The Ins and Outs of Graphic Design


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What do a Coke bottle, an airplane ticket, and a book cover all have in common? All rely on graphic design to convey a certain message, no matter how different these messages might be! This week we have shifted gears and have begun our discussion on graphic design. I’ve learned that graphic design involves much more than a hipster drawing in a sketchbook or a website designer laying out a website. Then, what exactly is graphic design?

What is graphic design?

When a graphic designer is asked to describe what graphic design means to her:

When asked “What is graphic design?”

I think the latter video sums it up best. “Graphic design is just about everything!” Its remarkable to think about the variety of elements that graphic designers must mold together to create a cohesive and interesting product. Luckily, Allison Goodman provides simple instructions for creating engaging and rewarding designs in her book The 7 Essentials of Graphic Design. She describes graphic design as the process of expressing “the true essence of a client’s business or organization” (10).

Chapter One: Research

Goodman claims that all design must begin with research because it allows designers to become acquainted with the person or business they are designing for! Research helps the designer generate fresh ideas using the learned information from research and encourages the designer to establish design goals with the client.

Chapter Two: Typography

Deliberate typography choices are essential in good design. While these choices may seem subtle or can be overlooked, consistent and contrasting font choices add clarity and strength to your message! Goodman calls typography “a hidden art” for this reason. Two key principles of typography are readability and legibility!


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Goodman also stresses the importance of visual compatibility. She encourages mixing fonts to enhance visual appeal, but reminds designers to choose obviously different fonts instead of similar ones. She also warns against changing too much at once. Rather than changing the size, weight, and type of the typeface all at once, only change one variable at a time! This process of limiting will prevent your design from becoming cluttered!

Chapter Three: Contrast

Contrast creates organization and hierarchy in a design. By contrasting certain elements in a design, a designer can successfully assign a higher value to something they see as being the most important. Notice how in this Apple ad, the black silhouettes sharply contrast with the white iPods. My eye is immediately drawn to the iPod because it stands out against the black and the bright colors.


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Chapter Four: Layout

Layout, like contrast, also contributes to the hierarchy in a design. Think of it as a map that directs viewers where to look next. In a digital sense, layouts are rapidly evolving because “users can go forward, backward, in, out, and all around” (71). As a result, Goodman says layouts must have a varying visual rhythm. If you’re listening to a speech, you’ll quickly lose interest if the speaker speaks in the same tone the entire time. Similarly, if the visual elements of the layout remain static, viewers will become uninterested or distracted.

Stay on the lookout for more graphic design tips!

Discussion Questions:

  1. How would you define graphic design?
  2. Which fonts do you find easiest to read?

Until next blog,



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