Creating an effective poster is different that designing for print flyers or brochures: you need to grab your audience’s attention in half a second, sometimes from across the street and you need to make sure you can communicate the main message clearly and fast. Here are 23 tips to ensure your next poster is a winner.
01. No clutter! If understanding a poster seems like work, a viewer will simply walk away.
02. Design the poster so the eye flows naturally across all the information in the order it should be read.
03. Make sure there’s some white space. White spaces give the eyes a little break from all the great graphics and text on your poster. Put some blank space around your text and see how much more pleasant it is to look at.
04. Use bright colours. Nothing grabs the eye like bright things.
05. Use contrast. Contrasting colours look good together but, most importantly, they make it easy to read your poster.
06. Use a colour wheel. If you aren’t sure how to pick colours that work well together, find a colour wheel and learn how to use it.
07. Don’t use too many colours. It will make the poster look chaotic.
08. Make sure the colours keep with your branding. If you’re a high-end, boutique hotel, hot pink posters may grab attention but you might not appeal to the customers you’re looking for.
09. Focus on a single message. Whether it’s an event, a special deal, a great product or a service just keep to the point. Now is not the time to get into your company history or your environmental policies, no matter how impressive they are.
10. Now that you’ve got the message down, keep it short. No matter how much of a poet you are, words always come second to graphics on effective posters.
11. Keep the text contained to one section, not scattered all over the page.
12. Make it catchy. Use all those poetic devices you learned about in high school to make your words ring in a reader’s ears long after they’ve walked away.
13. No more than two fonts. One for the heading and one for the rest of the text. Too many fonts will make a poster look cluttered.
14. Speaking of fonts… Choose fonts that are clear and easy to read from a distance (especially in the header).
15. Stick to one, unified image. If your poster is made up of five distinct paragraphs and half a dozen various clipart images, it just won’t work.
16. The design should be big and bold: something easy to recognise from a distance.
17. Make sure your image correlates to the poster’s message. Viewers will often process the image before they read the words.
18. Don’t use ambiguous images. Use images that clearly communicate the message of the poster, and only the message of your poster.
19. Don’t include too many graphic elements. Borders, shadows and textured backgrounds are nice but only if kept to a minimum. These elements should complement the main image and text, not overshadow them.
20. Remember it’s going to be big! Work with large images when you design. Blowing up the logo you use on your business cards will look blurry and terrible.
When it’s finished
21. Look at it big. Before you print, get a full-sized mock-up made just to make sure it looks they way you want it to.
22. Have it proofed. The more time you spend looking at something the less likely you are to see its glaring errors. Get some fresh eyes to look it over.
23. Have it made by professional poster printers. Having quality printing is the final touch in producing an effective poster.