Design Tools: Helping get your content read

The best design is the design that you don’t know is there.

When someone asks a graphic designer what we do, we might say something like, “We make things look pretty.” But there is more to design than looking pretty. Our job is to make your story engaging, fun and easy to read without anyone knowing why. And our job is to help tell your story, through typography, images and design.

Here are some ways we do it.

We start out with hierarchy: What will be the most engaging part of the page? More often than not, the answer to that question is: the photo. When possible, we like to make our photos the dominate on the page because the photo draws people in. But the photo can’t tell the whole story. So that’s where the text steps in. Hierarchy is also applied to the text of the story using type size and weight. We organize the text, using hierarchy to guide the reader through the story. Then we start adding the design elements.

To get a reader engaged with your story, we want to convey the correct look and feel.

We often write about sensitive subjects that people shy away from, so how we design the stories is very important. For instance, dark and gray colors might be used to convey a serious or sensitive topic. But we wouldn’t use them for a publication that is supposed to bring awareness to the local pet adoption center. For that publication, we might select bright and warm colors. That lets the reader know that they are going to read something that will make them feel happy. That’s how we hope they will feel when they think about adopting a new pet into their family.

Next time you look at a designed page, we hope you’ll think about how and why the page was designed the way it was.

– Kate, for the N&R Publications design team

Related: Our Design Process