Designing Posters for Print

When you order poster printing from Hotcards, you'll be asked to upload your design to the site. But how should you go about designing your poster? The best way to begin is by considering your audience.

Hitting Your Target Demographic

What demographic are you trying to appeal to with this poster campaign? Are you trying to get people to buy something? To attend an event? Or are you trying to raise awareness about a political, medical, or other social issue? The copy, images, fonts, and colors choices for the poster design should all be informed by an awareness of WHO the poster is speaking to.

Designing for your demographic is so important because poster advertising has to attract viewers from a distance. For this reason, approximately 30% of your poster space should be occupied by THE GRAB. That is, something that will make passers-by stop and look at your poster. You have an average of 2-3 seconds to attract the viewer's attention, so make the most of it.

Designing The Grab

Any copy included in The Grab should be short, sweet, and presented in a large, sans serif font. The font should be large enough that it can be read from 10 feet away, which is the average range of influence of a standard-sized poster (11 x 17). Follow these guidelines to ensure that your message is easy to read and can be instantly absorbed by the viewer.

Once you've got someone's attention, you've got 25 – 30 seconds max. to make your point (i.e. come out and vote on Day X; take action by calling X or visiting X website; support this candidate because of X, X, and X).

Keep Copy Short, Sweet, and Easy to Read

You probably have a lot of information to share, but it will go unread if you include too much – 50 words represent a lot of content for a regular piece of poster printing. As with The Grab, keep your expanded message simple and direct. Use an easy-to-read font that is legible from a distance of 8 – 10 feet. You don't want to depend on the viewer's willingness to get in close and squint to have your message read.

When organizing information, a safe strategy is to create a hierarchy with the most important content at the top of the poster, descending from there in order of relevance. The eye wants to read from top to bottom, left to right, so cater to that impulse. As with font selection, it's okay to be creative with content design, but not so creative that it becomes difficult to read.

Bold, Full Color Design

Choose colors for your poster design that will create bold contrasts between the background and the informative images and copy in the foreground. Color is a useful tool for dividing up content and attracting the eye to the most relevant information on the poster.

The average poster design is fairly flexible when it comes to the inclusion of graphics. After all, there are few print designs more open to creativity than posters. Just focus on creating an appealing art piece – the kind of thing someone might take home and put up on their own wall.

Pay Attention to Borders

Finally, remember to keep your best graphics closer to the center of the poster, as opposed to the outer edge. A white border of ¼ inch or more is advisable, as edges can get chopped during the poster printing and cutting process.

A border is also helpful when it comes to putting posters up. Whether posterers are using glue, staples, tape, or tacks, a border preserves the print design within from getting marked up or obscured.

Poster design is fun, but it also has to be a functional printed product. Design with a balance of creativity and practicality in mind to guarantee the success of your poster campaign.

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