17 Graphic Design Tips All Non-Designers Need to Know

13. Add text over images by adjusting brightness levels

When your design involves putting text over images, adjust the brightness level of the background image or add a color overlay. This way the background image will offset the color of the text, causing the text to be readable and the design to still look clean and clear.

14. Carefully structure your body copy

Whenever you have a body of text (i.e. paragraphs), each line should have no more than approximately 30-40 characters. That includes spaces too, so choose carefully. If you exceed this approximate length, you run the risk of sentences becoming hard for readers to get through. And any shorter, and your lines of text begin to resemble Tetris pieces, falling carelessly in an erratic stream.

15. Think about who you’re designing for

Unless this is purely for your own personal enjoyment, you’re probably designing for a specific audience. Never forget that “who” that you’re designing for. This ensures you create something that the intended audience for your design actually wants to see and something they’ll react favorably to.

Context matters here. A dark, dingy, even creepy looking design – for example – wouldn’t be the sort of thing that you’d want to have on a website for an upscale, expensive product. The same would be true for example, with a design that feels too “childish” (in its light colors, use of squiggly lines, cartoons, etc.) for a mature adult audience.

16. Let form follow function

As much as you’ve heard it said, it’s still undeniably true – form follows function. So make sure you know the function of your design. Knowing that you’ll be able to more easily come to a form that works. You’ll have a better sense of what belongs in the design and what doesn’t.

A splash page, for example, that’s designed to only collect emails in the run-up to a launch probably doesn’t need a carousel with images. When we had our initial sign-up period – we didn’t use items that complicated our initial website. Rather, we tailored the form of the site to its function – which was getting people’s emails. These great design examples also utilized this rule to increase conversion rates and improve user experience.

All of this comes down to knowing the “why” of your design. And thinking carefully as well.

17. Keep it simple

Have you ever seen a movie – superhero movies and scifi epics come to mind – that has too many special effects. Too many explosions, speeding spaceships, giant robots, and so on. Eventually the special effects just blur together and mute out most of what’s going on elsewhere in the movie. (We’re looking at you, Transformers.) It’s the same with your design. If you overdo it with too many special effects like shadows and tint gradients, you’ll quickly move toward a bloated and aesthetically muted image.

You can still use some design “special effects”. But sprinkle them by the handful onto your design, as you might with a bit of balsamic vinegar on a salad. Too much balsamic and it negates the salad. And too many special effects and it negates the rest of your design.


As you can see, graphic design doesn’t have to be hard. Just follow these 17 tips and you’ll be well on your way to producing great images online.

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