Simplicity – The Hardest Thing A Graphic Designer Can Learn
This post is an expansion of tip #43 in our post 101 Graphic Design Tips for Business Success.
This Isn’t Abstract Art!
One of the hardest things you learn as a Graphic Designer is to simplify. It’s easy to fill a page with information, colors, and graphical treatments. Anyone can do that. The first thing we learn in school is how to operate filters in Photoshop and create garish word art. While they might be fun school projects, most clients won’t pay for that cool psychedelic landscape you painfully created.
Now, simplicity doesn’t mean that the design was easy to create, by any means…but, what it does mean is that if the presentation is so busy or flashy that there is no reference to the focal point, or it’s hard to find the meaning behind the design because of complexity, there’s a big problem… This isn’t abstract art!
Restraint is a subtle skill, the more you use restraint, the more sophisticated your work will become. Study Swiss Design to master simplicity at it’s best. Practice organizing your content into a Swiss Grid system. There are many templates available online that you can use. While it might seem rigid and restrictive at first, you will soon find out that it is commercially and visually appealing to many people.
Think Of Your Page As A Fish Bowl
Organize text first and then add in your images last. This will keep you from falling into the trap of treating your text as secondary and designing around the image. You can always go in and coordinate and tweak after you have added your images. Organize your images to gravitate the eye to the important information. You should be able to almost draw a line directionally from one corner to the opposite corner without falling off of the page.
Pair down your font choices to one or two font families and treatments. Create a set of colors that you want to use, makes sure they are in harmony with the rest of your piece. And as always, leave plenty of negative space. Make sure your text breathes and has plenty space around it. Your logo and contact information should also have adequate spacing.
Think of your page as a fish bowl where everything is living in harmony. Would you prefer to see so many fish swimming around that they are suffocating together or just a few healthy, happy fish with plenty of space?