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Today’s topic is the keys to reviewing design and how to use them effectively. Do you ever look at a website or an ad and know that there’s something off about it, something just not polished but you’re not sure why? Well I guarantee you it’s the design elements not playing off of each other correctly.

What do I mean by that? In order for the visual branding to be effective, it has to have a balance. So I’m going to teach you how to differentiate good design from bad design with three simple steps.

This is a really fun topic for me because I studied graphic design in college. Also I’ve spent many, many hours driving down the highway, I’m sure just as you have, looking at really, really, really bad banner ads and trying to figure out what were they thinking, and why they spent so much money putting that ad up there.

There are several ways to find the creative balance. If you’re asking, “Do I even need to know this, as an entrepreneur, as a business owner?” I’m going to say yes. Because sometimes as entrepreneurs, we don’t have the budgets to hire somebody to design things for us and we try to do it ourselves, or we do hire somebody, but maybe our budgets aren’t very big so we have to help them along.

By knowing the key points to reviewing design, you will be better at understanding why some brands work better than others. With everything being digital these days, it’s very important how you portray your brand online, and that the user experience is easy.

Did you know that half of mobile user activity results in a purchase? That means that half the people that actually use their phone to go to a website and browse, end up purchasing something. If the website is really complicated, if the balance is off, and the branding is not aligned, they’re going to opt out and they’re going to go somewhere else.

Let’s talk about the key points to looking at really great design. Number one is fonts. Whenever considering font usage, make sure to only use two font families whenever it comes to your design. For instance, Ventura or a Helvetica, you’re more than welcome to use different aspects of that font, like a thin, a thick, and italic.

But anytime you have more than two to three fonts, everything gets disconnected. Overdoing fonts effects legibility and causes disconnect from the message. Also, your design will look really busy and distorted.

Then the wrong selection of type can ruin a brand. So it needs to complement that vision. Make sure, too, that your fonts are Web‑friendly because if they don’t download correctly, your design is going to be all over the place.

If you’re ever looking at somebody’s design, take a look at how many fonts that they’re using. Right then and there, I can tell if they’ve actually gone to a graphic design school, or if they’re just kind of piecing something together.

Another key point to consider, whenever looking at design is alignment. Is there balance between elements? How are the elements positioned? Are they cohesive and as one structure, or are they all over the place? Are the elements proportioned? Is the entire piece uniformed?

One way that I check that is very simply. I go up and down with my eyes, let’s say on a website, or maybe it’s a piece of collateral that’s a brochure. Is everything aligned from the top to the bottom? Is the copy aligned with the image at the bottom? Can I draw straight lines? Usually there’s either two sets of rows, or three sets of rows, or four sets of rows. But everything should be mostly aligned.

Then I go to left to right and I do the same thing. Is everything aligning mostly the way it’s supposed to? Now sometimes you’ll have key elements that are here and there just to pop. Or maybe one piece is a little bit bigger, like an image, but overall, are the pieces aligned left to right and up and down? That’s a really good way, whenever you’re looking at someone’s portfolio and you’re trying to hire a designer, to see if they know what they’re doing.

The third key point that I want you to consider is the one‑third rule. This is really, really important, to have one‑third of images, one‑third of copy, and one‑third of white space. A lot of times what happens in design is that everybody wants throw in everything, as much information as possible, and they’ll put in so much content, so many images, so many colors and the eye cannot rest. Then we get overwhelmed subconsciously and we opt out.

So make sure to follow the one‑third rule and put 30 percent of space, whether it’s black space, white space, that everything else, all the other elements have space to breathe. Whenever I’m speaking or teaching a workshop, I pull examples from the real world as the things to do, and then the things that aren’t working really well.

I found one example that a consultant, who’s a marketing strategist and she helps people brand their business. But when you go to her website, the minute that you see it, you see six different fonts, you see about six different colors, the fonts that she chose are not legible and there’s no consideration for alignment. She put some images here, some images there. They’re cropped off, and then just copy, and then threw a logo right in the middle of it and a little bit more information about her.

Now as someone looking in, I’m thinking, “How is she going to help me with my business, if she can’t even brand her own business?” So just having a website isn’t enough for your credibility.

Today’s three forward strategies, when assessing design, is number one, count the number of fonts that are being used. If you have more than two font families being used, that’s too much. Your branding will not look cohesive.

Number two, check the alignment of all the elements on your design. Make sure that your eye goes up and down and see if everything is aligned, and then left to right and make sure that the elements are aligned.

Number three, take a look at the one‑third rule. Make sure that there is enough space as there is copy, as there is images, and there’s plenty of room for everything to sit nicely and to breathe.

So the takeaway for today is that fonts, alignment, and balance are the best keys to assessing design. If you enjoyed this podcast, please share with your friends and colleagues, and if there are any other topics on running a business or building a brand, you would like to hear about, please leave a comment.

Remember the time and energy you put into your brand determines the success of your business.

Thank you for your time, and I hope you keep rocking, and dream big!

Kasia Johnson







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