The ground rules required by an individual to be an excellent designer are similar to graphic design rules. However, when you want to specialise, you need to be very aware of the rules and challenges that will make you successful. It’s perfectly acceptable to break these rules occasionally, but it is vital to understand the rules you are breaking to make sure you do it in the right way.
The basic list of rules runs from special effects and colour to typography and layout. The list we’ve put together below outlines some of the ground rules, guides, tricks, tips and common errors you need to banish from your design.
1. Use a consistent font palette
Since the palette of colours exists while designing, you need to be careful with the font palette because fonts usually outline certain emotions or moods. Use fonts that apply to their respective functions and audiences. The basic rule in this field is to use a maximum of three fonts to avoid complicating the design. Ensure that you choose fonts which complement each other to attain a practical or logical design.
2. Avoid discord of colour
In natural language, colour discord is called colour clashing. It occurs when colours that are widely detached on the colour wheel pair. These colours will create a vibrating – or a muddy effect – which makes the eyes struggle to differentiate between the colours. You can use hues with a high contrast degree to avoid colour disharmony. Eyes will pick up the line difference between the colours with little or no muddiness due to an absence of discordant colours.
Designers, like advertisers, lean into colour discord effects because they feel it creates eye-catching designs. Therefore, if you are avoiding colour disharmony, an aesthetically pleasing design is recommended but does not give a leeway of breaking rules of colour in your favour.
3. Do not follow design trends in the market
Designs are like fashion. They come and they go. They can be popular for a time, and then fade out slowly. Like fashion, design can become ineffective and dated. New methods and style become popular for a period of time, and many people opt to follow the trend because it is an easy model to follow. But sooner or later the new trend will become dated in no time.
You need to be careful with trends and know how to differentiate between what is popular and the reason it is popular. Do not use a design that will fade from the market quickly. An analysis of trendy designs will help you to identify what is popular, the reason for its popularity and what you can take from these trends to enhance your design.
4. Learning the rules of grammar
Grammar is quite tricky because there are hidden rules that you may not know you are breaking. So take time to learn grammar design-oriented rules because it will give your design a professional touch. Avoid replacing ‘and’ with ‘&’ because the ampersand is used for organisational names. Rules state that it is correct to use it when designing a logo. The double space error after punctuation can also be fixed easily. One space is enough for designing, but if the display looks squashed, you will have to adjust tracking or consider switching fonts.
There are many grammar rules that designers do not feel are important and that’s to their detriment. Understanding these rules is vital because it can take your design to the next level of attention and professionalism.
5. Do not stuff effects
Every designer knows the fun that word art brings, as it involves the addition of rainbow gradients, dropping shadows, beveling and many other typical effects. However, you need to understand that word art days are over and special effects are not that special anymore.
In the field of communicative designs, more often than not, simple is best. Effects such as shadows, gradients, textures and beveling have their place and time and not always together.
Of course there are some instances where you can’t take out some effects like values, labels and elements. But you need to be careful to retain communication focus. Remember, less is always more.
6. Using the right tools
A designer should be able to know the correct tools to use in some situations – and when not to use them. You need to know how the digital graphics files work. These files are vectors and rasters. Raster graphics consist of a grid of many pixels, while vector graphics are made up of many paths or lines.
So what’s the difference between the vector and the raster you might wonder. Well, the raster can scale the graphic. Since the raster has many pixels, at some scaling point, the image will be pixelated. However, the vector does not have this issue.
Designers of logos love using the vector because it pixelates shapes without losing their sharp edges. Using a raster to make a logo will limit your brand applications. You can avoid making mistakes if you avoid making logos with raster graphics.
7. Taking the right cover
There are varied and many approaches to making design cover but when you are starting a design, it is advisable to start by creating the cover then let it give a preview of what is in the design. There is no basic formula in place for creating a great cover. It involves combining great ideas, the best assets – and giving it a magical touch.
Designing a cover is a collaborative approach, and you will have to take advantage of your editor’s expertise. You will also be able to bounce off several ideas without being afraid that something might not work well.
8. Stay away from italics and scripts
Script fonts are hard to read. You can use scripts if you know the ones which are easy to understand. Otherwise, keep away from scripts. In most cases, italics are a good option for placing emphasis on a document in the place of underlining. While you should never, ever, apply italics in headings, you can use them to pull quotes.
9. Avoid being top heavy
Inexperienced designers seem to be under the impression that article titles always need to be on top of the page. When you look at the history of design, you will notice that designs which have an acclamation have a title in a different place other than the top of the page.
10. Size matters
A headline needs to make a statement. In the world of design, you only have two seconds to grab a reader’s attention. If you miss out, you could potentially lose a customer. To be attention-grabbing, rather than typing a headline, you need to design it. Remember to take into consideration the contrast of typeface, colours and size.
Which leads us to the final rule: in the world of design, there are no rules. But it is crucial to understand design fundamentals.
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