Layout Composition Tips
Whether you’re designing a sales sheet, a newsletter, or a flyer, your content will have only a few seconds to catch the eye of a prospective customer. Interested in taking your layout composition to the next level? Here are some tips for composing beautiful, attention-grabbing layouts.
DETERMINE A HIERARCHY
Before you start designing, ask yourself: what’s my most important message? Consider your target audience, then assign levels of importance to each component you plan to include on the page. This hierarchy should guide all the decisions you make about images, text, fonts, graphics, and so on; for example, an image attribution is probably less important (and will likely go in smaller font) than your brand’s tagline.
ARRANGE YOUR PAGE
The most visually appealing layouts have symmetry and balance. Following a grid helps you create cleaner, more symmetrical designs—these days, gridlines are even built into features like iPhone photography. Designers usually rely on composition “rules” like the rule of thirds and the rule of odds—an odd number of subjects is more visually interesting than an even one—for developing focal points and arranging images on the page.
At the same time: don’t fear white space or negative space! White space gives your page room to breathe; if text boxes, images, and graphics are all on top of one another, they’ll seem cluttered and confusing. Think of white space as the frame that tells your viewer’s eyes how to travel around your page and what to focus on.
ENHANCE KEY TEXT
What you want to say to your viewer is key, but in page design, how you show it is just as important. Use headings and subheadings to place emphasis on various pieces of content, with headings scaled up to grab attention. How about adding quotes and testimonials from satisfied customers? Try making these stand out with a larger or different font or a bright color.
Speaking of typography, pairing fonts is like pairing a good meal with wine—the right font combination adds richness and flavor to your text. If you want to test font pairings on your own, interactive online tools like FontJoy offer a good basic sense of how two fonts will look together. Just make sure that whatever text you choose, all your type is aligned the same way (left, right, center, or justified). Misaligned type creates a subtle but very distracting sense that something is “off” from a visual standpoint.
CHOOSE IMAGES WISELY
Images are central to your layouts’ marketing power. Don’t go overboard with too many images; one or two large, high-resolution images work better to provide focus for your page than several small ones readers will have to squint to see.
Try to choose images with a similar aesthetic and color scheme, unless you’re going for a deliberately clashing look. If you want to present a cohesive brand, you may not want (for example) a rainbow pop art graphic on your pamphlet cover that switches abruptly to minimalist black-and-white photography on the following pages. Not sure how to describe the look you’re going for? Check out this list of 50 different types of photography for some inspiration.
STRIKE THE RIGHT COLOR COMBO
If the best layouts are a conversation between images and text, color has one of the loudest voices in that conversation. In fact, the combination of colors you select has considerable psychological influence. Do you want viewers to feel relaxed (green, blue) or high-energy (red)? This fascinating color emotion infographic collects famous brand logos by color to show what mindset each seeks to inspire in customers.
Color is also an excellent tool for pulling your page or pages together. For instance, if you need a color for highlighting important text, choose one of the colors that’s already prominent in your main images; if that color can also be found in your logo, even better!
THE BOTTOM LINE
There’s more that goes into visually appealing page layout and design than meets the eye. Everything should be guided by your main message, then organized by a simple system for aligning the elements on each page. Selecting texts and fonts, images, and colors adds an extra layer of dimension to your work; fortunately, each of these components comes with tried and tested design tips for making your page composition the best it can be.
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.