Learning how to design a poster is an essential skill for any marketer. Posters have been used by many businesses for a range of purposes. Whether it’s to promote an event, educate an audience about a company’s features and mission, or to engage a following. They’ve been used in print as well as digitally.
After all, what other forms of communication can get information out to the masses with minimal effort?
Visual content, particularly posters and infographics have been known to lead to extremely high engagement compared to other visual formats. In fact, 41.5% of marketers surveyed have said visuals such as original graphics have outperformed content types like stock photos and even video.
A tweet or Facebook share is not nearly as effective without some form of visual attached as well.
Whether you’re creating a poster for a school dance, a club meeting or a volunteer opportunity the goal is always the same:
- To inform readers about the event.
- To encourage readers to participate.
Here’s the thing: to create a beautiful and informative poster you don’t actually have to be a designer.
With the right poster maker tool, it doesn’t even have to take a long time or a ton of effort to create one.
And with these four simple tips, created specifically for non-designers, almost anyone can create a stunning poster.
Only include the most important information
Posters are great for getting the word out about an event, organization or club.
You can quickly promote general information to the masses in an inexpensive and effective way.
And if people want to learn more they can check out the website or social media accounts that are listed.
Plus they are incredibly easy to create for even the most novice designers.
This is why posters are still used in both traditional print and digital formats to this day.
The only problem with how easy they are to create is sometimes people add the wrong information or too much information for that matter.
In fact, many people are unaware that the most important information you need to include on on your poster is the event description, the date, the time, the location of the event, and where people can access more information if needed.
Here’s an example of what a good poster design might look like:
It doesn’t omit any of the key aspects and presents the information in a way that is easy to read.
Anything more than the information above would make it look more like a document or a report rather than a poster.
And has anyone truly ever been excited to read a document hanging on a wall?
When in doubt, follow this hierarchy of information:
- Name of the event.
- Company or department title
- Short description of the event or a catchy tagline.
- Date and time of the event.
- Location of event.
- If necessary, where they can find more information (like a website or social media page or handles).
Those are the only six things, at the max, that you should be including.
Honestly, you could get away with even less depending on your event or organization too.
Just like in this example:
They only check three of those six boxes but still present a beautiful and informative poster.
Sometimes more is less, and when it comes to creating an informative poster, you want to make a visual that stands out and gives your audience the information that is most crucial. Anything in addition to that isn’t necessary and can be sent in a follow-up email or newsletter.
Keep your design simple
Having too much written information is not the only way you can overdo it and ruin your poster.
Designing something that distracts from the main point of the poster can also tank your poster’s effectiveness.
The main goal is to inform people, and if your design hinders that goal, you should reconsider how you are laying out your content.
One of the easiest ways to design a simple poster is to only use one central image or primary graphic.
This is where a lot of new designers can run afoul. The assumption is that people need to include a lot of images or icons, but a single image is actually more effective because it doesn’t pull their attention away from the important facts.
The main image may catch their eye, like in the example below, without being too distracting.
In this case, it actually adds to the poster because it primes the audience on what the poster’s central theme is before they even read it. Even though we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, so many people do.
Another simple way to make sure your design compliments your information is to have a single bold or heavy title font. This is referred to as typographic hierarchy.
This font should not be used anywhere else on the poster and serve as a point for your audience to look first.
In this Job Fair poster, you can see that the main title font takes up nearly half of the poster.
This is not only helpful in drawing people in, it also gives a lot of structure to the poster.
Additionally, people know exactly where to look first to get the most important information.
Now if the main message of your poster was buried in small text at the bottom of the page, it would be hard to grasp the main takeaways.
The final easy way to keep your poster simple but effective is to use a lot of negative space.
Just because you have a huge canvas for your poster doesn’t mean you have to use it.
In fact, some of the best posters barely use half of the available space. Like in this Yoga Poster below:
The designer was able to effectively get a lot of information out to its audience without the overall message coming across as too boring.
Like I said above, with poster design less is better than more in most cases.
A great example of all these tips coming together into one awesome poster can be seen below:
But the best example of using negative space is seen in a Motivation Poster:
It has a combination of negative space, a single image, and a bold title.
They all work in harmony to create a poster that feels big without being overwhelming.
And it would definitely make someone stop in their tracks to read it.
Use color to your advantage
Using color to draw people in or give them non-written context clues about your poster is a powerful weapon.
And it can be used by even the most green, pun intended, designers.
All you need to know is a little about color theory and how to use a powerful color scheme.
However, because there are probably libraries full of ideas on color theory I am not going to touch heavily on that.
Instead, I think explaining how to pick a color scheme is more helpful to new designers.
First, you should always match your color palette to your topic or theme.
If you are creating a poster for a Halloween themed school dance then you might be inclined to use orange and black.
But if you want people to notice your green event poster you should use, well, green or natural colors.
Like this poster, which masterfully uses a color that has been long associated with the event it’s promoting:
Additionally, other than the green, the palette used on this poster is very neutral.
This further fits the theme of the poster, “environmentally friendly living”, by presenting the information in a clean way.
You can also use color to draw attention to key parts or pieces of information on your poster.
Be sure to pick a bold color that will stand out against the other colors on your poster though.
A slightly darker blue section is not going to jump off the poster when the rest of your poster is blue. But a color that is the opposite of the main color on the color wheel, definitely will.
For example, in this poster, the designer used orange as the accent color:
It obviously contrasts heavily with the main color, green, but that also helps draw eyes to the interesting information.
In this case, it’s “how much a person can save”, but this tactic can be used for anything you deem important.
Think about how your poster will be used
Like I’ve mentioned throughout this article, posters can be used both online and in the real world.
But when you are creating your poster you should pick one of those use cases from the beginning.
Otherwise, your poster runs the risk of looking bad in either situation.
So if you are going to print out your poster I would recommend thinking about where you want it to hang.
If it’s going on a wall with a bunch of other posters, print your poster in a larger size so it will stand out.
For example, I would recommend not using this type of poster in that situation:
However, this one would look great printed out and stand out from the competition:
Another thing to think about when creating a digital poster is where it will be shared.
In general, a portrait orientation looks best for web and mobile.
People are used to scrolling up and down on mobile, rather than side to side.
But if you’re promoting your event on Twitter or Facebook, a banner is more suitable.
For most social media sites, outside of Pinterest, use a landscape orientation.
Keep in mind that the image will look a lot smaller on mobile, so make sure the font is big and easy to read.
These are a few things you should think about before you even start designing a poster.
It will save you from a ton of frustration later on!
Hopefully, you found these tips helpful as they are geared towards even the most novice of designers.
Just remember to:
- Only include the most important info
- Keep your design relatively simple
- Use color to your advantage
- Think about how your poster will be used
If you follow these simple tips I guarantee you will be creating awesome posters in no time.
Photo by yue su on Unsplash