Thinking about earning a diploma in graphic design? Wondering if you've got the raw talent needed to do well in training, and build a successful career in this field?
Here's your chance to test your natural design instincts. You might not know all the technical jargon yet, but if you love the art of design, you probably have a good feeling for basic do's and don'ts.
These are 7 simple graphic design rules you'll learn about in class, and put into practice creating a wide range of projects for your student portfolio.
Let's see how many of these principles are already second nature for you.
1. Pick a focal point for each design
When you take a picture, you usually have a person, place, or thing you're looking to highlight, right? Maybe it's your cat doing something hilarious. Maybe it's your best friend at their birthday party.
It's natural to set up the photo so the thing you're trying to capture really stands out. The same is true in graphic design.
One of the first decisions you'll make when creating a new design is what the focal point will be. It could be a product, a person, an image, a phrase, etc. No matter what, you'll arrange all the other elements to enhance, and draw attention to that focal point. Just like when you're taking a photograph.
2. Don't crowd your design with too many elements
In graphic design, "white space" is your best friend. When too many elements are jumbled together, your audience will simply look away. It will be too confusing to sort through it all, find the focal point, and figure out the main message being communicated.
Ensuring there is plenty of negative space around text and visuals helps create balance and harmony in your compositions (key principles you'll learn more about in graphic design training).
Think about some of the world's most iconic logos—like Apple and Nike. Those are incredibly simple designs with tons of white space. In graphic design, less is usually more.
3. Readability is everything!
Whether you're designing for web or print, readability is a top priority. You need to choose fonts that are easy to decipher, and make sure text is big enough and clear enough to read without effort.
Imagine a website homepage where you have to struggle to read the menu. Or a poster that doesn't clearly communicate the product or event. What's the point? You'll only irritate your audience.
And never forget, you only have a few seconds to capture someone's attention. If your design isn't instantly readable, you won't get a second chance.
But this just makes good sense. If you have good design instincts, you'll naturally prioritize readability when putting together new concepts.
4. Don't go crazy with colours and fonts
There are definitely examples of amazing graphic designs that break these rules. But, when you're first starting out, you'll want to hold back on mixing too many fonts and colours in a single design.
Obviously, this will be distracting and confusing for your audience. Where do they look first? What are you trying say? Why are they suddenly getting a headache?
You're better off choosing just a few colours that work well together, and 2-3 fonts, max—at least at first, while you're still learning the fundamentals. Once you've mastered the rules, you can get away with breaking a few.
Once you get into graphic design school, you'll learn all about the different font families, how to control type in your designs, and really develop your typography skills.
5. Always use high quality images
Have you noticed how some images get blurry and pixilated when you try to enlarge them? Those are called raster or bitmap images. If you need an image to maintain its integrity when enlarged, you'll want to use a vector graphic instead.
Vectors can be scaled up without losing quality. And crystal clear, high quality images are essential in graphic design. Your graphic design training will include detailed instruction on how to create and work with vectors using Adobe Illustrator.
6. Proofread everything...twice
Nothing kills your credibility as a designer faster than typos. Imagine spelling a product or brand name wrong. Or having a grammatical error in a line of text.
Mistakes are human, and they're going to happen. Your best bet is to have someone proofread your composition before you submit it. Look it over carefully yourself, and then enlist a fresh pair of eyes. You can't be too careful!
Having to correct something after it's been printed a thousand times, or goes live online, can be costly and seriously embarrassing.
7. Design for your target audience (not just for yourself)
You probably have your own personal preferences when it comes to design style. That's completely normal—and it's actually beneficial to have a strong point of view when developing creative ideas.
However, you may need to put those preferences aside when designing content for clients. Their business goals, wants, and needs must always come first.
Let's say you love the latest, super-edgy website design trends, but your client really wants to go with something more conservative.
Or, you'd love to do an abstract design for some product packaging, but research shows the target audience would respond better to something more straightforward.
At the end of the day, the audience must come first. Talented designers know how to take great design ideas and make them work for each client.
They tailor their abilities to the goals of each campaign or project they work on, to ensure their final product gets the best possible result. It's all about being as adaptive as possible—and always putting your client first.
We could go on, but by now, you probably have a good idea of how strong your design instincts are. Do all (or most) of these graphic design rules seem intuitive to you? Just common sense?
Sounds like you're an ideal candidate for a career in graphic design. Which means we'd love to hear from you!
Learn more about graphic design training
If you're ready to learn more about earning a graphic design diploma, we suggest getting in touch with an Admissions Advisor.
You can discuss your interests, background, and career goals, and see if this program is right for you. An Advisor can also walk you through admission requirements, costs, financial aid, and class schedules.
Click below to get started. Explore Herzing's Graphic Design Program and chat live with an Advisor. We're here to help!