There are over 25 million businesses on Instagram. With over 500 million active daily visitors using the app, it is crucial for businesses to be distinct and memorable. Free design services and apps like Canva and Adobe Spark make it easy for people to easily create beautiful posts without having any graphic design knowledge. In this article, we’ll go over some basic social media design tips for beginners.

Both of the free apps let users start with pre-made templates. While the templates are pretty, they are also more likely to be used by other businesses on social media. Luckily, you’ll find that by applying a few tweaks to your current style, creating great-looking content isn’t too scary. Read on to learn how to effectively communicate your message on social media using these free design tools.

Visual hierarchy

Users scroll down their social media feeds very quickly. You only have a few seconds to capture their attention, hopefully, with an eye-catching and interesting piece of content. Visual hierarchy is a way of organizing information from most to least important. For example, if a business has a big sale coming up, their post might be an image with “SALE” in big red letters, with the other text in the image being smaller.

Before you even start designing your social media graphic, ask yourself “What is the purpose of this post?”

Text and image alignment

Canva and Adobe Spark have a feature that assists with the vertical and horizontal alignment of your content. But why exactly is alignment important? Alignment is a sometimes overlooked aspect of design, however, it can make or break a viewer’s impression of your brand. Easily up your design game by making sure that your text is aligned in some way to the different elements in your image. Take a look at the before and after images below. Which one looks more professional?

Bad example of alignment Good example of alignment

In the first image, the text is aligned to each other, but is neither vertically or horizontally aligned. The second image is vertically and horizontally aligned and in the center of the image.

Photos

Consider research done on Instagram posting when choosing photo(s) for your social media posts.

According to a study by Curalate:

  • Brighter images get 24% more likes than dark images
  • Images that lean more towards blue get 24% more likes than red images
  • Images with a single dominant color generate 19% more likes
  • Images with low saturation get 18% more likes

Think about readability

When choosing a background photo, it is important to choose an image that doesn’t make your text hard to read. In general, background images should meet the following criteria:

  • Not have a lot of tiny details or patterns
  • Have low contrast
  • Be relevant to the message of the post

Take a look at the examples below to see what we mean.

Background Bad Example Background Good Example

Fonts

The way in which fonts are used in your post are very important. A simple font choice can have a lasting impact on how your brand is perceived.

How many fonts should I use?

There are hundreds of cool-looking fonts to choose from that it is tempting to try and use them all in one image. The common design rule is to use no more than two different fonts in one design. Jamie Wright of Engage Interactive suggests, “One for your headings and one for body copy.” Keep in mind that you can also use italics and play with the font weight of the two fonts to change things up.

Serif vs. sans serif fonts

Serif fonts are fonts with “feet” on the open sides of letters. They convey a more classic, old style feel to them. Serif fonts are easy to read if you have a lot of text; books are often printed in a serif font.

Sans serif fonts, on the other hand, don’t have feet on their open letters. These fonts have a modern, clean feel to them. These are good for headers, although it isn’t a set rule. They are easy to read if you have a short piece of text like a title.

Serif Font Sans Serif Font

Colors

Statistics show that using certain colors or sticking with a single color in a photo can increase post engagement. While it is important to keep up with statistics, it is more important to develop your own style for your brand. In addition to this, it’s important to stay consistent with that style.

Focusing on individual posts, it is also important to think about a color palette. Sticking to a few different colors in your image gives cohesion to your brand and looks professional.

Canva Color Palette Generator

If you didn’t already think Canva was awesome, they have a free tool that pulls the colors from any photo you upload to it’s color palette generator. Once you select the image you want to use in  your post, upload it to the generator and it gives you the five dominant colors from your photo. You can then use these colors for the text in your image.

Canva color palette generator-2

Conclusion

Starting from scratch when you have templates at your disposal might sound counter productive but will be twice as rewarding when you have created an awesome post. The social media design tips here are a basic foundation to further build your skills upon. Do you have any tips for beginners that we missed in this article? Let us know in the comments.