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Better Graphic Design
Posted By:  Ashley Rahe
Tuesday, August 12, 2014

So many jobs encompass a multitude of tasks, a lot of which may be outside the bounds of the original job description. Writers, communication planners, office managers, assistants and receptionists are often called upon to do graphic design even if they have little or no training.

Rather than heading back to school for another degree in order to produce effective marketing materials, use these basic principles to make graphic design projects easier and more enjoyable to manage.

Learn to Love the Grid
Great printed and web-based marketing materials may have an organic, free form appearance but good design adheres to an invisible grid. Starting with a systematic and organized approach helps reduce the amount of trial and error that plagues inexperienced designers.

For articles, tools and general help with using grids, visit The Grid System.

Choosing Fonts
Your computer offers a long list of fonts to choose from but they’re most likely the same fonts seen everywhere else. If you are looking for something that will help your company stand out, try visiting My Fonts. Select a tag that best describes the type of font you’re looking for and see what comes up. Remember to consider size, readability and tone of your project when making your choice.

Start with a Story
By defining what you want to communicate before you start designing, you’re more likely to get your message across effectively. It’s true that designs need to be appealing but simply being pretty won’t affect whatever change your materials are trying to encourage (i.e. come see our show, shop in our store, donate to our cause).

Figure out what needs to be said and think of that message visually. Here are some great examples to inspire your design.

Do Your Research
Now that you have an idea of what you want to say, look into what’s already been said about that topic. Learn the backstory to the most successful campaigns similar to your own and why they worked.

First isn’t Always Best
Your first idea may be get you rolling, but it’s probably not going to be the one that wins out in the end. Take the time you need to brainstorm more than one idea. Even if you do come back to the first one, at least you’ll have explored the possibilities and may be able to use other ideas to refine the first one.

Take your ideas around the office to get initial reactions from coworkers or peers. You don’t have to rule anything out, necessarily, but you can use their input to inform next steps.

RIS Can Help
If you’re in charge of redesigning your company web site or laying out a complex brochure, RIS will come in handy. It stands for “response, imagery, solution” and is a way to remember to break your work out into three stages:

• Response: how do you want viewers/browsers to feel when they encounter your work? If you’re creating a site for a charity, you may want to have viewers feel empowered to help, for a museum you may be going for a feeling of piqued interest and inspiration to visit.
• Imagery: Choose visuals that elicit that particular feeling. Consider everything about the imagery from color and texture to graphics and photography.
• Solution: Develop your design using what you’ve learned and collected. Share your design to make sure others have the same emotional reaction that you do.

Hire a Professional
Some projects call for experience in order to be successful. If the project you’re working on just isn’t coming together the way you’d like, it may be best to call in a pro. With experience and training, professional designers can often get to the heart of a campaign quickly. A good designer should be able to present you with ideas that reflect your company’s ethics, standards, style and vision. At times, that can worth the investment.


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