Small design changes that can make a huge difference in editorial design | Ballast Notes

It can be tough when I client says to you, "This design just isn't working," or, "Something is missing," without providing much other feedback. Although it's good to ask a few more questions to the client at this time, some can still find difficulty in placing their finger on what exactly it is they don't love about the design.

In my experience, I've found that 9 times out of 10, simplifying the design is the key. When you're working with someone that lives and breathes their company message each and every day, it's super easy to provide you with wayyy too much information. Working as a designer or art director, it's also your job to steer the client in the right direction and provide your expertise to ensure an awesome end product. Here are some of my favorite tactics to try on a project that isn't quite right on editorial design pieces like magazine spreads, brochures, flyers, and more: 

  • More white space
    Adding a little extra padding between photos, text, and other graphics, makes content much more consumable. Spacing out text, widening margins, and making text smaller in order to have it look less overwhelming on a page can all work very well. In a culture where we often quickly scan over a page to consume information first, adding white space gives the eye more room and time to land on something.
  • Use fewer graphics
    Don't get me wrong -- graphics like lines, spot illustrations, and colored boxes can serve awesome purposes. But an issue can arise when they're overused, and white space is cut down because of it. Adding more white space can often end up serving the same purpose as colored boxes or lines; and illustrations should be used to draw attention to the most important information - if those are overused, it lessens the intended impact.
  • Cut down on text copy
    Cutting down on text is something very few clients want to do, but can be a huuuge help if it's done. Like I mentioned earlier, most people like to scan through a printed design. Having the page mostly taken up by text often turns people off from consuming the information because of the commitment they'll need to make to read it all. By cutting down on text (and yes, adding more white space), there's a better chance that it will be inviting to the client's audience.
  • Use a maximum of two fonts
    Two fonts is my general rule for everything. You want to show consistency without being unexciting; inviting without being too much. This is a way to enforce client brand standards, and show how less is truly more. Choose fonts carefully, and use typefaces that have multiple weights for a range of options if at all possible.

    What do you think? Do you have other client tips that make a big difference in revising design? Let me know below!