Designer Lingo 101: The Basics

One of the greatest struggles that business owners face is how to communicate with their designers. There's so much technical jargon and designer lingo that you might not be familiar with. Or, there may be changes or designs you want to ask your designer for but can't quite find the right words to use. 

While there are a number of ways to ask for what you need in a design (a great inspiration board and plenty of examples are often helpful), knowing the lingo is one of the best ways to keep chats productive and enjoyable.

Welcome to Designer Lingo 101! Every week for the next six weeks, I'll be posting a new glossary of designer terms, broken into categories like "type," "print," and more. Today, let's just review the basics!

Unlike traditional glossaries that list terms alphabetically, I'm going to order this list by "most need-to-know."

visual weight

The boldness or level of attraction an element in a design creates. An element can be anything from a shape, icon, or letter, to an image, paragraph block, or headline. In general, darker and larger elements have greater visual weight.

Visual Weight.png


The distribution of visual weight from an axis or central point. We usually think of balance from left to right, and we can achieve visual balance in a number of ways: We can display two similarly weighted things side by side. Or, we can display one a small number or visually heavy things on one side and a large number of visually light things on another side.


Lining up all elements to a single axis, horizontally or vertically. Vertically we can align things to their center axis, top axis, or bottom axis. Horizontally, we can align things to the left, right, or middle.



Spreading out elements in a design so that there is equal spacing between each element.


A framework that provides structure, balance, and organization to a design. Can be composed of as many components or spaces as needed.



The size of a design element. Large scale elements tend to have a greater visual weight and tend to define elements of importance or high standing in the information hierarchy. Scale of design elements can also be used to impart a style or tone on a design. Small scale elements can be considered soft or luxurious, while large-scale elements may be bold or modern.



The organization and ranking of information or elements in a design in order to most effectively and simply communicate necessary information to an audience. The most important information should have the greatest visual weight and the least important information should have the least visual weight. 

whitespace/negative space

The space in a design that does not contain any elements, or is empty. Whitespace can be effective in creating a hierarchy of information, in organizing information, and in creating a cadence for reading a design -- whitespace indicates pause or breaks. 

Coming up next week: Designer Lingo 101 - Type

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Meeting Clients Where They Are (Plus, How to Create a Quiz with Interact!)

One of the greatest misconceptions about design is that design is art.

Where the purpose of art is to express an emotion or thought, or capture or a feeling or event, Design is more strategic.

Design is meeting people where they are.

It means making their experience as frictionless as possible. It means presenting information to it's understood immediately, subtle and gently guiding a user through an experience to a desired end result, and making things as simple as possible. 

That's why, when I noticed so many business owners who were inquiring with me knew they needed help, but were unsure of what exactly was the right solution.

(Isn't that the case with so many things in life and business? You can feel something is off or that something is missing, but you're not sure exactly how to proceed in finding a solution?)

That's why I was thrilled to create a quiz with Interact! Because not all of the pressure should be on you to have all the answers right away. That's why you reach out to experts, after all! 

My new quiz helps you discover what kind of design help your business needs so that you plan your goals more strategically. 

Take the quiz below if you're curious!

About Interact Quizzes

If you want to serve your clients and customers better, consider creating a quiz for them. Yes, they're the "big marketing trend" right now, but let me tell you why: because they meet people where they are. They help clients and customers learn more about themselves and how you might help them (or just make their lives a little more fun. Raise your hand if you miss Cosmo quizzes!)

Interact's interface let's me customize my quiz logic easily, brand the fonts and colors to my business, and gives me a ton of embed and publish options so that I can make the quiz experience frictionless.

Click here to try Interact!


P.S. This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting the brands that help support me!

Nicole YangComment
The Dos and Don'ts of Typography

Remember when Comic Sans was the only problem we had with type?

Those days are long gone! Now, we have access to hundreds of fonts (and access to software to create our own) and we want to use them all! It's opening up the floodgates for mistakes, poor formatting, and inconsistency in your brand.

But! There's an easy fix. 

Watch my latest video on the 5 Dos and Don't of Typography to find out:

  • How to get the most out of a single typeface

  • When you should absolutely not letter-space your type
  • How many fonts is too many for your brand
Nicole YangComment
To Manufacture Printed Product Overseas or Not?

I'm currently working with a number of clients who are developing products to print and sell. This research and development phase is the most fun sometimes. We get to dream up ideas from the ground up and it feels like the sky's the limit when we project into the future.

But inevitably there are things we can't do when we print small batches or print domestically. Manufacturing overseas comes up early and often during this phase. It's incredibly cost-effective and allows so much room for growth. However, it's not something that we dive into without serious evaluation first!

If you're a product-based business thinking of printing overseas, there are a lot of factors to weigh before you make the switch. 

In addition to staying on top of the political climate and being aware of policy change, you’ll also want to consider an additional seven things. Watch below!

Nicole YangComment
Top 5 Dos and Don'ts of DIY Graphic Design in your Small Business

When you're diving into designing graphics for your small business, whether it's a discount code postcard or an Instagram graphic, it's easy to go overboard with options. Design is FUN, after all. Who wouldn't want to beef things up with color, patterns, and images? The possibilities are endless.

But, design needs to be functional first, and strategic for your business.

These are the top five things I want to tell any client who asks me for a design audit. 

Nicole YangComment