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4 rules to make your promotional graphics a lot better

Do you create promotional graphics for your library’s website or social media?

Yes, design can be subjective, but there are definitely guidelines that should be considered. After all, you’re not doing this for the sake of creating art: you’re trying to sell a potential user or attendee on an idea.   I’m sharing my four rules for better graphics here:

  • Clean is better than cluttered. When there are too many elements/pieces/parts/fonts/colors, it doesn’t look professional. Why create something that forces your organization to take a hit to its credibility? Additionally, the eye doesn’t know where to start or where to go.  Don’t try to fit too much in. Get picky.
  • Less text is better than more text. If someone is interested, they’ll click to get more information. Hook them before you tell them. Less text goes along with clean, but it’s also incredibly important for accessibility. I saw one library that had listed all the hours for its branches on an animated carousel graphic. All of that was inaccessible to anyone using a screen reader.
  • Contrast is critical. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen black text on a royal blue background…well, I’d have a lot of dollars.  The contrast of images or text against their background helps those elements you so carefully chose to stand out. It’s also an accessibility concern: if the text and the background don’t have sufficient contrast, people with low vision can have significant issues seeing the content.
  • Feeling is better than information. These are not intended to be posters, where all the information has to be available. They’re meant to catch a user’s eye, so they’ll go find out more and attend/signup, etc. If you can evoke a particular feeling, you’re more likely to get someone to take an action. Think of literally every professional print advertisement you’ve ever seen. Feeling is more important than the details.

Here’s an example of a makeover I did a while ago:


Major problems:

  • Too busy—too many types of elements
  • Login information shouldn’t be part of the promotional graphic
  • Zoom info not needed
  • Text contrast is insufficient


This image conveys the feeling of the program, and I used the library’s original colors in the text and background dots. Much cleaner!