I still remember sitting in class on the first day that we learned how to lay out a print ad. Most of us had no clue what we were doing, and were happy enough just to navigate a Mac properly. So when we learned how to do our first layout, we were overcome with a sense of accomplishment. We were so overcome that we did the same layout over and over again. Logo in the right corner, visual dead center, and headline floating in the top quarter of the page. It seemed like the ideal ad formula, until we discovered how many other ways there are to layout an ad.
For both print and the web, the layout is of great importance. It is essentially the packaging for the company’s identity, and it’s what lets the target audience know what they’re all about. So, let’s go over some of the key elements that make a good layout for print and the web.
Even though certain elements will always be pleasing to the eye, there are some different rules that apply for the web. This is because the audience is looking at the layout on their computer screen instead of on a page in front of them. For this reason the font you choose is very important. It must be a simple and easy to read font. Some commonly used fonts on the web include Verdana, Arial and Helvetica. A standard font size should be used, and you should make sure there is appropriate spacing in between lines so the copy doesn’t look jumbled together. It is also important to make sure a good colour combination is used that won’t blind and/or irritate your audience. For example: bright blue copy over a bright red background – blinding and irritating. Web page dimensions are often overlooked, but it looks a lot more professional to limit the amount of content per page than to just have your audience scroll down eternally. Limiting each page to no more than 4 scroll lengths is a good rule to go by. Mini USA is a great example of a site that is professional looking and pleasing to the eye.
For print ads, you need to capture the attention of the audience. On a website your audience is there because they want to be. But when a reader is flipping through a magazine your ad needs to jump out at them. Make sure that the elements of your ad (visual, headline, logo, body copy) are not fighting with each other for attention. One element should clearly be the strongest (most likely the visual or headline) and the rest should follow suit.
Even though some really cool and funky things have been done with logo placement, the bottom right corner remains to be a great place. That’s because this is generally the last place your reader’s eye goes to when they’re done reading your ad. The copy must be readable – aim for no more than 50 characters per line, so your readers don’t feel like reading body copy is a chore. Some colour combinations will always be more pleasing to the eye. For example it’s much easier for someone to read a block of copy that is black on white rather than if it was reversed as white text on a black background.
Overall, for both print and web layouts the main message is to keep it simple. Your reader should never strain to read your copy and they should never be confused about where to look. Instead every ad and website should cater to the reader, their attention span and finding the right way to catch their eye.
Hi, I'm Ian T. I'm a York grad and a copywriter for Eden Advertising. I'm the master of procrastinating. I like to use parentheses (sometimes). I love the LCBO because wine makes me happy. I don't blog, I capture moments in time.