From time to time any graphic designer or creative guru needs to take stock, relax and look for inspiration. Staring at a screen hour after hour takes its toll I have put together some refreshing inspiration to help us designers. All of the below images have been taken off deviantart so please check there for artist details, I have found these to aid inspiration.
– Basic knowledge of the theory of colour is very useful in graphic design.
To fully understand the colour theory I have compiled a basic run down below.
RGB – red, green & blue, CMYK – cyan, magenta, yellow & Key (black) If you can recall your human biology lessons in school if you weren’t half asleep like me at the back of the class chewing your biro. Your eyes contain two receptors rods and cones. Cones allow the brain to see colour whereas Rods convey shades of grey.
Cones come in three flavours – One for oranges, second for green and third for blue/violets.
Enough of science lesson lets head to the colours.
PRIMARY – main colours cannot make others
SECONDARY – when mixing two primary
TERTIARY – mix primary and secondary together
COMPLEMENTARY – complete opposite ends of the colour wheel
ANALOGOUS – colours close together on the colour wheel.
What are PANTONE COLOURS?
I struggled to understand why and what is a Pantone until I landed my first job in a print graphic design studio. A Pantone is an industry recognised colour, given a specific number from the Pantone booklet swatches (don’t come cheap but required). A print house or design can add a pantone specific number to any given colour and the print house will know the exact mix to use to produce this colour. It is the most accurate colour chart available. Comes in two flavours coated for glossy and coated papers, un-coated for matt paper.
2. SCALE – an important aspect of any graphic design project, sizing content in proportion is important making any type, graphics or imagery are all scaled together in proportion.
If you are designing a billboard banner this will be viewed far away, graphics and headlines need to be much larger in order to achieve the right balance. A small flyer or business card would obviously need a much smaller scale, headlines need to be in proportion with the other design elements.
3. TYPOGRAPHY – typefaces play a huge role in any graphic design piece, think of the fonts as the characters in a film. The lead character being the main font and actors other typefaces. General rule is no more then three typefaces unless it has been made an absolute from a client for a specific reason. Type is important for a corporate style or ID, it helps make the design consistent across the board. Type is defined through each style and characteristics to convey a specific message for the brand.
4. PRINT OUTPUT FILES – this one frustrates me, the amount of times I have worked with designers who have no idea what a trim mark is or dpi. Working in digital it is important to ensure that your artwork is in the correct format. Imagery needs to be in the correct resolution and to scale. Images for print should be 300dpi (dots per inch) minimum, website images are 72dpi which is ok for screen viewing. If you were to try and print 72dpi images they would appear very blurry or pixelated.
5. THREE AND ONLY THREE – we discussed typography above and only using 3 fonts, this is termed the rule of three in graphic design. Keeping to this rule your design will look professional, clean and precise. If you were reading a book and the fonts kept changing it would be confusing for the reader let alone messy visually. The rule of three applies to colours as well, so remember three typefaces and three main colours will make your design less distracting and complicated.
Mobiles & tablet devices account for over 20% of website searches, this is growing month on month.
Without a responsive visitors could get frustrated trying to zoom in and out eventually leaving and never to return. Responsive website design is the next generation for website design, over the next 5 years devices could account for 50% of searches.
Have you missed out on the buzz of responsive design, read more
Responsive design has been around for the last few years, it has however started to become more mainstream over the past year with big companies getting on board designing websites that look great on desktop or mobiles. A responsive site will not only look great on all platforms, it is future proof. Google will be happier with your site if it is responsive, so get ahead of your competitors, go responsive…
Below I have gathered some great inspiration for responsive design, if you have some to share send them over or comment and I will add these to the list.
I have been working in website design and the graphic design industry since leaving school With the years of building sites and providing SEO service to clients I have some great knowledge about what could improve your own websites, partly due to making the mistakes myself and learning. The list below isn’t a magic wand but what it does provide is very simple tips to help your sites give customers a great website and find what they are looking for.
1. Content – This first tip is by far one of the most important aspects of being successful online today. Google just loves compelling and unique content. If you can’t write it yourself employ an article writer. When visitors find your site and get the correct information from it they return. To get higher in Google searches don’t copy other sites content write it yourself, duplicated copy will only get your site penalised by searches and prepare to see your ranking drop… Alot!
2. Navigation – Apart from the overall website design, navigation is extremely important. You have 3-4 seconds to get your customers to where they need to be. Provide navigation on every page in a prominent position. Try to avoid long navigation drop down menus to annoy customers. Keep your products within categories, I found that also adding a search bar above the main menu will give visitors a chance to quickly search for the page or product. This is vital if you are running a retail store.
3. Pop-ups – I made this mistake offering customers a discount if they sign up to my newsletter. Unfortunately it annoys visitors. If you have a retail store leave the pop-ups behind, if customers want to sign-up to your newsletter provide a form on your home pages an automatic pop-up annoys visitors to the point of not returning unfortunately.
4. Responsive design – Mobile and iPad are huge, when I analyse some of my sites statistics almost 40% are viewed via a mobile browser on iPhone and android. Having a responsive website design (scalable to mobile) will provide visitors with a perfect screen view whatever the browser. Although this is no. 4 on my tips, all of the above are level in importance. If you use WordPress CMS there are plenty of free responsive boiler plates, one good one I use is called bones, this provides me with a cleaned up CSS version totally responsive and ready to get creative with the CSS.
5. Page load – Compress your images and graphics, Photoshop will enable you to scrunch down your images. This isn’t as important as it once was due to the speed of broadband today. However if you run a retail site it would soon become a lot slower in page load the more product images you upload. A good GZIP compression is the best option for Magento built sites, WordPress has lots of plugins, pretty sure a developer has already coded one as I write this.
6. Fonts – Make your body text font size minimum 12px, don’t force your visitors to squint reading the text. The text is your information, make it legible and easy to read. Check your spelling to save any embarrassment, it will look more professional.
7. Be contactable – Provide telephone and email address details on every page, usually at the top right. Give your customers the same information on the footer and on a main contact page accessible via the navigation menu.
8. SEO Meta description – SEO meta description tags should be unique for every page. Give a brief synopsis of the page with the company name. Same for page-titles, unique for ever page (example – contact us / company name).
I hope these tips help you on your projects, if you need some further help I am always available via my blog or email. I currently work as a website and graphic designer based in Loughborough, Leicestershire.