How Non-Designers Can Improve Their Visual Design Skills

How Non-Designers Can Improve Their Visual Design Skills

January 25, 2017
Annette Maggi

By RDBA Executive Director, Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

Visual engagement is central to effective nutrition behavior change education. Not only does today’s consumer prefer visuals to words, but the brain more effectively processes and remembers information that is visual. Each day, retail RDs engage in work that is visual – whether it’s creating a shopper or colleague presentation, designing a tip sheet on a nutrition topic, or reaching consumers through social media.

So how can you enhance your design skills to more effectively communicate your message?

Even if you don’t have the budget for a design team or the time or desire to spend your free time taking classes in graphic design, you can enhance your skills in this area. Consider these tips:

  • Learn to identify good design. When you’re remodeling your house or considering a new hairstyle, you flip through lots of examples to find what you like.  Do the same with design. Find examples of pieces similar to what you are looking to do (think slide deck, infographic, or consumer tip sheet), and select those that resonate with you as a consumer. Study well designed pieces and ask yourself what makes them so good.  
  • Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. While sitting in a presentation or participating in a webinar, I often find myself noticing slide designs that I love. I screen shot them and put them in a file. In this way, I keep a running ideation file, and when I need to build a new slide deck, have ideas on how to present information in a visually appealing way.
  • Experiment. The key to finding what works best in reaching your shoppers is to try lots of ideas and simply put them out there for reaction. Instead of using the same font, colors and layout for every piece you put together, mix things up and see what reaction you get. 
  • Remember design basics. Use a color wheel to determine what options work well together. Consider that white space is an effective way to draw attention to something without using extravagant colors or pictures. Consider the harmony of your page or piece, which is achieved in part by using the same types of images instead of combining photos and clip art or too many different fonts. Consider the size and scale of pictures, logos, and fonts.
  • Pick up a book. I know our natural tendencies as RDs is to focus our continuing education on nutrition topics, but the next time you have a long plane or train ride or when you hit the treadmill, choose a design book.  Click here for a list to get you started.