What you see is what you get

Although these graphic design tips won’t make you a professional overnight, they will definitley help lay a foundation. These three chapters of Allison Goodman’s book, The 7 Essentials to Graphic Design, focus on dynamic layouts, the usage of grids, and how to design a memorable logo. Lets check it out!


“A design’s layout is a map for the viewer.” (54) A good layout guides the viewer. Think about it as if you’re sitting in the passenger seat of a road trip. You want to feel as if the driver knows the road. This is exactly the same with the layout—the reader wants to feel as if the designer knows the road, and the layout makes the possible! In graphic design terms, this is called information hierarchy. A layout should provide specific direction to the viewer and make it clear which information is the most important.

What Makes a Hierarchy?

Visual contrast: The differences between size, value, weight, white space, position, figure/ground, texture, and color create visual interest.

Symmetrical & Asymmetrical Balance: Symmetrical layouts achieve balance through mirrored arrangements while asymmetrical layouts achieve balance through a less predictable, more dynamic layout.

Sequencing or Visual Rhythm: The world around us is interesting because of rhythm. Visual Rhythm or Sequencing can be achieved through changes in the pace of a design through:

  • Setting up a regular system of elements and then interrupting that system
  • Opting for a surprise change in scale
  • Eliminating an expected element

Depth: Since visual design typically occurs on a flat surface, three ways to provide a design with depth are: scale, layering, and foreground/background relationships. By using the highest contrast/brightest color, elements will appear to move forward, while those with lower contrast/dull color will appear to be farther back.

Sketching Rules

The sketching process can and should service two purposes: it puts your ideas onto paper and it helps produce new ideas. Here’s a list of rules that should help make the ideation phase a time for generating new & unexpected ideas:

  1. Use a very soft pencil with a thick lead to sketch ideas: a soft lead will help you erase and make corrections
  2. Don’t try to fit your ideas into rows of predawn squares: just let your ideas flow
  3. Change the order in which you are sketching the components of your design: don’t always start the same way because then all of you sketches will be the same
  4. Change the position & size of the elements on the page
  5. Don’t include an element that you assumed had to be part of the design
  6. Break up your sketch process: take breaks!
  7. Never, ever, ever edit yourself while sketching: there is no such thing as a bad idea

Online Design Considerations

  • Site Architecture: the logic of the site (forward, backward, in, out, and all around) is key to its success
  • Browser Compatibility
  • HTML
  • On-Screen contrast & readability
  • Sound & Motion: sound can enhance the recognition of a visual symbol as well as add sensory depth to an online experience. The use of online motion-based graphics has also become more common.

Grid Systems

“Not only do grids provide publications and other media with structure, but also a rhythm to which they can dance.” (74) To successfully juggle all of this information (columns, pictures, headlines, page numbers, etc.) designers have created a set of placement guidelines, called a grid. Grids are essential for creating visual consistency in projects that move across many pages or screens.

The Reason for Grid Systems

  1. A necessity for a reusable system for multipage and/or multi-issue publication
  2. It provides the designer with an underlying logic for layout decisions
  3. Designers use Grids to make vital information clear and easily accessible

Developing a Grid

  1. Reverse Engineer the grid of a magazine or other publication that you admire
  2. Adjust the grid based on which components work for you
  3. Start with one element and let the grid develop from there


Identity Design: Logo & Logotypes

“Recognition is what every company or organization wants.” (91) Every client wants the designer to come up with a design that will be a highly recognizable representation of their company. Well, heres how to do it.

Strategies of Identity Design

Logos & logotypes create an idea, memorable and fast-reading graphic representation. Here are some examples:

  • The Nike Swoosh mark: Although this isn’t a picture of a specific shoe or sport, it still  works as the visual ideal of speed and grace. This logo simplifies an image and allows multiple people to relate, creating positive associations for the company.
  • An icon is any representation or symbol. The goal is to raise an ordinary visual representation to the highest possible level of instant recognition and positive association.


All designs go through a similar process to become a successful visual representation:

  1. Distill: consider all possible images/icons and narrow it down
  2. Translate: alter and experiment with various illustration techniques, typefaces, forms, line weights, etc.
  3. Make sure all elements, parts, and dorms work together
  4. Simplify: the final design must be simple


  1. Build upon an established typeface for a logotype: trace over words that will be incorporated into the logo and alter/experiment with them!
  2. Create Ligatures: when you are sketching your logotype possibilities, look for parts of adjacent letterforms that can be shared and/or naturally woven together
  3. Generate Calligraphic Elements: sometimes hand-crafted are the basis of identities
  4. Merge a letterform & an icon or two separate icons


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