Good graphic design is both art and strategy; it’s an art form with a business purpose. It is often considered a subcategory of visual communication, but sometimes the term “graphic design” is used interchangeably due to overlapping skills involved. Graphic designers use various methods to create and combine words, symbols, and images to create a visual representation of ideas and messages. A graphic designer may use a combination of typography, visual arts and page layout techniques to produce a final result. Graphic design often refers to both the process (designing) by which the communication is created and the products (designs) which are generated. Source: wikipedia.org
For example graphic design could refer to branding. This is a design and development of company’s (or products and services) logo, which may also include a development of branding guidelines. Graphic design in page layout is a process used in publishing magazines and newspapers. Graphic design is also a skill used in website design and development.
12 Basic Graphic Design Rules And Tips To Keep In Mind
1) Don’t reinvent the wheel for the sake of being different
There’s a reason for most design rules beyond taste and opinion. If something is tried and true, and it works, don’t change it without a very good reason.
2) Start with good idea
Polishing a bad design will only go so far. It takes dozens bad ideas to come up with a one good one. Don’t fall in love with your design only to have to justify it to your client. Be willing to throw ideas out and restart.
3) Brainstorm your ideas
Share your initial designs ideas. Even if you don’t use any of the input, just talking about the options and explaining your work will spark new directions for you. Know your own feelings, the reasons why you did something, about the design and be clear with yourself about what works for you and what doesn’t.
4) Make sure to design for your target audience
This is so obvious, and yet, so many times I have seen inappropriate design elements, colors and fonts in a design targeted for a specific group. The design for a concert poster for children’s play will have to use a very different approach if it’s target audience is the children the if it’s their parents.
5) Stop using too many typefaces
A typeface (also known as font family) is a set of one or more fonts each composed of glyphs that share common design features. Each font of a typeface has a specific weight, style, condensation, width, slant, italicization, ornamentation, and designer or foundry (and formerly size, in metal fonts). Read my posts about typefaces here.
6) The beauty or the power of a good design is often in its simplicity
If you don’t have a very good reason to use a certain font, a shape or a certain color to be in your design, delete it. Don’t fill in the space in your design with “stuff” just to make it “interesting”.
7) Use the “white” space to your advantage
The empty space in a page layout (or any graphic design) is called the white space. The balance of a good design often depends on the relationship between the graphic (or typographical) elements and the white space around them. As a matter of fact, you can give power to an element in your design with the white space associated with it. White space is not empty space!
8) Be mindful of good typography
These days with the software we use for graphic design, it’s easy to forget about some good basic typographical rules. Don’t use all caps in any text, which is longer then 2-4 words. Legibility is the key. By aware of letter spacing, line spacing as well as word spacing. The default setting within your software is good, but not 100% perfect. Use the correct alignments. Never use justified text in web design. And check what Widows and Orphans are when it comes to typography. You don’t want them in your design. See my post What is a Serif: Typography lesson 2.
9) Do not stretch fonts or images
This no-no happens so often. Sizing fonts and images disproportionally will stretch them; it will make them looking wrong. Make sure to use the proper software tools to size images and fonts without stretching them.
10) Be aware of the difference between pixel and vector files
Photographic image files are made of pixels. If you enlarge them beyond their proper resolution, you will start seeing the pixels; which will make the images looking blurry. Familiarize yourself with proper file resolutions depending on the media where the design will be used (print vs. web for example). Properly created logos have been done using vector graphics (like Adobe Illustrator). Vectors have no pixel resolution and can be enlarged without loosing sharpness.
11) Use grids
Be aware of how every element relates to every other element within the design (or a page). Grids are very important when you are working on a book, magazine, or web page, but there is also an invisible grid of alignment linking every visual element. When you break the grid and allow elements to tilt or straddle two columns, do it with purpose so that it is clear that it is a conscious choice.
12) The quality of your graphic design is in details
Be diligent in your decision-making — there is a difference between Arial and Helvetica and you should know why you choose one over the other. Choose the right color for the right reason, not because it’s pretty. Different colors have their meaning. See my post about colors here.