5 Essential Design Tips for the Non-Designer
You don’t need a degree in graphic design or an 8-hour Lynda.com course to be creative. Here are 5 tips to get your branding off the ground.
By Olivia Dello Buono May 27, 2015
As a writer, I can’t believe I’m saying this: Visuals are the foundation of your business. Consistent, empowering branding helps to draw in prospects and keep customers coming back for more. It’s your first opportunity to make an impression.
It’s your brand identity.
When Bad Design Happens to Good People
But how often do we stumble upon a website or blog that suffers from a poor visual aesthetic? …What if it’s our own blog?
An unattractive design can be overwhelming, pulling attention from the content and, ultimately, your value proposition. You could be penning Pulitzer-prize winning material, but if the design is distracting, eyes won’t be on your content.
Building Your Brand Identity
Fear not, design newbies! I come bearing good news. There’s a five-step process that even the most Photoshop-challenged among us can adhere to.
Ready to create a brand you’re proud of?
Identify your brand and its mission
- Pull images, words, visuals that represent your business and where you want it to go.
- Collect them in a folder or create a Pinterest board (PSA: this can get highly addicting).
- Keep tweaking your inspiration board, by adding and culling Pins or images, until you come to what most closely fits your brand at this point. Remember that your brand may change over time and that’s okay! Aim to achieve the most accurate semblance of your current state of brand.
(After careful curation, this is what I came up with for my personal blog.)
- Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but nobody likes a knockoff. Don’t aspire to be the next Apple, Target or Diet Coke. These brands are so successful because they do their own thing. While you can certainly “borrow” elements, find a way to make them uniquely your own.
Type, type, type
- Clean, minimalist fonts translate well on websites and blogs. They lend well to images and don’t detract from your message.
- Think of fun, ornate fonts like candy: They can be part of a balanced “diet”, but should be used sparingly!
- Need a (free) starter kit? Try Google Fonts.
Add in your design elements
- Sites like Stocksy and Creative Market are great resources for pulling images and other graphic elements. While there are definitely a number of sites that offer free content, purchasing your graphics may be the smarter route – there’s a slimmer chance that the market is saturated with the patterns and images you’ve selected.
(A preview of the high-quality images you’ll find on Stocksy.)
- More is not necessarily better. The simpler the design, the easier it will be for people to navigate things like your email sign up form or your ecommerce page.
Host your content
- If you’re just starting out, SquareSpace and WordPress are great for beginners. Blog hosting can get tricky, so it’s best to start simple.
(I love SquareSpace for it’s clean, minimalist templates.)
- Already have a blog? No problem! Start implementing small changes until your website encompasses your brand identity.
Consistency is key
- Your brand identity should be consistent across all channels. Have a Twitter? Instagram? Facebook? Your branding should be fluid throughout.
- Don’t forget the little things: newsletters, printed materials, blog posts… they should all reflect your brand.
Don’t let the design process hinder you from launching a website or blog that you’re proud of. Take your time and remember to have fun!
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