Designer-Speak for Clients Vol. 1: Basic Design Principles

Updated Jan. 12, 2022 Published Sep. 5, 2019 2 Min. Read

Designing is — well — a designer’s job. But as a business owner or marketer, you know your brand, and your target audience, best. When commissioning graphics, you’re the first source of artistic direction.

So while it’s usually best to let your designers take the design wheel, it doesn’t hurt to build up an ability to enter into creative discussions with confidence and clarity. And if you’ve experienced working with remote designers (like we do at Design Pickle!), you know how helpful of being as articulate as possible in your emails is.

Get to know the basic principles of design to boost your designer-speak skills:

1. Balance

A design can be symmetrical or asymmetrical in balance. When a design is symmetrical, it has the same weight on both sides, like a mirror image. When a design looks different throughout, it’s asymmetrical.

2. Proximity

Proximity is the relationship between multiple elements. Two elements don’t have to be beside each other to have this visual “relationship.” They can relate to one another in other ways, like with similar fonts or colors.

3. Alignment

When different elements are grouped along a single line, they become visually connected. For example, this article’s text is aligned left. If each line of text started somewhere different, it would be incredibly difficult to read. Alignment means harmony and order, but of course, you can play with it to get different effects.

4. Repetition

When a similar element is used repetitively throughout one design, or even throughout a series of design, it creates unity and coherence. For example, pops of red, or the use of circles or triangles.

5. Visual Hierarchy

Visual hierarchy refers to what your eye is first drawn too when you look at a design. Ad material is designed well when you get the most important information upon your first glance. For example, a good hiring poster will have “We’re hiring!” as the most prominent part of the layout.

6. Color

Different colors have different connotations. Blue works well for finances, for example, while orange is popular in the food industry. When combining colors, low contrast can be calming, but low-key and hard to read. High contrast, when colors stand out against one another, is striking and loud.

7. Typography

Typography is one of the most important facets of design. With just the right fonts and nothing else, your design can wallow in its own ageless beauty forever. We want to say there are no rules, but that’s not quite true. There’s one, and only one limitation: never compromise readability. Oh, and own your typography rules—if it isn’t coherent with your brand or industry, it won’t make sense.

With clearer revisions and more constructive critiques, your designs can be finalized much faster. But hey—at the end of the day, all you really need to know are your communication goals. Your designer can handle the rest, hire yours today!

Design Speak for Clients

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