Created 1st November 2013
A good graphic design agency understands good graphic design. It’s transparent and conveys a clear message. A good graphic designer knows exactly how to lead the eye to the call-to-action on the page. They also take the tastes of the intended target audience into account to produce a design that’s appealing to that section of the public. By contrast, bad graphic design distracts and confuses the eye and says more about the personal taste of the designer than the target audience.
“Bad graphic design distracts and confuses the eye and says more about the personal taste of the designer than the target audience.”
If you’re a client, how do you know if the design you’re presented with is doing the job you need it to? As with all disciplines, graphic design has a language which helps the designer communicate with their audience, and it’s useful to be familiar with it. To help you, here’s an Oxygen guide to the principles of good graphic design.
Good graphic design principle #1 – focal point
The viewer may only glance at a poster or webpage for a split second before moving on. The only way to capture the eye’s attention is to have a strong focal point. A design without a strong focal point looks weak, confusing and unappealing. The eye doesn’t know where to go first and will wander about aimlessly.
The golden rule with focal points is only to have one. A good graphic designer will remove superfluous design elements to increase the impact of the focal point and highlight the central message. However, if several objects are needed on a single web page for instance, the designer will group them so that together they form a single focal point.
A useful technique is the ‘rule of thirds’. This tells you where to place your focal point for most impact, and holds true for the placement of the focal point within an image too. To find the best placement, divide your page into thirds both vertically and horizontally. Place your focal point anywhere that two lines intersect for a pleasing result.
Good graphic design principle #2 – flow
The client needs each webpage, brochure page or poster to convey a message. It may be about raising awareness of a product or service, or prompting the customer to call into the showroom, or getting them to subscribe to a newsletter or simply asking them to order then and there. A good graphic designer will arrange all the elements of the design so that they lead the eye towards the ‘order now’ or the ‘click here to find out more’ button.
Sometimes this is as simple as having the lines of a photo flowing to the right or left. At other times, the designer will use various elements to ‘bounce’ the eye across the page via a visual path to where it needs to be to get the message the client wants to convey. Creating a visual path is particularly important on webpages where navigation and text blocks can get in the way of flow. A good design helps the viewer to make decisions and to find their way around the site easily.
Good graphic design principle #3 – contrast
Our eyes like contrast because it helps us to make objects out. Contrast gives good graphic design strength and saves it from feeling ‘wishy washy’. That’s because something that is only a little different looks like a mistake. Something that’s very obviously different looks like a deliberate statement.
There are several ways that the designer can provide contrast. The obvious ones are areas of light and dark, or of pin-sharp images against plain or blurry backgrounds. Alternatively contrast can be added by putting bright colours against muted ones, or by using texture against untextured elements. Another way of generating contrast is to use empty space around text and images.
Good graphic design principle #4 – balance
A design which doesn’t contain balance is uncomfortable to look at. Each element on a page contains a particular visual weight. This is determined by its size and shape, colour and brightness. And each element needs to sit well with all the others.
Formal (or symmetrical) balance is most useful in situations where the designer needs to convey authority, for instance with a political campaign or when showcasing a classical building. Informal (or asymmetrical) balance deliberately weights one side of the design to produce an emotional response to the visual tension and provoke interest. Designers use scale, contrast, shape, positioning and colour to achieve an informal balance in their designs.
Good graphic design principle #5 – perspective
This isn’t talked about much as graphic design is regarded as a 2D medium. However, using the rules of perspective really enhances the impact of a design. That’s because it makes designs more interesting, and also because adding depth draws on the way we see the world to make the image more inherently engaging.
Good graphic designers utilise depth of field by giving the impression of distance by making the background seem distant from the objects they want the viewer to focus on. One way to do this is to use Gaussian blur to bring certain elements of a design into softer focus. Designers can also draw on lines of perspective to give images depth, and use receding ‘cooler’ colours in backgrounds to make them appear to ‘pull away’ from the main image.
Good graphic design principle #6 – unity
Just finally it’s really important that the design is cohesive. A good graphic designer will keep a strong colour theme, and use complimentary fonts and photos that are similar in look to keep the design unified. That way the design doesn’t appear ‘dotty’ and everything comes together harmoniously to convey the desired message.
A good design will grab the viewer immediately even if they don’t know why. If you need the skills of our award-winning graphic design agency in Devon then give Oxygen a call today on 0845 2606 255. We’ll make you stand out from the crowd.