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How to Design Standout Posters

Updated: Apr 25, 2021

Good poster design is essential if you want to capture a moving audience’s attention with a message. Having an awesome, eye-catching poster can be without a doubt, one of the most effective advertising tools you can use. You see them on every street corner, every shop window, and every notice board in every country. From restaurants to music festivals, new movie releases to sporting events, the power of poster advertising knows no boundaries.

Posters are effective in advertising because they can deliver important messages in a fun, creative way. Designers are free to indulge their creativity to effectively relay a brand’s message. And while posters may differ in context and even the industry in which they are representing, there is a common set of rules that the most successful posters follow and that is what we are going to look at now.

Only include essential information in your poster

When it comes to the design, less is more. Including too much information can distract people from the main message you are trying to highlight. When a poster is overloaded, people can get confused, and they are likely to pay less attention to it. Always try to have some breathable space between your elements and don’t be ramming all the information you can in just for the sake of it.

With the online class timetable poster below I couldn't really find a good location to put the logo without it appearing to take away from the look of the poster so I made it larger than the poster itself while also applying an overlay and taking the opacity down in Photoshop. It now looks to be a part of the background.

Pick an engaging headline

After you’ve decided what type of information you want to include in your poster, it’s time to pick the headline. This will be the focal point of your poster and the first thing your audience will read, make it catch their attention by using a bold typeface and keep it short and to the point.

Most designers will recommend using a decorative font for the header and combining it with a simpler Sans-Serif font for the body. The good thing about Sans-Serif fonts is that they are clean and straightforward but as a general rule two fonts should be enough for your poster, the bold headline and something to complement it.

Choose the right image for your poster

Imagery can be a great way to stand out and make an impact. Whether used as a background image or as a subtle addition in the foreground; images attract attention.

If you're including an image onto your poster, make sure it is high quality and ensure that the image is relevant to the poster theme, also keep in mind that if you use an image that has already been used a lot, the design will instantly become a lot less appealing, and it will not stand out.

You can also use a traditional solid colour or a gradient background; in this case, the font you use for your text will be the main focus of the poster so getting it spot on will be more important.

Use contrasting colours to help your text stand out from the background

Making sure your text pops out is essential so you should make sure the colours contrast well against the text. If you’ve selected an image with multiple colours, a good design trick is to apply a colour filter to the image. This will help your text stand out.

Use lines to direct people’s attention.

Lines can help you direct your audience’s attention toward focal points inside your poster. You can use arrows, dotted lines, or the lines inside the image to direct people’s attention. An excellent example of this would be using the lines on a road to drive people’s attention to the centre of your poster.

Always include a call-to-action

Let people know what action you want them to take after they see your poster. Tell readers what you want them to do. Create a clear call to action by highlighting words like “call now” or “call us today!” if you want people to call. If you want people to visit your website, you could add s