05 Apr Design with content as KING
It’s time-consuming to create quality content that is engaging, exciting and innovative but if the editorial design is poor, no one is going to engage with it anyway.
Traditionally, editorial design referred to printed publications such as newspapers, magazines and brochures but nowadays many of these media have been digitalised and are read online.
The design of your publication or web page has a big impact on how readers engage with your content. Good editorial design makes use of typography, visual elements and an innovative layout to organise information in a clear and cohesive way that attracts readers to the content.
Here are some tips on how to design your web page or printed document and boost your content to the next level:
- Design for visual flow
Visual flow refers to how people’s eyes naturally move and are directed through a composition. Good editorial design makes use of design elements and a visual hierarchy to ensure that readers’ eyes jump to important and key information first.
Research has shown that people tend to scan dense online content in an F shaped pattern. This means they read the top, upper left corner and left sides of the screen first, and only occasionally look at the right side of the page. This is why many online pages place important informational elements such as the menu, logo and call to action on the left side of the screen.
The F reading pattern is true mainly for information-dense layouts. When a simple and clean design is used, people tend to read in a Z shape.
While these reading patterns are important to keep in mind as a foundational layout idea, sticking too closely to these design shapes can lead to a dull and predictable page. Designers need to use creativity, innovation and a variety of design elements to bring pages to life and keep readers engaged.
Good editorial design takes into account how people naturally scan a page but is also able to influence and guide readers to key information to ensure they grasp the main message and encourage them to delve further into the copy.
- Use a visual hierarchy to highlight important information
You may ask yo
urself how to draw attention to the important informational elements of your page or site. The answer is visual hierarchy.
Through the use of different compositional design elements, you can visually communicate what is essential information to readers.
Here are some design elements you can use to do this:
- Size is simplest way to attract attention. A large section of text or a big image is a sure-fire way to tell people to ‘look here’. However, it will only be perceived as large if other elements are much smaller in comparison. It’s about how all the elements fit together and their relative sizes within the broader design.
- Pull out quotes and captions are a great way to extract key information from a large body of text. The purpose of which is to either sum up the general idea or pique the reader’s attention to engage them to reader further.
- Colour: People are drawn to bright colours rather than black, white or muted tones. Furthermore, lighter colours give the illusion of being further away compared with darker, richer tones.
- White space: It may be tempting to try and include as much information as possible on your page but people are likely to switch off if they are bombarded with too many visual elements and large amounts of text. White space gives readers a break and organises information into blocks to create a sense of order and balance.
- Typography: People often underestimate the importance of typography. Selecting the right font can be the difference between an enjoyable read or not.
You can convey a lot about the importance of information with only type. Type that is underlined, italicized or has a heavier stroke draws attention to the text. These types can be used to create headings, subheadings, pull out quotes or a side bar of information.
Another consideration is whether to choose a serif or sans serif font. A serif font is one that has a decorative line or a taper added to the start and/or end of a letter’s stem, whereas a sans serif font does not.
Each type conveys a different look and feel and should align with the overall branding of your publication or web site.
- Organise information for your reader
Smart editorial design is all about organising information in a way that makes it easy and enjoyable for readers to digest.
When it comes to publications there are tried and tested methods of organising body copy with the use of a grid layout.
The way your grid is set up will differ based on the type of information with which you are working. The grid could be made of columns and blocks or it could be modular or hierarchal. These layouts allow designers to group text in an organised and coherent way.
Other ways that designers can make information easier to take in, include switching out a body of text for an infographic or using visual elements as navigational tools.
When we created this facilitator guide, we designed a table of icons that represented a set of actions to be taken at a certain point. Readers are able to quickly gage what do in each scenario instead of taking the time to read a set of instructions.
- Designing for content on different devices
Keep in mind that many people on-the-go will read your content on their mobile phone or tablet. This means your design needs to work across devices or you need an adaptable design for each device.
Designing for smaller screen dimensions can be more challenging as certain design elements such as white space and size differentiation have limited use. This is when other elements such as the use of colour becomes more important.
Clever and effective design is about much more than simply making something look pretty. Here at Gap Design, we have the skills and passion to take large amounts of text and turn it into something that’s visually interesting and easy to digest. From print and online publications to guides, books and catalogues, we are masters at visual communication and can help you with your needs today.