Design Best Practices

Branding, especially through digital marketing, gives companies the opportunity to express a unique voice. Having a distinctive identity helps brands stand out from the competition and attract a specific audience.

But branding goes far beyond logos and slogans. If properly utilized, design can be used to speak to your audience more effectively and drive conversions. 

Design Best Practices for Digital Marketing

Visual design is extremely important in all areas of digital marketing. Some places to focus on maintaining strong and consistent design include...

Advertising

Whether creating eye-catching banners for Google Ads or promotional material for your website, how you design your advertisements says a lot to your viewers. From color scheme to text spacing, small visual elements can have a big impact on how viewers interpret an ad. 

Social Media

The internet and social media in particular allow brands to engage with target audiences in a casual and authentic manner. Even if you have a strong social following, you are always competing with other posts to hold the attention of viewers. Attractive and cohesive design can help maintain engagement and establish a unique identity online

Website

Your website is often the first true impression new viewers get of your business. Creating a strong and cohesive brand identity throughout your site will give your new viewers an authentic first impression and show returning visitors consistency in your brand. 

Your website is one of the most fully-customizable aspects of your online brand identity, so you want to take advantage of all the personalization options available. 

 

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CTAs

Most marketers rely on unique and engaging CTAs to connect with and guide viewers. Everything about an effective CTA relies on a strong understanding of visual design. Most consumers have grown numb to click-bait tactics, but there are design elements that can be used to increase engagement. 

Email

Still one of the favored tactics of marketers today, email is as effective as your strategy. One of the make or break points of engaging email marketing is strong design; having an email newsletter that looks right is as important as the right content

Luckily, tools like online templates make creating attractive and interactive emails simple. 

Impact on Viewers

Strong and effective visual design can impact viewers in many ways, and both B2B and B2C marketers are searching for the best ways to use design to connect with audiences. From attracting new leads to converting stubborn prospects, marketers can use visual elements to further most goals. 

The Numbers

  • People only maintain 10% of the information they hear, but maintain 65% of visual information
  • 51% of B2B marketers are prioritizing visual content in their strategies
  • 32% of marketers say visuals are the most important form of content
    Source

The visual elements of a brand convey more to viewers than some business owners might think. Having an attractive brand does so much more than just look good; when used correctly, design can impact the trust consumers can put into your brand, the professionalism of your brand, and the value customers expect you to deliver. The visual identity of your brand speaks to consumers on many levels that can easily be overlooked. 

Design also works to control the message to bring you closer to your goals. From imagery to tone, how you design your content changes how viewers react. Strong, effective design controls the narrative to guide leads through the buying process. 

Evergreen Design Tips

Visual design can impact every aspect of your marketing strategy, but many small business owners can be intimidated. Even if art wasn’t your “thing” in school, you can build an attractive and engaging brand identity and digital marketing strategy.

To start out, focus on the basics. Before getting too into the weeds, there are certain visual elements you should establish. You can always go back and change aspects of your design strategy, but having a basic starting point will help to guide your branding and maintain a visual cohesiveness. 

Consistency

Consistency is the most unifying of these design practices. While typically referring to typeface and color palettes, you want to aim for consistency in every design choice. 

However, consistency does not have to mean boring! 

Unifying your visual identity through cohesive design establishes a specific brand, but it can also help guide you to make changes to your design without interfering with the overall identity.

For example, when choosing a typeface for your website, look for options with several styles (bold, light, extra light, etc.). This can help maintain a cohesive look without overdoing it while still giving you the freedom to play with font choices. 

Similarly, choose colors that can be used in most areas of digital marketing. Start by choosing a singular color you want tied to your brand. If you already have a logo, consider looking to it to find this initial color. 

Then, branch out slightly within the same color family to find other shades that can be used to accent and highlight. Finally, add complementary (contrasting) colors to create bold, stand-out effects.

Starting with a singular color will help guide you into finding colors that work together without distracting from the main content and message. For help choosing a palette, check out this online DIY color palette generator!

Hierarchy

One of the most basic uses of visual design is establishing a hierarchy of information. Obviously, you want the most important things to stand out most to your audience. While messaging can have an impact on what viewers prioritize, much of this impact comes down to visual design. 

All design elements, including size, color, placement and spacing can impact what viewers interpret as the most important information.

Size is one of the easiest and most obvious elements to experiment with when establishing a hierarchy. Viewers are often drawn to the biggest text on a page, so you can easily prioritize and call out certain information simply by changing the size of the font. The same goes for color; look to your chosen palette to determine what color will best highlight information.

Space

Just like hierarchy, spacing impacts how viewers consume and prioritize information. Some designers may feel the need to use up as much space as possible, taking advantage of all the room available for information. For digital design, this is a big no-no.

Whether you’re designing a homepage or a new CTA, how much space you include will always impact how viewers respond. While you probably have a lot to share with your viewer, presenting too much information at once actually makes it harder for viewers to absorb anything you are telling them. Instead, prioritizing whitespace will help you guide viewers towards the most pertinent information. 

By including whitespace around important aspects of a webpage, you are highlighting the information. When surrounded by other text and visuals, the information can be overwhelmed and missed. Instead, surrounding information with whitespace will help it to stand out among other visual page elements. 

For example, say you’ve just designed a great new CTA. Use it in a space where related information will encourage users to click the button. You might be tempted to explain all the reasons why viewers should follow that link, but doing so will take over the page and distract viewers. 

Instead, let the CTA speak for itself. If properly designed, your CTA should already be doing the work of drawing in users and enticing them to click. 

Alignment

Working similarly to spacing, alignment can help unify a page and organize information. Having consistent alignment affects the overall look of your page, so paying attention to how you place text and images is as important as the content itself.

If you forgo alignment, the overall professionalism of your page plummets. Having consistent margins and regular spacing shows a cohesiveness and attention to detail. Without it, your text and images would be strewn across a page without any consistency or hierarchy. 

To maintain effective alignment, pay attention to your webpages as a whole. It is easy to become hyper-focused on one aspect of a page while forgetting the rest, which can lead to effective design on some parts of the page and awkward design on others. This also goes for your site as a whole; maintain consistent alignment across webpages to establish a cohesive and professional site

One note to make about design: every rule is asking to be broken

Breaking the rules to enhance design can be tricky, which is why understanding the basics is essential to effective design

Once you are comfortable using standard design principles, you can begin pushing the limits. Following the rules can teach you how visuals impact engagement and attraction, and once you have mastered those principles you are ready to push the boundaries for more engaging and unique digital marketing

 

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