• Girish Chawla

Fundamentals of Design in Social Media

You have a great idea in your mind and want to start working on it. But, you need social media presence sometimes, right? Creating posts is not a big deal. However, you need to know the fundamentals of graphic designing beforehand. Nothing is more important than having an attractive feed with beautiful templates. Content is king, we all have heard of it. But, the design is the backbone of social media pages. Be it a blog or online shopping. Design is essential.

In this article, I will not teach you how to start designing right away. But rather, help you with the technical terms related to it that many people ignore and hence don't know how to solve it afterwards. I will also explain the importance of graphic design and its role in social media. Be it your own merch or a website, it is everywhere. Without further ado, let's get right into it:

What is Graphic Designing?

It is the craft of creating visual content to communicate messages. Every informational post you see on Instagram from various handles such as BuzzFeed, Pinkvilla, ScoopWhoop, etc. was made by someone who had prior knowledge of design, right? So, it is quite important and one of the important skills to learn.

It uses visual compositions to solve problems and communicate ideas through typography, imagery, colour and form. While designing, you take care of a lot of stuff such as fonts, images used, colour scheme and even the formatting as in where everything should bee placed in order to make it more appealing to the audience who sees it.

Mind you, designers are not only used in creating social media content. They work in a wide range of industries catering to their clients through:

  • Corporate design: any logo you see is created by graphic designers

  • Editorial design: includes magazines, newspapers and books. Yes, even books. For example, book covers.

  • Web design: includes the actual UI design and even includes banners, ads you see on the website.

  • Product design: Smartphones, laptop, even the design of a bulb, mouse, sportscar, etc. needs one to have a good knowledge of design.

  • Advertising: print ads, billboards, flyers, etc. everything is an important part of advertising and hence requires graphic designers.

Role of Graphic Design in Social Media

As we discussed earlier, it helps to create visually appealing social media posts, website banners, professional logos, newsletters, etc. which:

  • Boost your sales: More people will share your posts on social media, website traffic will go up, subscriptions gonna rise. All because of good design.

  • Creates credibility and a professional image. You will be remembered by your company's logo, right?

  • Build your own identity: Create your own banners, posts from scratch. That will help you in achieving your own identity.

  • Social media presence: Yes, it's going to happen. As I said, content and design both are important.

  • Website design: As mentioned earlier, it is quite important in designing websites as well.

  • Merchandise design: If in future, you want to sell your own merchandise, you need someone to design it for you.

Tool Used by Designers Worldwide

It can be categorised into software and web app:

Adobe is a leading brand when it comes to design with more than 20 software used directly or indirectly to design stuff. Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign are the most popular Adobe software along with Acrobat which is used for PDF editing. The other two software called GIMP and InkScape is similar to Photoshop and CorelDRAW respectively but are open source. CorelDRAW is also another leading software used to create vector graphics similar to Illustrator.

Now, coming to the web apps. Their free version is quite good but is only limited with few ready-made templates. If you want to create something from scratch, you are going to have a tough time doing so. And even the tools are limited as compared to any Adobe software. They include Canva, Adobe Spark (yes, even Adobe has a web app specifically used for social media designing), Lucidpress, Over and Placeit. Now, one more thing to keep in mind is that web apps are easy to use and can be learned without any help. I have created a few flyers on Canva and Instagram stories on Spark Post and they work pretty well and are easy to use. But, Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign are the best with a lot of features and they get regular updates as well.

Technical Terms to Remember

Raster and Vector

I will give you a really simple example here:

When you click a photograph on your smartphone and try to zoom in, you can do that only up to a point before it starts losing quality. After that, you can see small squares of colours, which are called pixels. You might have heard of it previously. You know, a 48-megapixel camera. Such an image is called a raster. Yes, so in conclusion, a photo taken from a camera is an example of a raster.

Now, coming to a vector. When you open a PDF consisting of, for example, text and try to zoom in (try if you haven't), you will observe that it never lose its quality. You will never see pixels there. That's a vector. Get it? Very basic but useful terms that one needs to remember.

Keep in mind vector has an advantage here. It never loses its quality. Never. Can't say the same for a raster graphic.

Now, remember two things: PPI stands for pixels per inch and DPI stands for dots per inch.

Vector requires less space as compared to raster. How you may ask? Let me give you an example here: Let's assume there are 8-10 paragraphs of text that one needs to store digitally. You have two options: write it down, and save it as a photograph or a scan. or else, type it down in a text editor, convert to PDF and save it. Which one do you think will use less space? PDF, right? It will not use more than 100-500 KB of space, whereas a single photograph (also depending on the megapixels of the camera) will take up more than an MB of storage. And this is the least I am talking about. Get it?

Now, to make things simple, if you are posting on social media, it needs to be a raster i.e. an image. However, if you are attaching a guide in a form of a PDF in your blog or through a link, make sure it's a vector because the vector is of small size and hence can be downloaded quickly.

Source: Dever Designs


Here, I will explain all the points by again giving an example: You click a photograph, you zoom in on your smartphone, you see pixels as discussed earlier. However, try printing the same photograph on a paper and then zoom in using a magnifying glass. You will observe dots instead of squares. And that's it. That's called the resolution. Yes, just like the once you find on your phone. That's measured in terms of PPI i.e. pixels per inch. For printing. However, it's measured in terms of DPI i.e. dots per inch. Get it? While measuring resolution, PPI is for display and DPI for print. That's it. You only need to remember this.

A thumb rule is higher the PPI or DPI, better the output. Basically, clearer image or print. The concept of DPI is very important while printing. You can see this in the image. On the left side, an image with higher PPI is clear when zoomed and on the right side, print with more DPI shows more detail.

Now, keep in mind that while exporting your image, make sure PPI is at least 72. Here, DPI doesn't matter as you are not printing. Rather, you are displaying it as a web image.

Source: 99designs


RGB stands for Red, Green and Blue whereas CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key i.e. the colour black. Pretty basic. RGB colour scheme is used when you want to display something on a screen. For example, social media posts, infographics, digital logos, icons, etc. Whereas, CMYK is used when something needs to be printed at the end. For example, billboards, posters, flyers, etc.

Now, an important thing to keep in mind: The highest value that RGB colours can attain is 255 and for CMYK colours, it is 100. At 255, RGB attains white colour and at 100, CMYK attains black colour which is exactly the opposite as compared to RBG, right? You can see that in the image. Fine-tuning the colour values will help us in getting suitable colours. Basically, these values exist to help us get the exact same colour we want. If we turn the value to 0 in both colour schemes, we get black colour for RGB and white colour for CMYK. Exactly the opposite colour when compared to the highest values for both.

In short, the black colour is obtained when the RGB colours are at min. value i.e. at 0, and CMYK colours at max. value i.e at 100.

As you might have learned, photos need to be in RGB for social media. CMYK colours are quite dull and hence not used for electronic displays.

Source: 99designs

Now that you have learned important terms related to exporting designs for social media, start creating posts on your own using web apps in the beginning. If you wish, you can download Photoshop for free through its 7-day free trial. In the near future, I will explain how we create our own social media posts on Photoshop and Illustrator either using a template or creating it on our own. Happy posting!

Featured Image: Illustration by Stories by Freepik

#design #technology #socialmedia


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