Good Design Makes Good Sense

Organized your pencils and pens lately? Sorted your clothes into a logical system in your drawers? Then you already understand the basic elements of good design: it's practical, it's systematic, and it makes life easier.

In the same way, marketing materials that use good design make business easier for your customers. Layout and presentation make the difference as to whether people will understand your products and services. This is why a well-designed ad outperforms one that's thrown together using intuition alone.

Well-designed materials become even more important as their complexity grows. For instance, an ad typically gets someone's attention for five seconds. In contrast, a brochure has the potential to claim much more of your prospect's time and commitment. Hand a customer a poorly-formatted, hard-to-read piece and you may lose them forever.

So is good design really as simple as organizing your tie collection? Well, not quite. But there are some hard and fast rules you can follow. Use this checklist for your next project. Structure and time your piece correctly, and then brace yourself for every businessperson's dream: informed customers who are ready to do business with your company.

Five Basics of Good Design

1. Never obscure your message. The KISS (Keep It Simple, Smarty) rule applies equally well to writing copy, creating graphics, and choosing a format.

2. Work backwards from your goal to your marketing piece. Listen to your customers' needs before you make a decision about how to fill them. A website may not initially appeal to you as a tool, but if your customer base is using the Internet, it may be a great way to deliver your message.

3. Present similar kinds of information in similar ways. People love to look for patterns. And we feel good when we find them, so let your customers in on that happy feeling. Chances are it will help them retain your information better and use it more effectively.

4. Save special effects for the 4th of July. Just because you can print in all caps in that cool new font, it doesn't mean you should. Readability wins out over gimmicks every time.

5. Be practical and be dedicated. Consider all the steps involved in a project, from the time you spend creating it all the way through to postage or follow-up calls. Commit to following through on every item or your project may not succeed.

Wendy Gray Maynard is the co-owner of Kinesis. Kinesis specializes in marketing, graphic design, and business writing. Visit http://www.kinesisinc.com for more articles and free marketing wisdom.

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