9 Essential Design Tips For Your Videos

Competition for the viewership of your videos has never been higher, so how do you keep viewers tuned in to your channel? Your videos can be full of great, useful content, but if they look like a mess, why would anyone stick around to get to the great content? Our tip: you have to entice the audience’s eyes before you can blow their minds.We will go further in depth with these points individually in later posts, but for now we can start with some of the video design basics that will help your channel get the traffic it needs.

1) Keep it Clutter-Free
We’ve seen many videos that bombard you with so much visual information at once that it’s impossible to focus on one thing at a time. The focus should be on one visual element of the video at a time – which, in most cases, is the speaker or ‘star’. When the speaker is speaking, the focus should be on them, not the visual elements surrounding them. The viewer needs to know where to focus their attention on. Basically, don’t let elements compete with one another.

2) Use the Rule of Thirds
The Rule of Thirds basically states that every image or composition should be divided into a grid of nine equal parts, with the most important compositional elements being where the grid lines cross. (See example below.) This rule exists because placing key elements along those intersections allows us to interact with the composition in a more natural manner, as our eyes have a tendency to dart to those spots automatically. In nature and landscape shots, the horizon lines should be placed along the horizontal grid lines.












3) Keep it Visually Interesting
Please do not think this is a contradiction to basic number one. Adding more elements to ‘grab’ the viewer will not work unless the elements have a reason to be there and do not compete with the rest of the visuals. If your video is just you, for example, standing there and talking to a nameless crowd – try changing the angle or zoom of the camera every so often. Try cutting to full screen images of what you’re talking about every once in a while. Add some background texture for a bit of realism. For example, the PBS Idea Channel takes advantage of subtly alternating its camera angles and zooms and cutting to full screen images occasionally to get their point across without losing focus or interest.

4) Keep a Consistent Look & Colour Palate
If you introduce yourself to the wide and wonderful world of YouTube using graphic elements with dragons and flaming lower thirds (a graphic placed in the lower area of the screen) – then switch to polka dots and purple stars a few videos later – people might get the idea that you don’t know what you’re doing. Try to nail down a graphic style you want to go with and keep it until you’re absolutely sure you need to change things up.

5) Try For Quality Images & Video
Don’t steal images from other people’s sites either. There are plenty of good stock photography sites out there if that’s what you need. And some of them are even free. For any images that you’re only going to find via a Google search – make sure to filter them out to ‘Large’ images only. Having pixelated and blurry imagery in your video is a sure-fire way to be marked as an amateur. Check out this article for some design & photo resources. While we are fully aware that many of you do not have access to HD filming equipment – be warned that those of you who do could be seeing a higher view count than those of you who don’t. Not only does YouTube rank HD videos higher in their search engine, but – let’s be honest; we’d all rather watch a high quality HD video than one filmed with a cheap webcam. Higher quality assumes that the actual content of the video will be better – so viewers are going to stick around a little longer.

6) Use Legible Fonts at Reasonable Sizes
We’re going to put it out there right now. DO NOT use Comic Sans or Papyrus for text copy in your video. Please. Just don’t. Now that that’s out of the way – DO try and use fonts that are clean and legible like Gill Sans or Franklin Gothic, or the tried and tested Helvetica. To summarize: No fancy, decorative fonts unless you specifically need it to get an idea across. Anything that people need to be able to read should be kept simple – and large enough to read without viewing the video full screen.

7) Use a Bumper
No, this has nothing to do with your car. A bumper is the initial logo or title that pops up at or near the beginning of your video to set the stage for the viewer. It’s the same as putting a logo on your company newsletter. It keeps your videos branded, letting repeat viewers know that the quality and content of your videos will remain, while setting the standard for what new viewers should expect.

8) Do Not Stretch Visuals
If you’re using external video content in your video and aren’t able to make it fit where you want it to – please, do not stretch it to fit. That goes the same for images. If the landscape photo you want to use as a backdrop to your video is only available in portrait orientation – do not stretch it to fit landscape. Just scale it bigger to fit (if the resolution allows) or find a new image.

9) Avoid Using Black
True fact: 100% black is nowhere to be seen in nature – ever. The colours we interpret as black in everyday life are, in fact, just much darker and greyer shades of colours. When black is added to a design it has a tendency to overpower everything else, so avoid it where possible and stick to dark greys, ideally mixed with a bit of colour to add some depth.