6 Essential Design Tips for Non-Designers


As a marketing designer at AddThis, I work with designers as well as with non-designers. Sometimes with the overload of requests, I can’t get to everything, which means my non-design co-workers have to create their own images or landing pages. Because I know others out there may be in similar positions, I put together a list of best practices for all the non-designers who may need to design something on their own every now and then.

Here are 6 things you should keep in mind while working on your next design project:

Typography Fundamentals

Typography plays a big role in creating visual hierarchy and contrast. One quick tip is to use multiples sizes. Pick your lowest font size first and go from there. If your smallest is 12px, which is the body copy, then use 24px for the heading and 48px or 72px for the title. This is the sort of methodology I recommend. Here’s an example of how I implemented this in a recent design:


In this promo design, my smallest font size is 12px. I then go up to 96px to create visual hierarchy and contrast. Also, try not to use more than two typefaces. Stick with one if you aren’t sure what to pair it with. Here’s a great website that helps you pair fonts that look good together.

You should also minimize your use of font weights to two or less. For example, use bold for headlines and light or regular for copy. The more font weights you use, the more chaotic it gets for the reader to interpret.

White Space

We’ve all heard of it, but are we really using it appropriately? Giving elements breathing room makes a world of difference. Refer to the above example for using enough white space. Spacing in between the lines is also very important. Not too much, but not too tight either.

Keep It Simple

I’m sure you’ve heard this from many people, but just to reinforce – simplicity never fails. When in doubt – subtract. That’s the best design advice I’ve ever gotten. Make it easy on your audience. Don’t let it get too cluttered.

Color Theory

Picking colors is not an easy task. But, there are tools out there that’ll help you create shades of a color or find complementary colors. Adobe Kuler is a great tool to help you with this process, as is Palettab. Try to pick 1-2 colors.


These days every website has a style of photography they use. To match that on social or other marketing collateral, you need to pick the right photos. However, picking the right high resolution photos can be time consuming. For good free photography resources, refer to my other post and you’ll be golden.


It’s important to keep your design elements consistent. For example, if you’re using one style of button on one part of the page, make sure you use the same style on the rest of the page or document. If you’re using photography in the header of the page, make sure you keep it consistent with the rest of the art assets.

Also, here’s a graphic design website that has templates you can use for a lot of elements like presentations, posters, social images, and more. It’ll save you a lot of time if you need something really quickly. It’s called Canva. If you’re Mac user – I recommend using Keynote instead of Microsoft PowerPoint to make presentations. They have much cleaner templates.

Keep the principles above in mind and you’ll be on your way to becoming a better designer in no time. Let us know your what you think! What else can we add to the mix?