Whether you’re a seasoned designer or just starting out, understanding and utilizing good design principles is essential to creating successful visuals. To create an effective display ad, designers need to consider composition, color, typography, and more – all while trying to capture attention in a fraction of a second.

There’s a lot that goes into creating a compelling brand and display ads, but don’t worry – we’ve got you covered. Here are four underrated design principles to master for better display ads


The Science of Composition

The composition of an ad is how the various elements are arranged within the space. This includes the overall layout, as well as the placement of individual elements like images, text, and calls to action.

There are some rules to remember when considering composition:

  • The Rule of Thirds: One of the most basic and well-known composition rules, the Rule of Thirds states that an image or composition should be divided into thirds, both vertically and horizontally. This creates 4 different points of interest, which you can use to place elements like the headline, product image, and call to action.
  • Negative Space: It’s the white space or empty space between or around the elements of a composition. It can be used to create balance, visual interest, and a sense of order.
  • Proximity: Proximity refers to the placement of elements in relation to each other. Grouping related elements together creates a sense of cohesiveness, while placing them further apart can create a sense of separation or hierarchy.

Pro Tip: Use Whitespace Effectively

It is often underutilized or even ignored altogether, but it can be a powerful tool when used effectively as a design principle.

Think about how you can use the negative space in your ad to your advantage. For example, you could use it to create a border around your ad or to highlight a certain element.

Whitespace can help to create balance and hierarchy in your design, making it more visually appealing and easier to understand. It can also help to draw attention to specific elements, such as calls to action.


The Power of Colors

Color psychology is among the most powerful elements of any design, and using different colors that create effects that impact the viewers differently. Here are some principles of using colors in your design:

  • Hue: It’s the name of a color on the color wheel. You can use it to create different moods and feelings.
  • Complementary Colors: These colors are usually opposite to one another on the color wheel, yet they go hand in hand. They can be used to create contrast and visual interest.
  • Value: The darkness or lightness of a color is what we call value. Light colors appear to recede, while dark colors appear to come forward.
  • Saturation: It refers to the color’s intensity. High saturation colors are very vibrant, while low saturation colors are more muted.

Pro Tip: Use Contrasting Colors

They tend to stand out more than other colors and can be used to create visual interest.

You can use contrast to make your ad more eye-catching and to make certain elements stand out. For example, you could use a light background with a dark headline.

Think about what colors will work well together and will be easy to read. You don’t want to use colors that are too similar to each other or that will blend in with the background.

When using contrasting colors, it is important to use them in moderation. Too much contrast can be overwhelming and difficult to look at. A good rule of thumb is using a maximum of two contrasting colors in any given design.


The Magic of Typography

Typography can be best described as the technique and art of arranging and choosing typefaces to create an effect that provokes emotions. It’s an important aspect of any design, and it can be used to convey a certain feeling or message.

In the early days of Apple, before the introduction of the Macintosh, Steve Jobs was known for his work with typefaces. He was fascinated by typesetting machines and the potential for using technology to create beautiful typography. He used to spend hours in the calligraphy department at college, experimenting with different fonts and typefaces. Today, Apple products are known for their typographic excellence.

Here are some basics to remember when applying typography:

  • Fonts: A font is a specific typeface, or family of typefaces. There are infinite fonts to choose from, and each has its own personality.
  • Hierarchy: Hierarchy is the arrangement of elements in a way that reflects their importance. This is often done through size, color, and placement.
  • Legibility: Legibility is the ability to read a typeface. Some typefaces are easier to read, while others are more visually appealing, so it’s important to consider legibility when choosing a font.

Pro-Tip: Use Typography Effectively

When used effectively, it can greatly improve the look and feel of your display ad. There are a few things to keep in mind when using typography in your design. First, use a maximum of two different fonts. Second, use fonts that are easy to read. And finally, use font sizes that are appropriately sized for the space you have.


The Art of Imagery

Images are a vital part of any design, and they can be used to create a variety of effects.

Some things to remember when considering imagery:

  • Size: The size of an image can be used to create a sense of scale or importance.
  • Placement: The placement of an image creates balance or hierarchy.
  • Subject Matter: The subject matter of an image conveys a certain message or feeling.
  • Color: The color of an image can be applied to create a certain mood or feeling.

Pro-Tip: Incorporate Visuals

Visuals are an important part of any design, but they are especially important in display ads. People are more likely to remember a visual than they are to remember text.

When incorporating visuals into your display ad, be sure to use high-quality images. And avoid using too many visuals, as this can make your ad seem busy and cluttered.


Some More Ways to Improve Display Ads Experience for Users

In this section, we’ll cover some additional design principle tips for display ads. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of how to create an ad that’s both effective and eye-catching.

Use a Call to Action

A call to action (CTA) is a statement or phrase that encourages people to take a specific action. It can be used to increase the likelihood of someone clicking on your ad.

When using a CTA, be sure to make it clear and concise. And use actionable language that encourages people to click, such as “learn more” or “sign up now.”

Use Repetition

While redundancy and repetition is mostly frowned upon, it can effectively enhance the impact of your display ads when done right. It’s reported that using the same element multiple times in your ad can reinforce an action or leaving a lasting memory. This could be something like using the same color or font throughout the ad, or placing your CTA or contact info at multiple places.

Repetition can help to create a cohesive look and feel for your ad. It can also help certain elements stand out more.

Use Proximity

Proximity is the distance between elements in your ad. It’s important to use proximity effectively because it can help to create a sense of unity and coherence in your ad.

Think about how you can use proximity to your advantage. For example, you could place elements that are related close to each other.

Keep It Simple

Simplicity is the answer when it comes to design. You don’t want your ad to be too busy or complicated.

Think about how you can simplify your ad. For example, you could use fewer colors or a simpler layout.

Your ad should have a clear headline that tells people what you’re offering. And, your ad should only include the most essential information. Too much text will cause clutter and will likely turn people away.

Use Eye-Catching Images

Images are another important element of effective display ads. People are more likely to notice and remember an ad that includes an eye-catching image.

Consider what kind of image will work well with your ad. The image should be relevant to the product or service you’re promoting. And, it should be high-quality and professional.

Make It Easy to Read

Using a font that’s easy to read and including enough white space in your ad can do wonders

You don’t want to use a font that’s too small or that’s hard to read. And, you want to make sure your ad isn’t too crowded. Too much information in too small of a space will likely turn people away.

Test Your Ad

Once you’ve designed your ad, it’s important to test it out. Show it to a few people and see what they think.

You can also run a test ad on a small scale to see how it performs. This will help you fine-tune your ad and make sure it’s as effective as possible.



Display ads are a great way to capture attention and promote a product or service. By understanding and utilizing good design principles, you can create ads that are both effective and visually appealing.

When you’re designing a display ad, there are certain principles you should abide by to create an effective, successful ad.

Looking for Help With Your Design Materials and Brand Identity?

At Market Tactics, we keep these design principles in mind on every project. It’s one of the ways we create eye-catching ads that help our clients achieve their advertising goals.

If you’re looking for a digital marketing agency to help create display ads that demand attention, or design a brand with serious impact, you’ve come to the right place. Market Tactics has a proven track record of helping our clients achieve their marketing goals. We have a team of experienced professionals ready to help you take your online performance to the next level. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you get to the top.