Four Techniques for Designing an Ad with Too Much Content
Sounds familiar? The max word count is 150 and you were given 400, but EVERYTHING is important and absolutely none of it can go. What’s a poor designer to do?
Here are some methods for designing a successful ad without overwhelming the viewer.
Tip #1: Maintain a Strong Hierarchy
The trick here is to make all content easily scannable so that people will understand the main message without getting lost in all the words. Use strong contrast for headlines, subheads, cta’s and key words or phrases. Break things up to keep the eye moving across the page, but not too much that the ad becomes a chaotic mess.
Tip #2: Opt for Lists over Paragraphs
Using bulleted, numbered or icon lists makes content easier for people to scan. They’re easier to digest than long paragraphs of information which require more focus to read. And let’s face it, no one is paying that much attention to the body copy on an ad.
Tip #3: Use Columns
Studies show that lines of content are most-easily read when they are between 50-70 characters across. Any longer than that and reading becomes more difficult. Instead of having your content in one long row across the whole page, split it up into two or three columns to keep paragraphs narrow enough for viewers to read comfortably.
Tip #4: Create Sections
Too many disparate ideas floating around your content? Differentiate between different topics by splitting up some content into separate sections. This will also add more visual interest and help the overall design to look less like a magazine article and more like an ad.
Great design goes hand-in-hand with great copy, so your final design might not be a work of art. But design is not supposed to be art. If it communicates the message properly and elicits the action you’re aiming for, then it’s a successful design. As Paul Rand said: “Don’t try to be original, just try to be good.”*
*It should be noted that this precludes situations where the strategy is to deliberately be provocative or make a strong impression, in which case having too much content, no matter how well-structured, will never be effective towards achieving that goal.