Part IV: Putting it
all together

• Planning a
cohesive design
• Thumbnails
• Designing to a format
• Grids and systems
• Developing judgment
• TRY IT: 10 minute thumbnail
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The unmistakeable marks of novice designers:

Graphic distractions

Beware of embellishments. Horizontal rules, graphic bullets, icons, and other visual markers have occasional uses, but apply them sparingly (if at all) to avoid a patchy, confusing layout.

The tools of graphic emphasis should be used only in small doses for maximum impact. Overuse leads to a "clown's pants" effect where everything is garish and nothing is emphasized.

Overly bold typography

Don't try to make everything look 'cool.' If everything shouts, then nothing is important. If too many fonts are used, the piece will not project with a clear voice. Avoid hokey, hard-to-read typefaces or pre-made type effects available in the layout programs such as drop shadow, outline, zoom...

Illegible typography

Remember to squint to look for adaquate contrast. If the type appears on a busy background, no one will be able to read it. If the color is too light or too distracting, we'll move on.

Overcrowding: no room to breathe

Yes, paper - and web space - is expensive. Yes, you don't have enough room. But try to avoid the temptation to fill every inch of the page. There's a saying in the East: a bowl cannot exist without the space inside. Your words and pictures depend on a certain amount of space around them to allow the message to stand out.

Garish colors

Again, think "clown." Is that the impression you want to create? Devise a color scheme of a few well-chosen colors and stick to it.


Don't try a bit of everything, to make the design look more "interesting." It doesn't work. Pick a few simple elements and use a grid to support the alignment and repetition that make good design stand out!


next: 10 minute critique and thumbnail