The CRAP Design Principles

frustrated-graphic-designerFeeling frustrated and/or overwhelmed by the thought of designing a media piece for your company or perhaps even your own business?  Don’t stress, you’re not alone.  Even traditional designers with years of experience are not exempt from such feelings.  Whoever you are, and whatever your background is, this post is here to bring you four of the most basic design principles to serve as a starting point and less overwhelming objective to focus on.  Don’t worry, they’re simple.  And the acronym, “CRAP” is even easier to remember – so no excuses people!

Contrast – if you are going to change an element in the piece you’re creating, MAKE A BIG, VERY NOTICEABLE CHANGE.  The elements you might consider adjusting include things like type, color, size, line thickness, shape, space between elements, etc.

Repetition – always consider repeating visual elements within your design.  The repetition will tie together the design and give it a stronger sense of unity.  Be selective about what elements you choose to repeat, but promise me you’ll always remember that LESS IS MORE.  A.K.A. do not repeat every single visual element in your design or it will end up looking like a hot mess.  Along with the visual elements previously listed in the contrast section, any symbols or images used in your design are also good candidates for being repeated throughout your piece (think watermarks).

Alignment – Random works well for some people, but most of the time, it does NOT work well in design.  The idea behind this principle is that nothing should be placed on the page arbitrarily.  That is, every element should have a visual connection with another element on the page in one way or another.  For example, all of the paragraphs in this post are aligned with one another.

If I started a paragraph here

and then here

or maybe here…

the post as a whole would look like crap (the non-crap principle kind of crap) and most of you would probably not even consider reading it.

Proximity – Items that relate to each other should be grouped together.  This will keep your design organized and allow viewers to successfully grab every bit of information without having to search for it.  For example, if you’re designing a flyer for the upcoming live shows at your restaurant/bar/theater/whatever, things like the address, phone number, and daily hours of your establishment should all be found next to each other or as a list in the overall design.

 

That’s it!  Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity.  Remember those AT LEAST, and you’ll be happy you did.  One last suggestion – take a moment during your day that is convenient for you to look for these principles in flyers (and other media pieces) around your community.  You’ll start to recognize good and bad examples of design as well as gain a better awareness for how important these principles are to the overall impact of each design.  Good luck! 🙂

photo source: freelancegraphicdesigner.info

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