5 Design Tips For Non-Designers – Creating When You’re Not Creative
If you’re a small business, though, design can feel like a confusing and costly time-waster. But it’s anything but a waste of time. A consistent, attractive design shows your customers that you care about your branding. It can also create a cohesive brand that shows your personality and lifestyle.
But how can you create a brand or website design if you’re not creative?
We’re huge design nerds here at Seller’s Choice. So we’ve gathered up our 5 easiest design tips that can help you have a more unified and engaging creative strategy in no time.
1. Choose two typefaces.
A non-designer may be looking at this and saying “don’t you mean font?” Typefaces are the families in which fonts actually fall under, so the typeface called Avenir has multiple fonts that it encompasses including Avenir Bold and Avenir Italic.
Typeface is actually one of the greatest defining factors of your brand. Consumers unconsciously associate different typefaces and fonts with different meanings. For example, Comic Sans has a more childlike and unprofessional feeling, while Times New Roman is more professional and trustworthy but may be cumbersome to read on-screen. Choosing to italicize or bold certain words can completely change the meaning of a sentence.
When they read your content, they’re getting the visual aesthetic from your typeface. So make sure they have the right association in mind.
What do you need to consider when choosing a typeface?
- Is this readable? Can I easily read each letter?
- Is this typeface too thin or too bold? Is it too condensed or too spread out?
- How do the letters blend with one another?
- Does this fit with the image our brand is trying to convey?
- Will this typeface work in both digital and print?
- Is this typeface compatible? Will I be able to use it on a variety of platforms, like Microsoft Word as well as Canva?
You’ll also want to note whether it’s a Serif or Sans Serif typeface. Serif typefaces tend to be better for small body copy sizes, while Sans Serif typefaces are best for large titles. We typically recommend picking one staple Serif typeface for everyday copy and content as well as one Sans Serif typeface for headings and bold promotions.
As you start to look at typefaces, they’ll likely all start to look the same. Selecting a typeface is a complex (and sometimes confusing) process. But ultimately it comes down to the brand that you feel most comfortable with. Which typeface will you use for your daily correspondence in the office? What typeface feels most like it would be your brand’s handwriting? That’s the one you choose!
Some of the most popular typefaces for branding include:
- Gotham: it has a satisfyingly symmetrical, geometric feel
- Avenir: it’s light, clean, and easy to read
- Futura: it has a modern simplicity that appeals to most brands
- Helvetica: it’s bolder while still easy to read
Some of the least popular typefaces include:
- Papyrus: it feels fake and overplayed, and customers quickly tire of it
- Times New Roman: it’s not the most approachable or friendly font
- Comic Sans: it seems too childish and whimsical
- Anything “condensed”: it’s too hard to read, especially on a mobile screen
Here at Seller's Choice, our favorite tool to help pick typeface combinations is called FontJoy, it shows you how your title and copy interact and helps you pair two that are a match made in design heaven.
2. Create a color scheme.
Color is the most noticeable aspects of your brand. If you think of McDonald’s, you think of red and yellow. If you think of Oreo cookies, you think of their deep blue and white packaging.
The colors you choose become the basis of your branding. It allows people to recognize and remember your brand, which is essential for developing long-term and lasting impressions.
So how do you choose the right colors?
Understand common color associations.Red: passion, power, fierceness, visibility
- Orange: energetic, warm, playfulness, creativity
- Yellow: positivity, warmth, spontaneity, attention-grabbing
- Green: growth, freshness, eco-friendliness, wealth
- Blue: trustworthy, loyal, tranquil, stability
- Purple: royalty, luxury, mystery, sophistication
- Pink: feminine, delicateness, softness, appreciation
- Brown: nature, utility, neutrality, richness
- Black: elegance, authority, intelligence, emotional
What kind of image do you want your brand to represent?
Select the tone.
Once you choose a color, you’ll need to consider the different types of tones, tints, and shades. Do you want bright yellow or pastel yellow? Lavender or lilac? These subtle nuances matter. The tone you pick can help determine how engaged your audience will be with that color palette.
Create an overall color scheme.
Monochromatic color schemes use one color in a variety of tints and shades. This could mean you use mint green as your basis color, and everything along that green tone is in your color palette. These tend to create a more subtle and understated look.
Analogous color palettes use colors that are next to each other on the color wheel and are in the same “family.” For example, you might use two cool colors (blue and purple) or two warm colors (red and yellow). These schemes have a relaxed and attractive look.
Complementary color palettes use colors opposite on color wheel, like one cool color and one warm color (blue and red). These tend to have a bold and engaging look.
Here at Seller's Choice, we love using Coolors to find the best color combination or to test some out on the eyes, seeing them next to each other can change your opinion significantly!
Test the colors.
Rarely do brands change their colors. Even when IHOP pretended to change to IHOB, they maintained their same coloring. That’s because people most associate a brand with its colors.
That means once you pick your colors, you’re stuck with the. The best way to avoid picking the “wrong” colors is to test them with your audience before committing! Ask a sample or focus group of your potential consumers which logo and color they are most drawn to. This data can help make sure your design not only matches your brand but also your audience.
Don’t pick colors you like. Pick colors that your personified brand likes.
We gave you a brief overview, but you can learn more specifics about color psychology here.
3. Go for a grid layout.
Grids are basically just “boxes” of content. They can be even and symmetrical or irregular and asymmetrical based on the imagery inside.
For example, you might have a large box at the top followed by a “table” of three by three boxes on the bottom. This is a great way to start with a header image and text with supplemental images to support the header.
Grids are a fundamental staple of composition in the designer handbook. We love “going grid” for our photographs and design. They help you organize imagery and text in an aesthetically pleasing way. They create a less cluttered layout that promotes a visual hierarchy. The grid directs your customer to a specific area on the page, creating a flow based on the way the grid is laid out.
Not only do they draw the viewer’s eye, but they are also an efficient and easy way to finish your designs. You have the grid design ready to go, and you just insert relevant images and text as needed. This creates a sort of “drag and drop” process that makes design layout a breeze.
You’ll likely start noticing grids in any design you look at today. They’re on website homepages, in magazines, and even in email marketing campaigns. The more you see them, the more you’ll start to realize how useful they are for design!
4. Maintain consistency.
The greatest benefit of the grid is consistency. It can be challenging to make sure all of your web pages and designs look and feel the same—but that consistency is what creates a brand. A grid will bring your photographs and images together in a more cohesive way, no matter where you put them.
Using the same typefaces and color scheme also help create this consistency. No matter where your customer comes upon your brand, they’ll be able to recognize it instantly by the combination of distinctive colors, typefaces, and layout.
The best way to create brand consistency is by building a visual library. This includes everything like logo, typeface, typefaces, colors, and styles. Save all images and files. Create notes of the exact typeface type and size and specific color schemes. Use a color “dropper” to make sure you’re getting the same color each time.
Make this library accessible to everyone who works in design, marketing, or sales. Having a place with all of the design information saves you from guessing or inconsistencies, and it saves time whenever you want to create another piece of visual content.
When in doubt, source it out. Design is critical to your branding, but it is a lengthy and drawn-out process. So don’t waste time doing it yourself, especially if you’re not a pro in design.
Hiring someone who knows what they’re doing is the most effective and successful way to create a brand design that you’ll love.
We don’t typically recommending hiring a freelancer for a one-and-done project, though. They don’t have any stake in your business, so they’ll just follow your basic instructions to create something you only sort-of like.