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General Graphic Design Tips

Good graphic design helps inspire, persuade, and inform. It can mean the difference between a memorable ad campaign or sales brochure and one that falls completely flat. At AlphaGraphics of Alexandria and Arlington, customers often come in and ask us to help fix their DIY designs. We sat down recently with our in-house graphic designers and asked them to give us some tips to share with our audience. Read on to learn more about general graphic design tips and how they can help you create a better, more powerful, and more effective design.

Know Your Audience

One of the biggest reasons graphic design falls flat is that the designer doesn’t consider their intended audience. Instead of using design choices that appeal to your own tastes, consider designing for your audience. For example, let’s say that you own a hip clothing brand that caters to young adults in their early 20’s. You shouldn’t use images of people in their 40’s or 50’s as it does not appeal to your core audience. If you’re not sure about your audience, don’t make assumptions. Instead, research your target demographic. You can start by looking at similar brands for inspiration (don’t copy their designs). What colors are they using? What kind of imagery are they using? This will allow you to really dial in your graphic design.

Avoid Overly Complicated Designs

While an intricate design may look fantastic on your computer screen, it often confuses people when they see it in an advertisement or on paper. This advice especially holds true when you’re designing your own signage. Signs are meant to convey information in a fraction of a second. Nobody will want to stand there and “take it all in” to get the meaning of the sign or figure out what it is asking them to do.

Carefully Consider Your Color Scheme

Colors are another critically important aspect of good design. They convey a subconscious message that can affect a person’s immediate mood and interpretation of a design. If you’re not familiar with the concept, we highly recommend that you read up on the science of color psychology. Let’s compare two different colors, yellow and blue: Yellow—The color yellow resonates with the left or logical side of the brain. It’s a happy and warm color that can improve people’s moods. However, there are some downsides. If you use too much yellow in your design, it can evoke feelings of anxiety or apprehension, and it can also cause people to become overly judgmental. Blue—Blue is considered a “safe” color for business. Everyone loves blue, and it evokes feelings of peace, predictability, integrity, and trust. However, keep in mind that blue can denote dull or mature feelings as well.

Utilize Whitespace

Sometimes what you don’t say has a more significant impact on what you say. “Whitespace” is defined as the space of your graphic design that has no colors, text, images, or graphics. Literally “the white space of the canvas.” Professional graphic designers use whitespace to separate design elements or emphasize images or text expertly. For example, look at any given Apple ad campaign, and it has ample white space and causes the eye to focus upon the new Apple product.

Use Complementary Colors

Certain colors complement one another. It’s advisable to stick to three primary colors and use a (free online) color wheel to ensure they’re complementary. Complementary colors also tie into color psychology. By using both of these principles, you’ll be able to create a far more impactful and meaningful design.

Alignment of Design Elements

The alignment of your design should come after you’ve created your various elements. It’s how you really dial in and polish a design, and it creates order and structure and helps ensure all elements are visually appealing. The best way to demonstrate alignment is as follows: Aligned Aligned Aligned Not Aligned Aligned Aligned Not Aligned Aligned


The photos that you use are essential. For starters, use as high-quality of a picture as possible. If you’re sending your design to the printers, it will allow the image to look as sharp as it does on your computer screen. Avoid getting too carried away with Photoshop filters and effects, as it can cause the overall design to look very tacky and unprofessional. The same advice goes for borders and drop shadows—use gingerly and only when needed.

Design Help in Alexandria and Arlington

Graphic design is as much of an art as it is a science. If you’re struggling with your design or need a fresh outside perspective, contact the expert graphic designers at AlphaGraphics of Alexandria and Arlington. Over the years, we’ve helped countless Alexandria and Arlington businesses, individuals, and organizations create graphic designs that made a huge impact. If you’d like to learn more about our design or event sign services, give us a call at (703) 549-2432 or contact us on our website.

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