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8 Simple Rules to Design Your Next Creative

Generating content at work is the name of the game for many of us in marketing and this game is only getting bigger progressively. Be it PowerPoint presentations, pdfs, blogs, landing pages, brochures, infographics etc.; so what makes your content stand out from the rest of the crowd? With the advent of social media and metrics analysis, it has become a trend to track your followers, views and visits. So how do you capture your target audience, keep them engaged and generate those big numbers?

From my experience in web and print design over the last few years, I have narrowed it down to the following rules that make your creative content look professional and ready for the global stage:

Where’s your “C” in Design

Make sure your design is content-centric. The design is only meant to showcase the content in the most appropriate/creatively appropriate manner. The most common mistake made by beginners is that they create the design first, something they like and then try to fit the content in. This approach may seem easier, and may not require a lot of thought, but this may create a huge gap between what the content is trying to say and what is actually shown and may eventually reduce the credibility of the article to being questionable at best. Let us look at the examples given below. The one on the left is more subtle and meaningful and stays true to its content whereas the one on the right looks cluttered and absurd.

8 simple rules of design - Picture 1

No story? Who’s listening?

Articles are meant to talk to people.  And to keep them interested, a story needs to be told. This applies to design as well. There needs to be a flow, a sequence of events or a number of transitions that coincides with the flow as the content unfolds.

8 simple rules of design - picture 2

Do your colors splash or crash?

Colors play a very important role in design. Striking the right balance between dark and light colors can very well control how your collateral captures your audience’s attention. To make things simple let us look at these two examples shown below. Which side looks better? Left or right? Wrong choice of colors can really disappoint and sometimes, may even annoy your viewer and in such cases, your article will be lost in the oblivion almost immediately. The colors of the same images have been tweaked and now the results are far more crisp and legible.8 simple rules of design - picture 3

Align not just yourself

Aligning yourself with the project might be great but what’s the point really if your collateral is not as organized as you are with your tasks. Software like Photoshop and Illustrator let you select your layers and objects and have an option for their alignment. Nobody likes a cluttered presentation and the need for alignment becomes more essential as the size of the content increases. For a PowerPoint presentation, it is best to have an image and 4 lines on each slide. Short and sweet is the way to go. Try not to lower the font size below 10 unless it is really necessary.

8 simple rules of design - picture 4No strokes for a few special folks

This simple trick can make your slides look professional. Especially with PowerPoint. The stroke settings have been shown below for Illustrator, PowerPoint and Photoshop. Go to these settings and remove the strokes.

8 simple rules of design - picture 5Especially with PowerPoint, whenever you insert a shape, select it and remove its shape outline and use only shape fill. Do away with 3D effects as flat deign is the flavor of the season. From the two examples given below, you can judge which one looks better yourself.

8 simple rules of design - picture 6

Choose your font; Chase your fortunes

The title speaks for itself. One of the most crucial decisions you will have to take is selecting the right font for your article or landing page or any type of work that has text in it. The least you can do here is make the font contextual with the type of content you generate.

Let’s face it. Serif fonts are out and sans serif is in. Even Google, who had managed to carry forward its serif logo for what felt like eternity, has finally moved over to sans serif. Also, they have let go of their drop shadow effect which reiterates my previous statement about flat design being the flavor of this season. Google did it with a minimalistic but perfectly executed gif image with precisely timed transitions.

 google's logo transformation

Test the latest

Bell-bottoms aren’t cool anymore and anybody seen in them would most likely be sneered at with guffaws and grins. This applies to design as well. Find out what’s trending.  And get inspired! Take time to look at plenty of designs and think of the approach you would take if you had to design something along those lines.

Here are a few awe-inspiring sites you must definitely lay your eyes on.

www.smashingmagazine.com

www.hongkiat.com

www.behance.net

http://www.siteinspire.com/

http://designspiration.net/

http://www.webdesign-inspiration.com/

Your X factor

Now that your article has been inspired by the latest trends and techniques, only one question remains to be answered. Where is your insignia? That one twist that truly makes the article yours. Coming up with an answer for this could really help you brand yourself over the long run and acquire a style of approach.  But do hit the refresh button once in a few years.

My X-factor can be found on www.bridgei2i.com, one of the websites I have designed and one of the brighter feathers in my cap.

Author: Manish Mahadevan, Marketing Consultant at BRIDGEi2i

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position or viewpoint of BRIDGEi2i.

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