The use of layout, visual balance, color, type and more to convey complex concepts in a clean and simple manner.

A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words

A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words

Using visual images simplifies your message and supports or often takes the place of added text. It’s shorthand for a concept or something hard to describe.

People’s visual recognition and association is very quick. Images communicate quickly. It‘s like the saying, “a picture is worth 1000 words”. But only if it is the right visual.

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designer life hacks

Steal These 18 Designer Life Hacks

When I graduated college and was seeking a design job I had the critical design knowledge I needed but practical real world knowledge has come with experience. Newly minted designers might appreciate the real world wisdom in these simple life hacks.

Be confident.
Don’t take rejection personally. Your work will not be accepted by all. It doesn’t mean your work is not good design.

Be authentic.
You can’t be everything to everyone. Develop your YOU. Try different ways of presenting to discover a style that works best for you.

Be focused.
Follow your path and be open to where it leads. Focus on your design strengths and find a niche.

Be positive.
Keep the faith. A positive attitude will help you succeed.

Believe in yourself.
Continue to love what you do. Don’t lose the love of your craft or your ability to be great at it.

Be resilient.
Don’t give up. Revisions are a fact of life. For the mostpart, they are meant to make the end product as good as it can be.

Be social.
Be open to meeting new people in all walks of life. You never know where someone might lead.

Be easy to get along with.
Work well with people. It’s a fact… people will do business with people they like. It is the easiest way to keep a client or a co-worker happy. Getting along with those around you everyday is just about everything. It doesn’t matter how good a designer you are if you don’t play well with others!

Be timely.
Adhere to timelines. Hone the skill of managing your time well and you will be a far better worker than most. As Woody Allen is quoted as saying, “80 percent of success is showing up.”

Be reliable.
Do what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going  do it. Don’t let people down.

Be honest.
Integrity is a highly regarded trait. Adhere to moral and ethical principles.

Be happy.
People enjoy being around and including others who are happy. This can also reflect in your design solutions.

Be curious.
Ask many questions about how others hone their design skills. Find out the best and most efficient way to do things and why.

Be inquisitive.
Great design begins with asking the right questions – getting at the heart of the problem you’re setting out to solve. The key to a successful design can be hidden in what a client, a user, a boss or a co-worker says. Learn to listen.

Be a student.
Keep learning. Set aside time for developing your skills and experimenting.

Be humble.
Know you are not the smartest person in the room, even if you are 😉

Be grateful.
Appreciate your gifts. Help others be good at what they do too.

Be the best you can be.



A Reading Guide For Designers Who Want To Write

What I Wish I Knew About My First Pay Check by Michael Grothaus, Fast Company


Design Made Simple

What marketing tool gives you the biggest bang for your buck?

Yes, you guessed it! Business cards! If you do anything well to help grow your business, make it your business card!

I recently had a conversation with a businessperson about their card. (Disclaimer: We did not design their card.)

For demonstration purposes, I have blurred the type so the details are unrecognizable, yet the size of the type somewhat apparent. The contact information is running 90 degrees on the edge of the card, black type on gray/silver background. As an aside, this is in no way a reflection of their business and only meant to demonstrate a designers viewpoint.

A problem….


They stated that their customers complained the phone number (at 90 degrees) wasn’t readable.

Their solution?


Thinking the size of the type as the problem, they reprinted and added the phone number very large on the back of the card. Yet, this still did not solve the problem.

Why, you ask?

There is a simple explanation… because there is not enough differentiation between the gray/silver color of the numbers and the black background color of the card. As a matter of fact, it is so subtle that some people might not see this differentiation at all – large or not. In this case, size does not matter! But color does.

A simple solution….

I suggested they print the letters/numbers in white on the black background and their customers will have no readability problems. Just think… they may possibly get more business! It’s the simple things.

Why Your Brand Needs A Design Style Guide?

Consistency in the design of your brand’s marketing materials creates a sense of logic for your audience. People like consistency because they know what to expect. It helps aid their comprehension of your material. If your branded marketing pieces are distracting and confusing to scan, your audience won’t get your message. Inconsistency forces them to stop and process what the difference means, why it’s different, and if there is any reason to continue. Ease of interaction yields better experiences and, thus, the need for consistency. Read more

Cotter Visual Synergist

24 Ways Great Design Makes The World A Better Place

It’s a pretty lofty statement but design has come into its own in recent years. Embraced by everyone whether they are aware of it or not, great design makes the world easier to understand. It affects us all in more ways than we imagine. And we rarely give it much thought.

So here are my thoughts on how design makes the world a better place.

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11 Simple Rules To Communicating With Type

We like to make all communications easy for viewers to read. And of course we never want to create stumbling blocks to their concentration and comprehension!

1  Avoid distracting “widows”, “rivers” and “orphans”.

Rivers are a series of word spaces on consecutive lines of type that align more or less one over the other to create the appearance of a visual river in the text. Rivers can be vertical, diagonal, or even curved. They can be hard to ignore and divert your reader’s eyes, competing for needless attention.

A widow is a single word alone on a line at the end of a paragraph.
Orphans are single lines of copy alone at the bottom or top of a page or column.

2  Optimal Type Alignment – Aligned Left, Right, Justified, or Centered?

Justified body copy creates more rivers, undesirable letter- and word-spacing and hyphenation issues. If you must justify, there are a few things you can do to minimize visual disturbances. Adjust the size of margin, decrease the body copy size, or manually hyphenate the text.

Right-aligned and centered are generally not used for body copy. Left-aligned text is just right!

3  Insert only a single space after all punctuation.

4  Avoid underlined text. In today’s world this is a visual cue that the text is a hyperlink. Emphasis can be achieved by using italic or bold.

5  Text longer than a short headline or subhead should never be in all caps. As a rule use upper/lowercase letters.

6  Increase line spacing to improve readability in body text.

7  Ensure sufficient color contrast between the type and its background.

8  Lines of type should not exceed 52 characters in length, or two alphabets. When lines are too long, readers may lose their place in returning to the next line.

9  For a single-column width – 4.25 inches is ideal and a two-column width can be as narrow as 2 inches.

10  Avoid letterspacing upper/lowercase copy.

11  Create a hierarchy of messaging with your type. Which one or two messages do you want to command the viewer’s attention? Vary their size and weight accordingly and direct the viewer’s eyes.

Read more about Visually Leading Your Viewers With Intent.

Keep these simple rules in your arsenal to ensure your copy is readable and have fun with type!

Visual Hierarchy

To be an effective designer, we have to be able to clearly communicate selected ideas to viewers or we lose their attention.

People see designs in terms of relationships. Seeing similarities and differences or just “seeing” is how we organize our world. Our brains synthesize information by grouping similar visual elements and organizing them into meaningful patterns. Information that is organized with a hierarchy in mind will always be more effective at communicating than information that is not organized.

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