“Can I improve visual design skills if I am not a designer? I don’t even have such skills!” This is only partly true. You can appreciate if two colours look great together or clash in an unpleasant way. You feel underwhelmed by boring, uninspired graphics. You are not likely to spend too much time on a web page with a busy design that causes eye fatigue.
It’s all about translating these natural instincts into a set of skills that help you create good graphics for your marketing materials, be it illustrations for a blog post or a Facebook cover image.
How Much Time Do You Need to Improve Visual Design Skills?
Let us address another objection that we can see coming from you and all the other readers: the time issue. Yes, we know that you are busy running your business. And this is why we considered this aspect in selecting the advice we will give you in this article.
You don’t have to set aside a couple of hours each day to improve visual design skills. It’s an organic learning process that, as you will see, involves finding inspiration and understanding what works in each visual piece you like.
Actionable Ways to Improve Visual Design Skills
Let us get to the nitty-gritty now. Some of these advice items will appear common sense to you, but take the time to analyse their meaning and apply them consistently.
1. Start with the Colour Palette
Whenever you want to create an illustration or take a photo to use in your marketing, consider the colours included in the artwork. You want to create graphics that complement your brand colours.
For instance, if your logo is dark blue and white, orange, fuchsia and pink do not work well with the brand colours. Look at the official images used by The Facebook Team, for example. They match the colour palette of their visual identity elements.
2. Find Inspiration and then Create Something Original
One of the simplest ways to have a stock of graphics for your marketing work is purchasing stock photos. The problem with these photos is that they are generic. They do not represent the people working for you, your offices or your store.
If you really like a stock photo, consider what exactly you find appealing. The colours? The contrasts? The dynamic of the people? This is how you improve visual design skills. And once you know what you like, you can go ahead and create your own photos, with your own team and at your own headquarters.
3. Understand the Role of Scale and Proportion
You may have already seen online a few unfortunate photo montages where people appear as tall as buildings or able to grasp a car in their hand. This is why scale and proportions are so important.
When you take photos or create illustration, consider how much space each object takes. Does the angle of a photo dwarf your office building compared to a nearby tree? Does an element you added to an illustration make a person look ridiculously tall or short? Once you realise the problem, you’ve improved visual design skills already.
4. Pay Attention to Contrast and Colour Saturation
Contrast makes the difference between a bright, cheerful image and a gloomy one. As for colour saturation, if you do not put the basic tones (red, yellow, green and blue) in perfect balance, people’s faces will appear deathly white or sunburnt.
Most image editing software solutions offer an auto option for adjusting saturation and contrast. While you learn to improve your visual design skills, use this useful function to edit your photos.
5. Keep It Simple and with Lots of White Space
Simplicity is one of the hardest things to achieve in design. There’s always the temptation to make things perfect by adding one more font, one more element or one more colour. But, as the saying goes, don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.
One of the key lessons you need to improve visual design skills is embracing simplicity. Clean design is easy on the eye and encourages the reader to continue browsing. It denotes professionalism, as it looks neat and ordered. Last, but not least, it allows readers to focus on the written content instead of getting distracted by a busy design.