• Judah (Design Ninja)

Achieve that Simple Design That POPS with Readability (3 of 8)

"If you can't read it, you don't need it!" -My Art Prof, who quoted his Design Prof

My 11-year-old, Shiloh has always been shy. She'll approach me and rapidly fire dialogue in a little, soft tone. It's really cute...I just can't understand what she's saying.

This scenario reminds me of a design issue that often derails a quality design...the issue of READABILITY. If you've ever found yourself spinning your wheels trying to direct your designer to that perfectly simple design that POPS...keep reading! 

Two weeks ago I started a practical mini-seriesdesigned to put Art Director tools in your hand - easy ways to understand the design principles that make an awesome design awesome. 

Back to my daughter, Shiloh. I have to remind her that I'm really interested in hearing what she has to say...she just needs to speak slowly, clearly and audibly if she wants me to respond. 

Last week, I explained how every design element is saying something. And, similar to my advice to Shiloh...

...if we want our target market to respond to our branding design efforts, there's an absolute need for READABILITY. 

You might be thinking, "duh!" But wait! It's very common to miss this. 

Common Readability Killers:

  1. Too many words (Hierarchy issue discussed next email)

  2. Word placement (Proximity issue discussed in a few weeks)

  3. Background images (Contrast issue discussed in a few weeks)

  4. Out-of-character design element (Repetition issue discussed in a few weeks)


This list could go on, and unlike the example of my interest in Shiloh's message, often our target market is NOT interested in ours. 

Be encouraged, however! There's one, simple trick that helps identify 90% of all readability mistakes. It's so easy that you're going to be thinking "really???". 

Zoom out. Way out. View your design tiny, as in, thumbnail size. 

For a logo design, who is it? 




For a package design, what is the product, and what does it do?




For a tradeshow booth, whose booth is it?





Whatever the design, is the message clear? Is there visual ambiguity? 

Design readability is achieved when all design elements clearly convey a unified, harmonious message.

And it's easy to identify when we view the design from far away.

How do we achieve that simple design that POPS? So far, we've covered:

Week 1: How basic design principles will help us succeed

Week 2: How all graphics visually say something

Week 3 (today): How to identify Readability issues


In two weeks, I'll talk about the king of all design principals, also known as Visual Hierarchy. Following this principle will get your design in order right away! 


Until then..."if you can't read it, you don't need it!" May you have perfectly readable designs :)

(Yet to come: Hierarchy, Contrast, Repetition, Alignment and Proximity to round out the C.R.A.P. +3 Design Principles)

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© Judah Creative Studio, LLC 2018