Anyone can create their own graphics these days with easy to use design platforms and native design options in social media, website, and email programs. However, there are several simple principles to keep in mind when creating these graphics to ensure what is being created will be effective in telling a story, selling a brand or product, or sharing important information.
Below are some of these best practices. These are geared towards graphics intended for social media use, but can also apply to other use cases like websites and printed materials.
THINGS TO DO
- Do include a business name or logo if it is sharing proprietary info – e.g., announcing an event, insights from a research study, or simply a product image
- Do ensure the main information or design is within the live display dimensions – repurposing graphics across platforms is efficient but there is a risk that the image may show up strangely in the feed of another platform if all dimensions aren’t taken into account
- Do proofread – no matter how catchy and creative your design is, one typo can make it ineffective or worse yet, inappropriate and offensive
- Do keep it in your visual identity – make sure the image matches the brand
- Do experiment – marketing is often a series of test and learn projects and design can certainly be an important part of that process
THINGS TO AVOID
- Don’t steal images or photos without proper rights or credits – this is just bad form and illegal
- Don’t assume someone will read the caption or text accompanying the graphic – if the image doesn’t capture someone’s attention or tell the story, then it may not be adding value
- Don’t forget about the nanosecond test – if the goal is promoting safe shopping in a store, then make sure the picture shows the physical distance, masks, and sanitizing being enforced
- Don’t be misleading – in other words, don’t create false advertising or a “bait and switch” campaign
- Don’t forget about other formats – sometimes simple text, an animated gif, series of graphics, or a video might work better than one static image
Sometimes simpler is better. When it doubt, keep it straightforward and clean with one message. And remember, font size matters!