Using Crap to Make Sure That Your Designs Are Anything but
Yes, as in any other creative fields, you have to allow yourself to be an amateur before you can spread your wings and soar amongst the professionals. However when you are familiar with basic guidelines, tips and tricks of the trade your ascension to the lofty ranks of the design masters would be a lot quicker. The four most important aspects to remember and follow when designing anything page-related, be it newsletters, business cards, brochures or websites, is CRAP: Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity. Using and implementing CRAP will ensure that your designs are anything but.
For contrast to be affective make sure that the contrasting elements are very different. Contrast is used to create interest and to organize information on the page. It effectively separates different concepts while grouping similar ones. Contrast can be achieved with color, typeface, size, line thickness, space, shapes etc.
Repetition is used to create visual interest and to continue the visual theme you have chosen. Keeping text blocks the same color, weight, typeface, and size is one of the most basic forms of repetition. If your company logo contains a hotdog, use little hotdogs as bullets for important points. Choose no more than three colors for your design and repeat these throughout.
Alignment is used to unify elements on the page into a coherent theme. This creates the look that you are trying to convey. Sticking to one type of alignment links the items to produce this effect. Try to avoid using a centered alignment as this portrays a sedate, formal often dull look. Instead be creative and do not be afraid to align everything to the bottom right of the page. Experiment.
Grouping similar objects in a design on the page provides organization. The information is then easier to read and remember because you have enforced the already present relationship between two or more elements. Use spacing, size, shape and contrast to group related information. Objects that do not relate to each other should be grouped on different areas of the page as well as possess different levels of contrast, size and shape.
As you can see, all these aspects work together, overlapping each other to create a coherent, attractive, well balanced design which conveys the message and tone that you are going for. Be creative enough to use a font other than Times New Roman. Be bold enough to shrink your text below twelve. Be brave enough to break away from that common centered alignment. Never underestimate your ability to produce unique, powerful designs.