no content is too close to the edge. This is because most printers cut off a small portion of the printed item from the edges so it can fit in the page properly.
This is why some posters or flyer designs come with ‘bleed lines’ added, which may get removed in the final print so that the main design doesn’t cut off.
Preparing Facebook cover photos and videos
Facebook cover photos and videos can be designed and uploaded on Facebook and used as covers for your Facebook timeline, page or group. These come with their own design specifications:
- Facebook cover photo – 851px by 315px
- Facebook cover video – 820px by 462px
Facebook cover photos must be designed with all crucial content in the center of the design. Content near the top and bottom will be cut off in the cover preview as seen by anyone who comes to your page. We cover Facebook cover photo creation in more detail in this blog post.
Content in your Facebook cover videos must be at the center of the design, and away from the sides of the design. As shown in the diagram below, important content needs to be in the blue area.
Cover videos also come with additional requirements, otherwise you will not be able to use it as a cover on Facebook:
- Video length needs to be between 21 seconds and 90 seconds.
- Design size needs to be the Facebook cover video (16:9) preset as offered in the PosterMyWall editor.
Try something new
Design isn’t all about following rules and formulas. The best tip we can offer you here is to keep practicing and try new things, explore more design types and have fun exploring your creativity as you go.
Of course, if you have any questions or would like to learn about the intricacies of design and marketing your design, you can jump back to this article or our Design Resources in the Help Center.
We hope you have a great time designing at PosterMyWall.