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Before and After Design: a Child’s Birthday Invitation

Invitation
Invitation
I’m starting a new feature today: Before and After. I’ll showcase a redesign of a printed piece or a Web site: I will highlight the improvements I made, and give tips for making your designs more attractive and useful.

Today we’ll look at an invitation for a child’s birthday party.

This invitation was originally designed by my friend in InDesign. Since her background is in photography rather than design, she asked for my feedback. I wanted to help her tighten up the design without losing its playful, colorful personality.

 

Before

Now, my first impulse when looking at a design that has multiple fonts, multiple colors, and center alignment is to view all three as problems.

However, this is a special design meant to appeal to a child’s heart. Having many colors and fonts gives the invitation a fun, festive feel that is desirable here.

And while center alignment is usually a big no-no when attempting to create connections between elements of a design (left and right alignment are much stronger), this is an invitation. We commonly find center alignment on invitations, particularly those of the wedding flavor.

So we’ll leave those design features alone. Let’s see where there might be some bits to improve.

Before
Before

Refer to the numbered callouts in the image above.

  1. Repetition is a good design principle. Here we see the sandals repeated top and bottom. However, they are dissimilar is size and placement.
  2. Items such as the address, date and time, contact person, and phone number are all over the place. A child’s parent will be hunting all over this design, trying to find the information so they can get their child to the party on time.
  3. This sentence fragment is important, but it’s too long and too passive to really get the point across.
  4. The word “does” is incorrect grammar when supporting multiple nouns (“week”, “zoo” and “swimming”).
  5. This one is a subtle and common mistake. When you put a dash between two times, it means “from __ to __” Adding the word “from” before it is redundant. This bit should either say “from 11am to 2pm” or simply “11am – 2pm”. There is also a big gap between the two 1s in the number 11.
  6. This paragraph has been justified (aligned both left and right). It clashes with the center alignment in the rest of the design. Justification has also caused another problem. When the line width only allows a handful of words like we see here, we end up with giant spaces between words.

 

After

First, we made the sandals the same size and moved the top sandal image up to overlap the corner border as it did on the bottom. This strengthens the repetition and makes the design more unified.

After, Step 1
After, Step 1

Next, we pulled all the time, location, and contact information together into one group. This is the design principal called proximity, which means that things which are similar are next to each other. When we look at an invitation, especially when we are driving to the event, we tend to expect all the pertinent details to be in one place.

After, Step 2
After, Step 2

Here we streamlined the safety text so that it is active, unmistakable, and stands as a statement on its own.

After, Step 3
After, Step 3

We changed “does” to “do”. Then we removed the word “from”, and tightened the kerning between the 1s in the number 11.

After, Step 4
After, Step 4

One small but important detail. My friend told me told me that lunch would be provided, and asked if that would be automatically understood by parents because the party would be at lunchtime. I suggested it would not, so she added that useful information. I sure would want to know that!

After, Step 5
After, Step 5

Finally, we center-aligned the middle paragraph. This alignment gave us more natural spacing between words. It also gave the design a bit more white space.

After, Step 6
After, Step 6

And here is the final design:

After
After

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