November 26, 2015

What Makes a Good Poster Design?

A great poster can make a real difference to your company or event’s credibility. Bad or just low-quality design, while often cheaper – reflects poorly on your business – which reflects in your ROI.

The primary purpose of a poster is communication.

So above all, make sure it sends out the right message, and in the right tone.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the main components for a well-designed poster that visually communicates and is impactful.


It’s important to have a good visual balance – so that the image is not overcrowded (resulting in none of the information being taken in)

As with traditional art, you need a strong sense of composition – and visual hierarchy – you want the viewer to look at the heading, look at any images, and read the smaller text.

So you need to guide them through this process – and make sure the text and images lead towards each other and aren’t fighting.

But importantly – you want just 1 focal point. Pick 1 central point – image or text that you want to be the focal point – you can’t have all corners of the poster fighting for attention!

Otherwise, it’ll be a mess and no one will look in the right order, or remember the info.

If you need to – then use a grid in the design process – this will help you to keep everything aligned.

This example has great composition – everything is focused towards the mic and below – so it’s easy to follow and read all the info.

What Makes Good Poster Design - Telegramme

Image from Telegramme

Typography and Text

Limit text – think about how much someone can remember – so limit the details
provide a link for people who want to find out more.

If you’re not great with words – get someone who is to help make it more concise – there’s nothing worse than rambly text on a poster, with numerous messages.

You can mix type fonts – which if done well can make it very interesting to look at (don’t go overboard!). But they need to have the same tone and go well together.

Keep fonts legible and fairly bold – ( this’ll help the poster to be read from a distance – 5 feet +)

and Please don’t use Curlz MT for the main body text.

Here’s a nice example – where they’ve created the whole design from the typography. Because it’s a lot of text, it’s very simple in its approach, which has worked really well.

What Makes a Good Poster Design - Tank Jazz Poster

Image from Tank Design

White space

White space is just negative space – ie not filled up with text or imagery.

White space is a key component of great design. Just because you have a whole piece of paper it doesn’t mean it needs to be all filled up.

Not only does it make it more aesthetically pleasing, but it can aid readability and comprehension.

It’s not just adding space around the text or imagery, but even small areas of white space, ie between sentences can make a big difference to legibility.

Non-designers have the urge sometimes to make use of all ALL the space on a poster, but it will only detract from the message!

This example is very simple – but space and emptiness really bring attention to the main focus of the posters.

What makes a good poster design? Studio Hands Flow

Image from Studio Hands


Photos do work well on posters – and can have a great impact.

But they need to go perfectly in sync with the message at hand. Generic stock style photos generally will not do for something this large scale.

So it’s best to have a photoshoot / get photos for this specific purpose (and mobile phone pics will not do sorry!).

Designing a poster is a great excuse to be really creative with imagery – as you can be more unconventional than with a brochure, for example.

This example uses just one image – but it fits perfectly and brings a real dynamism to the design.

What Makes a Good Poster Design? Diana Dubina

Image from Diana Dubin


Use strong colours if it’s going to be printed – especially by a poor printer – everything washes away.

Although I would recommend getting anything printed properly of course and on good quality paper.

Imagine that your poster is on a wall surrounded by others of posters – you want it to stand out, and the colour is a great way to do this,

This doesn’t mean you should use every colour – usually, you would stick to a theme of 4 colours at the most to start with.

They can be complementary – ie all shades of blue, or contrasting – so an orange and blue together. It’s best to come up with a palette for limited colours before you start so everything co-ordinates.

Here are 2 websites withs lots of set palettes to give you ideas on colour schemes that go well together – http://www.colourlovers.com and https://color.adobe.com

Even though this example seems to be random and multicoloured, they’ve still limited the palette. So it’s colourful, and a mixed, but they’ve kept to just 3 colours – which works fantastically.

What Makes a Good Poster Design - Sprectrum

Image from Spectrum



Remember that while your design may look good, it might not be the best possible communication for your audience – it needs to relate.

The design and tone of the poster will look very different if you’re communicating to business people or communicating with teen gig-goers, or to children.

Keep the tone of the poster (which includes text language, font, colour and image style ) relevant for the audience. If you keep the audience in mind from the beginning, and think, ‘does this appeal to them?’ that’s a great start.

This is a poster aimed children, and the tone is perfect, it’s playful, clear and the info text is short enough and simple enough for a child to comprehend quickly.

Image from Ninette Saraswati


Hopefully, you now have a good understanding of the basic principles for good poster design, and the basics of visual communication.

So, next time you’re designing a poster, keep these factors in mind.

Composition and visual hierarchy 
Typography & Text

If you want any help with design, just send us a message.  

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