Good graphic design by amateurs

With an ever-growing number of marketing channels, it’s increasingly likely that non-designers in your organization will be called on to do graphic design. This is particularly true at nonprofits where tight budgets often put professional designers out of reach. While you may only be producing simple infographics for use on Facebook, the quality of the graphics always reflects on your organization.

The thing about graphic design is that it is incredibly easy to get it wrong, from colors to layout and even to the use of amateur clip art.

I’ve managed people, both in-house and external, who have been true professionals in graphic arts. But this doesn’t make me a designer. I love working in Photoshop, but this doesn’t make me a designer, either. So over the years I have developed a few graphic rules of thumb I rely on when I need to do something myself:

  • Keep it simple. It is better to shoot for something that would be termed “elegant.” A minimalist design has more chance to look good than when an amateur tries something highly creative.
  • Leave a lot of white space. It is the easiest way to look like you know what you’re doing.
  • Don’t try to be too creative. The more you try to be creative, the higher the chances of looking like an amateur.
  • Start with a great photo. When available, the quality of a photo will carry the burden of design, so your own work doesn’t need to.

For a more detailed explanation of things to avoid, I would recommend this recent article from Visme: 19 of The Most Common Mistakes Made By Non-Designers.

If you are managing non-designers, be sure they follow these rules as well. Better still, enroll them in an online design course and be sure to review everything before it goes online, at least until you know whom you can trust.

Graphic elements: Visme

Graphic designBob Lawson