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7 Principles to Positively Influence How your Content is Perceived.

15 Jun 2018

This month's entry is a guest post by our own design specialist, Divya Venkatesh.


Have you ever looked at an ad and thought: “This looks so interesting - where can I find out more!”? 


If I ask you right now to describe the design of that ad, I bet you wouldn’t be able to because what you’re engaged with and excited by is the message of that ad. That’s great! It means its design is working. 


‘Good design’ when done properly doesn’t distract your eye from the message.


Instead, all the design considerations (choice of colour, the typeface, use of white space for example) become invisible, working seamlessly in the background with content to create engaging story-telling. 



"‘Good design’ when done properly
doesn’t distract your eye from the message." 



Now, have you ever looked at an ad and thought “I have no idea what I’m supposed to be taking away from this.”?


If I asked you the same question about the design, you’d probably tell me that there is too much going on and your eye doesn’t know where to look; or that the background colour makes the text hard to read; or that you don’t know what you’re supposed to do with the information, etc.


What it is happening, (as you may have guessed) is that the design of the ad is working against the content, interfering with it, obscuring the message, and generally making the ad harder and/or unappealing to engage with. 



"‘Poor design’ works against the content... obscuring the message and making it harder to engage with." 



An easy way to tell good design from poor design is to ask yourself how you feel about it:



 Good design (Invisible Design)...


- Feels right

- Is easy to read and understand

- Is clear and accessible

- Is persuasive

- Creates an emotional connection 

- Leads you to action


                                 Poor design...


- Is jarring, uncomfortable to look at

- Obscures the message

- Is chaotic and distracting

- Is confusing

- Is inaccessible

- Doesn’t create an emotional connection



Thankfully, poor design choices are easy to avoid simply by familiarising yourself with design basics. 




So what are the design basics?


Design is a creative problem solving process that combines basic elements together to create a whole picture. Can you guess what the basic elements are from looking at this piece of design?


By Divya Venkatesh & DiversEarth



If you guessed any of the following: colour, typography, shape / mark-making, photography, visual grammar, layout and language – top marks! 


Each of these 7 elements is a powerful tool. Understanding their properties and how they are used in the design process is essential for anyone looking to design content.



Colour: Colour instantly creates a connection with your audience, and is easily one of the most powerful design elements.


It’s an emotional reaction cultivated by living in a particular society – so it’s important to keep in mind that colours will not evoke the same reactions everywhere in the world.


In the UK for example, we are used to associating the colour red with danger, warnings, action, excitement and love. Travel East and you’ll find the same colour being used to convey prosperity, marriage and good luck.


By Amy Beeson & Divya Venkatesh




Typography: The term ‘typography’ refers to both the use of a typeface and the laying out of an information hierarchy – a system essential for guiding the eye, and helping your viewer intuitively access the information present. 


By Amy Beeson & Divya Venkatesh




Mark-Making / Illustration: Shapes and images can support your content by breaking up text to make it easier to read, acting as a holding device for text and / or photography, or by letting viewers understand the topic from a quick first glance.  

By Divya Venkatesh & DiversEarth



Photography: A picture is worth a thousand words. Photography is a powerful and complex element that can add layers of depth and meaning to your content. Like colour, it creates an instant connection. 



By Divya Venkatesh & DiversEarth




Visual Grammar: Visual Grammar and Gestalt Theory explore how objects interact with each other and their surrounding negative space to influence visual perception.


Take for example our logo; the curve of the ampersand leads your eye to the triangles by using the principle of continuation – where two unrelated objects appear linked through perceived movement and / or proximity.



Layout: Elements interacting on a page is termed ‘layout’. To keep everything neat and tidy, guidelines for bringing elements together are usually based on grid systems and mathematical principles like the Golden Ratio and Rule of Thirds.


 By Divya Venkatesh



And finally,


Language: The way something is written (tone) and the words that have been used (language) have a big impact on the design choices made and how they are brought together.


By Amy Beeson & Divya Venkatesh





Theory is great, but how does this work all together in practice?


You wouldn’t think about it, but an interesting case study to look at is the Vote Leave Brexit campaign which, according to Marketing Week, was voted 2016’s most successful marketing campaign. Yikes. 


Although this subject is upsetting for nearly half the population, it’s actually an impressive piece of marketing whose messaging has been enhanced through ‘good’ design. 


Every design choice made (remember the 7 elements from before?), like:

  • using red (which, in addition to having the associations mentioned above, also has special cultural meanings relating to the British people, Red Coats, Poppies, and national pride etc.)

  • using a clean and modern typeface

  • using a campaign mark that includes an illustrated red button to ‘take control now’ 

worked closely together with the campaign’s messaging, tone and language to amplify and give visual form to pre-existing insecurities and fears of over half the population.


For an in depth look at the design of the Vote Leave campaign and just how much impact it had on content, I’d recommend this insightful article by Rob Coke, Creative Review Author.




The take-away


Every single design element used should be a carefully thought through decision. It all impacts on your content so you should have a clear understanding for why something looks a certain way. 


We can help you get the most from your design by making sure each design consideration supports your content and the message you are trying to get out. 


So, do you want to create some ‘good design’ today?



“Good design, when it’s done well, becomes invisible. It’s only when it’s done poorly that we notice it.” – Jared Spool



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