So you want to make a professional and impressive blog, an eye-catching website, or presentation for your business but you have no design experience? Never fear, because these days designing a beautiful website or blog doesn’t require a degree in design or a ton of experience in the field. It also doesn’t require spending a ton of money on outsourcing or teaching yourself.
In this post you’ll find an amazing amount of information for non-designers, including some definitions of common web design vocabulary, a list of general design guidelines, and additional resources to further your knowledge of design.
Basic Design Vocabulary Defined
Here are some common words that you may come across while trying to learn how to design a blog or website. The better you understand these terms, the better you will understand how they apply to good designing.
The positioning of design elements (such as text and images) within the space you are designing.
A circle of colors that shows the relationships between each color. For example, colors that are across from each other on the color wheel complement each other.
The differences between colors, shapes, spacing, or any other design element .
Cropping is the removal of the outer parts of an image to reshape or resize it.
A typeface in a certain style and size, i.e. Book Antigua in size 12.
This is a file type that compresses the image in a way that doesn’t decrease the quality. It’s a common file type used for photos.
How bright a color is.
A design principle that visually emphasizes certain parts or sections of your content’s message by using colors, sizes, and layouts.
The blank space between or around design elements.
General Design Guidelines
These general guidelines can be applied to any form of design. Whether you are putting together a pitch presentation and want to make a PowerPoint or are creating a website for your business, following these basic tips will make your design look attractive and professional.
Keep it simple
People like simplicity. They just do. Any design that has too many things going on at once will turn your viewer off or give them a headache. You want people to enjoy looking at what you’ve designed, because that’s the whole point! Avoid putting too much information on one slide or page. Keep the provided information simple and focused.
Alignment and spacing
Once again, keep it simple. If you are writing a blog post or putting information on a slide, write short paragraphs or use bullet points. It’s frustrating and overwhelming to have huge long blocks of text in front you. Choose to either right or left align your elements, and stick to your decision.
When your elements are spaced or aligned oddly, people will notice. Their eyes will be drawn to the design flaw and their attention will not be on the main point of your design or information.
Images and color
When using images for your design space, make sure they are relevant. Don’t use cheesy clip art unless it goes with the theme or information you are trying to convey. Also, if a picture really lashes with your color scheme, pick a different one. Images and color go hand and hand.
Too often, I’ve been confronted with a blog or website that is overloaded with tons of different colors and shades. Do not do this! It’s not pretty, it’s confusing and distracting. Leave the many different colors, hues, and saturations to the real designers. If you want to make your design look professional, stick to 1-2 colors, and continue using the same colors. Switching around depending on your mood will only distract from your central topic or information.
You wouldn’t start writing a review of a product without testing and using it first. The same goes for design, particularly if you don’t have any prior experience. Look around and find professional examples of what you like and don’t like. Model your design after something that you think was effective and professional.
Now that you have a basic understanding of design, here are some great resources for you to check out!
ColourLovers – This site allows designers to share their color palettes; it’s a great resource because color combinations can be difficult. Browse through and get some inspiration!
Canva – This free site makes design super easy and fun. It has tons of free elements that you can create and download – a great starting point!
Pattern Tap – Pattern Tap is an extensive library of real web design examples.
Creative Market – If you are willing to spend a little money on good design, this is a great site; this site sells affordable fonts, logos, Wordpress themes, and more.
Unsplash - Has a great selection of free, high resolution photos that you can use for your website or blog.
Well, there you have it! Now any non-designer can feel confident forging ahead into the world of design - with some trial and error of course!
Did we miss something important about design? What resources and tips do you use for web and presentation design? Post your comment below and let us know your thoughts!