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Design ads? Remember The Reader

Design ads? Remember The Reader

What do you think is one of the most important considerations when creating an ad design for newspaper, magazine or direct mail?

If you answered the readability, congratulations! Fancy graphics may notice the ad, but readers should be able to physically read the words. This elementary concept sounds simple, but is often ignored. If they can’t read it, they may not understand enough of your offer to respond.

With today’s sophisticated and virtually unlimited graphic computing options, it’s easy for the person advertising graphic design to believe that on-screen looks like a real piece of art!

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Here are some questions about ad design to ask:

  1. Do you want your ad to look different? Study some previous issues of the publication where your ad will appear. Often, publications themselves create ads (‘bar set’) and they may look the same. See if you can spot it. Then try to develop a graphic look different from the other ads. You can differentiate your ad from each other by using a different type of family that can be read easily.
  2. Is the ad readable? In their desire to be different and stylish, some of today’s magazines make reading difficult.

Here are some common issues. White type on a light pastel background. Or a light pastel type on a slightly darker background of the same color. Or colors that do not contrast well when viewed in black and white, such as dark forest green type printed on a red background of the fire truck.

It is better to give a larger, lighter type of head for a much darker background.

  1. Are you trying to put too much information in a small space? One of the big problems is trying to fit too many words and concepts into a small space.

Here is where small space is actually your friend. It forces you (or the author) to divide your ideas into simple words and simple concepts. Keep in mind that the purpose of many ads is to request an investigation and not tell the whole story.

Often, readers look at the details to find out if they want to act. The type that indicates these details should be big enough to see and understand, even for those who have problems with their vision. The type of color really should be 10 points, if not 11, to be read by the entire population.

With black and white newspaper advertisements it is possible to use fonts as small as 8 points, as their understanding by black type on newspaper is facilitated. In magazines, black as small as 4 points (on a white background) was used. The clarity is astounding, but many people need a magnifying glass!

Finally, ignoring these three considerations can be a disaster for the reader trying to understand the advertising message. Good ad design creates graphic effects that enhance the author’s words and contribute to the overall success of the ad.

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