10 Questions to ask before doing any project.


1. Is the layout simple?
What elements you can remove without losing the message?
... Systematically remove visual elements from your layout, one by one, and evaluate. Start with the more insignificant ones like borders, rules or drop caps.
... Does it still work?

2. Does the layout hold together?
Test your layout by squinting at it.
... Is the layout seen and perceived as a single, unified whole? Are there things that just don't feel right?
Hold the layout up to a mirror... now how does it look?
What's out of place?
See any holes?

3. Does the most important element dominate?
Is there a single visual element that commands the first attention.
... Hand it to a fellow worker, or a friend. Ask them what was their first visual impression.

4. Is there an obvious and logical visual flow?
Does the visual flow work with gravity? Or against it?
Does the eye flow from one element to the next the way you want it to?
Count the steps it takes to get to the message. Are there more than two?
... In "flash-card" fashion, show the layout (quickly) to an unsuspecting viewer... what's the first thing they saw. Next? Next? Is that what you intended?
... Does it reinforce your copy line?

5. Are all the graphic elements visually balanced?
Where is it heavy? Where is it light?
Is the spread top-heavy or does the weight fall too low?
What is the item next to the heavy spot?
Is that where you want your reader to look next?

6. Is the space attractive?
Is the division of space within the layout attractive? Is something too large? Too small?
Are there holes in the layout. Once again look at the piece in a mirror.
Does everything look right?

7. Is there white space?
Is it properly positioned? Is it toward the outside?
Does it visually "push" what you want it to? Once again, squint.
Are there any holes? Can they be moved to the outside?

8. Do the headlines have impact?
Have you avoided overly long headlines. Are they broken for quick reading?
Have someone read them aloud to you. Did they read them in a single breath? Did they stumble? Did they make sense... to you? To the reader?
Is the illustration or photo appropriate?
Do visuals support the personality and "ambience" of your message?
Do they offer meaning, even if the reader doesn't read the text?
Do they need captions? Do they send a message?
Is it the correct message?

9. Is there a visual storyline?
Sometimes it sounds strange to think of "visually" designing a story line. But consider this: if the reader feels comfortable with a beginning, a middle and an ending to the visual story, they're much more likely to be pulled in.
You'll also have a better chance to pull in the typical browser who doesn't like to read at all. So ask: does the visual "story" progress to the desired ending?

10. Does the whole layout feel good?
When the layout "feels" good, you know your reade
rs will be comfortable with it.