I stumbled onto a fascinating list of design tips based on eye-tracking studies.
The studies referred to here focus on Web sites. But there are lessons to be learned for advertising design. Here are few takeaways:
- Text is more important than images. People are looking for information.
- You have to design with people’s expectations in mind. Money-making ads aren’t the place to experiment.
- People tend to ignore ads that are obviously ads. The radar goes up. Flying “under the radar”gives an ad a chance to be noticed.
- Simple formats work better than complex formats. Complexity get in the way of clear communication.
- Clear, relevant photos work better than artsy fartsy photos. Real people relate to real people better than pretty faces and visual “concepts.”
- Headlines draw the eye. They are the engine of your copy train. Yeah, I know … duh. But many copywriters and designers don’t get this simple idea.
- Lists hold people’s attention. People love lists. Like this one. They provide lots of information fast.
- Short paragraphs perform better than big blocks of text. Most people aren’t strong readers. They want reading to be easy, not hard.
I think every designer should be a student of reading and legibility theory. In case you’re interested, here’s some additional info on reading, legibility, and ad design.