Day 9 - Create Some Room To Breathe
Welcome to Day #9 of the 31 Days to Better Branding series! To learn more about this series, click here and find links to the other days so you'll be able to follow along or catch up if you happen to miss anything. I am by no means an expert but after hearing a lot of the same questions, I figured others could benefit from a few lessons in branding. Hopefully it will give you a place to begin or even just a few tips to improve your business and bring you more clients. Feel free to add in your thoughts and what has worked for you in the comments!
Today I'm going to get straight to the point. When it comes to appearance, especially online appearance, this one little detail gets overlooked all the time. But once it's added in it makes a huge impact. And that detail is...
B r e a t h i n g r o o m.
White space, as well as keeping things aligned, unified, and simple in your design can instantly make you appear more professional. Sometimes we can get excited, adding as much fun detail and content as possible, forgetting how quickly it can become overwhelming to a viewer. Most people hate scrolling. Most people hate when they can't find something quickly. Most people don't like when there's not a clear focal point. Most people hate feeling cramped.
Sometimes empty areas are a good thing. For example, choose which workspace you would rather have - 1) an enormous, all white room with big windows letting in the fresh breeze and a large desk neatly organzied or 2) a stuffy cubicle with no windows, shared with a coworker who leaves piles of stuff everywhere including all over your desk. That same concept can transfer to your design so don't be afraid to keep it clean.
Before we go any further with design ideas this week, lets do a little decluttering...kind of like cleaning the house before redecorating. Here are a few suggestions to help clean up your visual space...
Blogs & Websites
*Simplify. Do you have one large focal point? Is it what you really want emphasized?
*Dividers are your friend. Can you split up some of your content with lines, titles, ribbons, or just negative space?
*Narrow down your sidebar content. Do you really need 35 categories? With images? Remember people hate to scroll.
*Could you replace social media widgets with small button links that match the rest of your branding?
*Can you make sponsored ads coordinate so it won't feel overwhelming? Ask your sponsors to use a specific color or layout and then use a grid with extra margin space to make them appear less cluttered.
*Do you have good margins? Sometimes you can trick the eye and create an easier read by making paragraphs more narrow or with wider spacing. You can also do this with slightly larger font or more spacing between letters and lines.
*Set up a nice flow with titles, bold type and spacing when you change subjects.
*LEFT ALIGN your copy. Please please please don't center your text (unless it's a headline).
*Add space or a line before and after an image if you feel like it cuts too close to your copy.
*Can you use grouping to make your layout stronger?
*Do you have balance? Large and dark objects (like a lot of text, an image, or a main headline) need more space around them.
*Is there a hierarchy? Make sure your fonts, colors, and images aren't competing for attention. This creates visual stress and chaos.
*Use a grid. Try to get everything as lined up as possible with equal distance apart.
These seem like really small details, but they make a huge difference in professionalism. It can also be really hard to notice these details in your own work so I recommend asking a few friends or coworkers what their experience is when viewing your space.
Homework: Create some space! :)