print design

How to design your print material, without being a designer

By James Trotter

You may not be a designer by trade, but there is nothing to stop you from tapping into the methods of what graphic designers actually do when it comes to designing your own promotional material. From roller banners to posters, flyers and more, here’s how to design hack your way to a well-designed printed product…

Create an idea library
Watch a DIY show on TV or surf the web for design ideas and you will come across a concept known as a ‘mood board’. This is a collection of clipping and ideas that designers want to use or incorporate at some time in an upcoming design.

In the case of promotion material such as roller banner, posters and so on, when you come across something that catches your eye, keep it for reference in your idea library. Take time to look at these ideas and work out what it is that you like (or don’t like) about them. Is there an aspect or two that you want to replicate?

Be consistent with design elements
There are some clever examples of this where by the font and colour alone, customers can identify who the promotional material is by. There is no secret behind this: it is being consistent with logo and colors, and using them over time.

Decide on your logo, type face, graphics and colors and stick to them.

Be the reader
All too often, when we design something we come at it from the wrong perspective. A design hack that graphic designers use across all media, both printed and online, is to put themselves in the shoes of the reader, the audience, the customer and so on.

Why do they care about what you have to offer? What information would they be searching for? Think of the questions the customer will ask and answer them.

Use white space effectively
White space is not necessarily white but is a blank space. Not every inch of your banner stands have to be covered in print or graphics. White or blank space is your friend, and here’s why: the eye needs to be able to work out what it is looking at.

If there is a jumble of words, all mixed in with graphics and pictures, it is hard to determine shapes of words or determine where the important information is. With the addition of white or blank space here and there, it allows the eye to pick out shapes and to focus on certain areas of the banner, poster and so on. This is true no matter what the medium or how big or small it is.

Too much information overwhelms the eye.

With design, less is often more
The difference between a professionally designed promotional item and a DIY job is that the design a non-professional designer creates is simply too busy and stuffed with all sorts. Within such a jumble, it can be hard for your customer to find the message.

Pare back you design, creating a simple, clean and organised layout to the material. This way, your item will be high impact.

Think logically
Think about how we read here in Western world. We read from left to right, whether it is a book, or a web page. The same is true of leaflets, posters and banner stands. Be logical in how and where your place test, falling in with the natural propensity to read from left to right.

People will also look up before they look down, so higher up an item such as a banner or a poster, have your logo and/or contact information. The eye line is the most important are of the item so this is where you need to have the most important information.

People will then carry on looking downwards and so it makes sense that in this area you have a call to action.

Include a call to action
A call to action is telling your customer what they must or should do in order to find out more, get a discount or buy. If the discount won’t last long, you need to tell them that. If it is really important that they order today, tell them that too.

Don’t be frightened to give an instruction, people are not offended which is why when you see ‘Buy Now!’ you will often click it.

Giving people a reason to respond is important but don’t paste sales talk all over your promotional material from top to bottom, or it becomes bland and boring.

Designing your own materials is possible – why not give it a try?

With 25 years of experience, understanding the impact of printed promotional material is something that Colour Graphics knows all too well. With one eye on quality, the other on affordability, James Trotter, marketing assistant at Colour Graphics (@colourgraphics), understands the potential of printed media for every business.