It doesn’t matter what type of print, digital or web communications you are creating for your small business, less really is more when you want your message to stand out. More important than making things look visually appealing, a graphic designer’s main job is to convey their client’s message in any communications. In our world of information overload, you have only a few seconds to catch someone’s attention. If a potential customer has to work too hard to determine what you are trying to tell them, they will move on. Trying to cram too much into your home page, or including way more than anyone would ever care about in your brochure is not doing you any favors.

The first word you need to keep in mind is hierarchy. The content of your communications should have a distinct visual hierarchy. You can achieve this in several ways. Content at the top of a page is always read first, and the bottom of the page is generally used for less important information. You can also use font size to increase or decrease the importance of information. Headlines should be larger, and possibly even in a different font, to make them stand out. If all the copy is the same size and weight, it’s difficult to discern the message. You can also use color to create categories for content to help differentiate them.

The second word is editing. If you are writing your own content for your communications, being able to edit aggressively is key. You want to clearly convey your message in as few words as possible. Too much content on the page is overwhelming, and your audience won’t read any of it. If editing isn’t your strong point, ask a colleague or trusted friend to read it for you and offer suggestions.

The final word is simplicity. Overly busy pages are difficult to read, and it’s hard to determine the message. Keep the number of messages you are trying to convey per page to one main message, and no more than two or three secondary messages. Any more than that, and they start to get lost. You should limit your design to no more than two fonts. Too many colors can be distracting as well. Unless you are using color to differentiate categories of information, two to three colors is sufficient.

Keeping these three words in mind, hierarchy, editing and simplicity will go a long way in helping your small business make your message stand out.