The world of graphic design is a complex, multi-layered field and establishing yourself as a successful designer can be intimidating. Many people believe you need a college degree, years of studying, and a vast creative arsenal in order to design. This isn’t the case anymore. If you’re the type of person who does not consider themselves to be creative but have imminent design needs, fret not – there is hope for you. You can still utilize design for your business or personal life by following these 5 tips that will make you look like an expert.

Follow Guidelines

One of the main principles of any form of design is to follow lines, grids, and guidelines. Utilizing horizontal and vertical lines to build your framework is essential to making sure your design is symmetrical and visually appealing to the audience. Symmetry should be in place throughout the entire design. If you have two of the same fonts anywhere in the design, make sure the thickness and weight are matching. Using guidelines will help to avoid general human error when trying to balance or center text and images as well.

Look for Inspiration

Blasts of inspiration come in many forms and usually at unpredictable times. However, there are times where our minds are completely blocked. If you’re not a “designer” per say, but have a need for design, don’t be afraid to look around for inspiration. There are thousands of design blogs, Instagram feeds, and Tumblr timelines that post artwork from talented artists everywhere. Be sure that you are not completely taking someone’s idea or intellectual property as this is illegal. But if you see something that sparks an idea, feel free to put your own spin on it and make it a great design!

Minimal Design

When you aren’t well versed in design, it is easy to go overboard with experimentation. Minimalism cannot be stressed enough. Start with a solid foundation of color, fonts, and images and go from there. Making the design too busy will be overwhelming for the eye and can come off amateur and unprofessional. Less is more in a lot of cases and also saves you time and energy. Luckily for you, minimalist style is a popular design trend at the moment!

Study Typography

Picking fonts is important and can sometimes be overlooked as a part of graphic design. Research typography before you delve into your designs. Doing this will show you which fonts complement each other, which fonts clash, and the strategy behind using certain fonts. Typography not only helps you to communicate with your audience but it adds to the style of the design and commands attention. It consciously and unconsciously communicates ideas to your audience that can stir up emotion in them, get them to act on something (call to action), and generally affect the way that they react to your design – good or bad.

Color Psychology

In the same vein as typography, specific colors have a specific effect on people’s brains and eyes. By studying the psychology of colors, researching color wheels, and color swatches you can master this technique. As a beginner and non-designer it is important for you to keep things simple. Too many colors with no research can throw off the design and confuse the audience. If you’re going to use multiple colors make sure that they complement each other – sites like Coolors or Pantone can help you with this information. For example, if your design is communicating a message of optimism, happiness, or warmth yellow is perfect for that message and is also eye-catching. Many businesses use blue in their logo designs to symbolize trust and loyalty. Focus on how these colors will affect the mood and mind of your audience and choose carefully.

Free resources for design needs/inspiration:


Design Inspiration




Free Design

Eye Magazine

Design Week

The Dsgn Blog

Sekinah Brodie is a Marketing Assistant at Penji, a graphic design startup offering unlimited graphic design at a flat monthly rate. She is a community leader supporting her peers and local businesses with design, marketing, and community engagement. As a graduate of Hopeworks ‘n Camden and Montclair State University, she is experienced in web development, design, and communications. Sekinah enjoys writing and constantly learning about technology, entrepreneurship, and diversity in startups. She strives to empower women and minorities with job opportunities, career development, and positive representation.