Being creative is one of the most important traits for a digital entrepreneur. The best way to obtain maximum engagement and communicate your vision is through snazzy graphic design and powerful visuals.
A staggering 94 percent of users will leave a website that has bad graphic design, with visual appeal being assessed within just 50 milliseconds. The average attention span of a web user is a measly 6.8 seconds, so it’s vital to catch their eye in what little time you have.
One of the most common of misconceptions however, is that graphic design and creativity is time-consuming and difficult. But that doesn’t have to be the case at all.
Here are eight simple graphic design quick wins, to either develop your existing creativity or help you learn something new.
Recommended reading: The Power of Visual Elements on Your Blog
Use a professional’s know-how and seek inspiration everywhere
Unsure where to begin? Be curious.
Why not watch a few YouTube tutorials to teach yourself some nifty design tricks? There are plenty of channels where professional graphic designers share their talents with an audience for free.
Here are two of the best channels out there:
- The Futur: Tutorials on user experience design, identity and branding.
- Satori Graphics: Outlines the best free design resources and tutorials from a professional agency with over 7 years in the industry.
Use the right design tools
Once you have learned some basic design skills, it’s time to put them to the test. Yet finding the right design tool for the job can be daunting and confusing.
Fortunately, it is now easier than ever to design something of a consistent and professional quality thanks to online design tools.
- Snappa: A snappy graphics tools that makes it easy to design custom graphics for web and social (no design experience needed)
- Shopify Logo Generator: An invaluable design tool. It allows you to generate a logo within 60 seconds. Check out some examples below:
Typography is one of the most important elements of visual design — it helps to reel your reader in and keep them reading. Knowing your fonts and understanding where to use them can help convey messages stronger than the words themselves.
Think of the Guardian. The use of a soft, sophisticated yet authoritative Egyptian typeface helps convey some of the most important and sensitive stories in the world.
Typography is a way of holding your audience’s attention, even when the text is mundane. It is a way of visually displaying information hierarchy and with time – instant recognition for your brand, just like that of the Guardian today.
Check out this post to find out more about the powers of typography.
Less is more
If there is one tip that you take away from this post, it should be this one: less is more.
Don’t try to apply all of your design knowledge and hacks to your website at once — it can end up looking crowded and complicated to your customers. Try to stick to a few simple concepts, and remember that the most professional-looking websites look clean and balanced.
You should aim to be attractive but also practical: provide the necessary information where your customers would expect to find it.
Here are a few points to remember about sticking to a simple design:
- Give elements space! Just like us, each visual element needs some personal space to allow it to breathe and do its job
- Don’t pile colours and textures on top of each other — use contrast to highlight the most important elements
- Use simple backgrounds
There are plenty of benefits to minimalistic design — have a look at this post for an interesting look into the “less is more” approach.
The power of ‘whitespace’
Whitespace, otherwise known as negative space, is the empty space around important visual elements on a design or page. Designer Jeffery Zeldman said: “90 percent of design is typography, the other 90 percent is whitespace.”
Obviously, the maths is totally out, but aside from that — words to live by.
Including whitespace on your website or online store dramatically enhances your user experience. It helps to guide the user around your site, create visual hierarchies, and can increase comprehension by up to 20%.
When used correctly, your brand and message will be communicated much more clearly when using minimalistic techniques. Look at this homepage by Hugo Boss for example:
Whitespace does not simply have to be white, of course. As with the navigation bar on the Hugo Boss website, black space is contrasted with white text — creating a traditional negative look.
Be responsive: stay relevant
By 2020, an estimated 6.1 billion people will own a mobile device. Staying up-to-date with contemporary trends and tailoring your designs to all devices is important to stay relevant.
You can create a beautiful, responsive website with numerous hosts without trawling through lines of code.
Take a look at these examples of Australian business for sale on Exchange — all of these online stores were created on Shopify, which provides easily customisable templates for your store. So you don’t have to worry about learning about HTML or being a coding whizz.
Once you have a website and you need to know how it performs on a mobile device, try this free tool from Google.
Illustrate information with visuals
Graphic design is all about visuals. If you can communicate your vision in as little words as possible, the more successful you will be.
Why? Visuals are apparently processed 60,000 times faster than text.
Use infographics to convey messages without text. Do this and people are way more likely to remember your content and brand. You can use Canva, Piktochart or Venngage to get started. They’re all web-based and free to use.
Stay on brand when designing visual content
Consistency is key when it comes to graphic design.
Try to use the same typeface, similar house-style and colours. This will, in turn, make your brand more recognisable and visually appealing. Remember to consider your audience — if they don’t think you look professional and impressive, they just won’t buy from you.
Make a brand strategy and stick to it. If you’ve got a team, then create a set of brand guidelines and a social media policy to ensure continuity. This means that when multiple people are managing your social channels, you won’t end up with irrelevant images and a mixed tone of voice.
It is easy to get lost in an abyss of design tools, colours, fonts and techniques. Using these tricks will help you achieve some great results without the faff.
The most important thing to remember is to seek inspiration and keep it simple. Have a look what the top brands are doing and how they do it. Then have a little play around to see what works best for you.
*** This Guest Post was from Patrick Foster***
Patrick Foster is a writer and ecommerce expert from Ecommerce Tips — an industry-leading ecommerce blog dedicated to sharing practical business advice and entrepreneurial insights from the sector. Check out the latest news on Twitter @myecommercetips.