Design doesn’t always have to be complicated. With a couple of guidelines in mind, you can create something great without being a designer. Hey busy solopreneur, this is for you! Not everybody has the money to invest in professional design. And not every tiny graphic or image you want to post to social media needs to be designed by a pro. You want to get your message across first. But still, it also needs to look attractive. How to do this? If you want your designs to look professional use my quick design tips to tweak your next design and see the difference.
Design tip #1: Composition
The first thing you need to do when you open a new canvas and before you start creating, is thinking about composition. How will you arrange the elements inside your design? Most design software lets you use guides and grids. These are your points of orientation. You don’t want your design to be all over the place. It needs to be clear. When your design is composed and thought through it’ll instantly leave a more professional impression.
So before you start, set yourself some guides or lay a grid over your canvas. This helps you to identify focus points like the center or top right corner. It also lets you see the space between elements. Same goes for the space between an element and the border of your canvas. Think about how you divide a text into paragraphs to create order. Or you align your text left, center, or right. With your design elements, it’s similar. The space between elements should be the same if they belong together. Further, you can define lines on which you can place several elements.
Design tip #2: Color
The second design tip is all about color. Color is often used to create contrast. Contrasting colors are eye-catching and will make your design stand out. They are also easy to remember. That’s why this tip is also great to know if you’re looking to define your brand colors.
The most contrast you can create with color is by using complementary colors. Complementary colors are colors which lie opposite of each other on the color wheel. Being exact opposites they’re perfect for this purpose. Combinations are red + green or orange + blue.
Related post: The basics of color theory
Design tip #3: Text
Your text needs to be first and foremost readable. There’s no sense in picking a font which looks creative and really fancy when nobody can make out what it says in your graphic.
But besides from picking a font that’s clear and readable, you can take this up a notch. If you want your design to look more professional pay attention to line-heights. Standard line-height in design software is often not perfect right from the get-go. Setting your line-height to 120 or 130% will increase readability. Your text will look more elegant and less like just squeezed in there.
Related post: 14 typography rules for beginners
Design tip #4: Photos
The last one of my design tips also makes the biggest difference. Photos can make or break your design. A great photo says more than words. But it needs to be clear what you want to say. Low-quality photos are an absolute no-go. Nothing screams louder “rookie” than having low resolution, shaky, or badly edited photos in your design.
The solution to this is very simple. Set a high standard for your photos. If you don’t have the skills or equipment to take your photos yourself, use stock photos. Sign-up to my newsletter and you can get access to free stock photos immediately. And if you don’t have the right photos you can get creative and use a colored background or pattern for your design. Always better using no photo at all than using a bad one.
Want more? Ask your design questions in the comments or leave us one of your design tips.