Early in my career, an art director I was working with gave me this advice: “Don’t overcook it.” That was his way of telling me that tinkering can destroy an otherwise great design.
“Great design” is simply the right combination of elements — and when you have the right mix, adding just one more thing can muck it up. How do you know when it’s time to stop stirring the pot? Here are a few tips:
- Take advantage of thumbnails. They’re free, so create as many as you want. It’s a time-honored practice that designers don’t utilize as much as they should. Thumbnails can help weed out bad ideas and let you see the design from a different perspective.
- Be aware of balance, color, white space and Keep your design clean and free of clutter, and don’t get sidetracked by gimmicks. I start off with the bare necessities and build from there, adding just one element at a time.
- It’s also important to step away, even if just for a moment. Readjust your eyes, eat something, read email, talk to someone — anything to give your mind a break. You’ll be amazed at what you notice after some time away from the work.
- Look at the piece as the audience will see it. If it’s for print, print it out and view it with a different light. If it’s for mobile, open the piece in a window that mimics the device and view it at a different orientation. This can reveal subtle changes that might take the design from meh to wow!
- Finally, trust your instincts. If a voice inside tells you that you’re going in the wrong direction, stop and listen. Then step back and recalibrate — and check those thumbnails.
Image by: © Artyom Rudenko – stock.adobe.com