Top 3 Rules for Good Design and When to Break Them

Good designers know the tried and true standard rules of design whether they obtained this knowledge through formal education or experience. They also when to break the rules in order to most effectively convey a message to the intended audience. You don’t have to be a highly trained designer to implement solid design practices on your trade show display. If you get stuck, reach out to our in-house graphic designer who can help you craft a successful visual backdrop for your product or service.

Rule of thirds

A guiding principle of good design is the Rule of Thirds. This is a three by three grid upon which you should place main elements at the intersection of the grid. This keeps the main element from being smack dab in the middle of the page. By offsetting the focus, you create tension, movement and interest. This is a photographer’s number one tool when composing photographs.

There is something unsettling about having the focus of a graphic centered. Perhaps that’s the message you are attempting to convey with your trade show exhibit. If your target audience would benefit from being jolted out of the comfortable feeling that the Rule of Thirds helps to facilitate, then this may be a rule to break.

Rule of Thirds

Visual hierarchy

Visual hierarchy is the varying weight of elements in a design. The heading of an article contrasted with the text or copy of that article creates visual importance. Because the heading is a larger text size it holds more weight and is more important. You can play with this rule of visual hierarchy to style the level of importance in your design leading a customer’s eye to the most vital information.

In contrast, you could visually weight all elements equally. You could use a monochromatic color palate, a single font and text size, and hope customers stop and inquire as to why. You could also be quite dramatic and keep all elements the same but then highlight one word or phrase or product specification allowing it to stand alone.

Color theory

As a business owner you certainly know your target audience. You know their demographics, likes and dislikes, the kind of car they drive and pet they have at home. With this level of detail, you should be able to apply some color theory to your designs. Blue invokes certain responses, orange other responses, a gray tone color palate will lead customers to yet another conclusion and reaction. Know your customers, apply the rules of color theories and watch the engagement rates increase.

However, if your target demographic reacts most positively to red, but your company is striving to be a leader in the eco market, you may opt to break this rule. Likewise, if a design screams to be purple, but your target demographic despises the color then you’ll want to go with the best choice to increase your bottom line.

Color Theory

These are just a few design principles to keep in mind when creating the graphics for your next trade show exhibit booth. Once you know the rules of good design, and why they exist, you’ll be able to know when breaking the rules will be more beneficial than toeing the line.

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