Design Tips« Back to Ideas Collection
More Design Tips
- • How “Category Creators” Inspire and Empower Customers
- • Draw People into Your Story with the Rule of Three
- • Three Steps to Great Design
- • Overcoming Obstacles in Design
- • Try Word Lists for Advertising “Gold”
- • Building the Perfect Letterhead
- • Attract Magazine Readers with Short-Form Columns
- • Essential Dos and Don’ts for Adding Beauty to Your Page
- • Grab Them Right Out of the Gate
Draw People into Your Story with the Rule of Three
Good design, like storytelling, brings ideas to life.
When designing a piece to persuade, your first goal is to draw people’s attention. Whether crafting memorable brochures or data-rich infographics, designers invite viewers to enter a scene and explore what is there.
Easy as 1-2-3
Three is a magic number, and it resonates with the human spirit.
Important tasks have three basic steps (Stop, Drop, and Roll). Punchy slogans come in groups of three (Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness). And every epic story has a beginning, middle, and end!
Sets of three push people to act, and – as a bonus – they provide a powerful memory aid. When you want to maximize visual impact, here are several ways to use the rule of three in your designs:
It takes courage to move forward, so give people a visual path to follow. Try a 3-step infographic, a 3-part “make the switch kit,” or 1-2-3 arrows (with corresponding action steps) on a winding visual highway.
New platforms can overwhelm people, and clients aren’t always sure WHAT they want to do.
Offer “design hospitality” by using three pathways on your postcards (view samples/get a quote/connect with a specialist). Or build apps and landing pages offering three channels at key junctures (enroll/log in/ask me later).
People faced with too many choices are less likely to make any decision at all.
In your pitch, try offering purchase options in groups of three (platinum/silver/gold plans or 30-60-90/day subscriptions) to encourage a decision.
Three Panel Stories
One memorable way to sell products is by creating a third visual panel that surprises or delights.
Like a comic strip with a punchline at the end, three-panel stories should end with a splash of humor or a surprise. Here’s one example from a mattress sell sheet:
Panel 1: A donut with legs sitting on a luxurious mattress.
Panel 2: A donut hole with legs running at full sprint.
Panel 3: The running donut hole dives through the hollow belly of the seated donut and lands on the bed with a goofy smile.
Punchline: “The Perfect Mattress for Finding Your Center.”
From Disengagement to Delight
Good design takes people from confusion to clarity and from disengagement to delight. Use a narrative arc in your visuals to increase conversions and make your message stick!
by Ellen Lupton
The latest book from award-winning writer Ellen Lupton is a playbook for creative thinking, showing designers how to use storytelling techniques to create satisfying graphics, products, services, and experiences.
Design Is Storytelling explores the psychology of visual perception from a narrative point of view. Presenting dozens of tools and concepts in a lively, visual manner, this book will help any designer amplify the narrative power of their work.