design terms

20 + Design Terms Every Entrepreneur Should Know

Sooner or later you as an entrepreneur will have to invest your time and money on creating marketing assets. Assets include but are not limited to logos, web pages, online banner ads, email designs, business cards, and brochures.

You will need to communicate your ideas with designers and developers.

We’ve gathered a list of useful design terms you want to get acquainted with that will help facilitate communication.


Asymmetrical: This occurs when design elements are not identical on both sides of a central line.


Binding: The way multi-page assets such as catalogs are put together, usually through gluing, or stitching.


CMYK: This stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. It is the industry standard for printing. Whenever you want to order printing assets make sure your designer submits artwork in this color mode.

Color Schemes: A color scheme is the combination of two more colors.

CSS: Code that is used to describe the presentation look a web page.


Dodge: When part of an image is lightened or reduced by shading.

Drop Shadow: An effect gives the impression that there is a shadow behind a design element.

Dummy: No, this isn’t an insult. This is a prototype that is handmade by a designer to show how the finished design will look, most commonly used for print designs.

It is also known as a mock-up.


Element: Any specific part of a design project such as the logo, text, and images.


Feathering: This is a technique that is used to smooth out edges or features.

Font: A specific style and size for text.


GIF: An image file format that is best suited for small files with few colors and simple design.

Gif’s can also be animated.

Gradient: A technique that enables the designer to create elements featuring a smooth transition of colors.

Grayscale: An image that consists of black, white, no color, and about 256 shades of gray.


HTML: Short for Hyper Text Markup Language. The markup language is used to create web pages.

Hue: Another word for color.


Invert Inversion: This occurs when color values value of an image are inverted. For example on an inverted image, black becomes white, and blue becomes orange.


JPEG: The most common file format for compressing images. Usually, the best file that should be used for photographs.

Justify: To make a line of text a certain length by spacing out the words and numbers.


Kerning: The space between individual letters.


Noise: Occurs when an area of pixels contains random colors. Usually, this is unwanted.


Opacity: Adjusting opacity will make images and design elements transparent.

Outline: This refers to the outside edge of a font or the outer edge of a vector image. In order to replicate a specific font on a printing asset such as a business card, make sure to let your designer know to outline the text before they submit their artwork.


Pixel: A dot made by a computer, scanner or other digital devices, which are the smallest possible elements on a computer screen.

PNG: A compressed image file. This format displays images without jagged edges and also keeps the file size small. Great for websites.

PDF: This file format is best used to present documents and presentations.


Resolution: An important factor of how an image will look. The higher the resolution, the less pixilated an image will look.

RGB: This stands for red, green, and blue. This is the color model that televisions screens and computer monitors use to display colors. If your designer is in RGB mode and you need to order printing, make sure files are converted to CMYK.


Saturation: The intensity of a color.


Thumbnail: A considerably smaller version of an image.

Text Warp: This a feature that enables a picture or diagram to be surrounded by text.

Typeface: This is a collection of characters such as numbers, letters, and punctuations.


Vector Graphic: A vector graphic or vector image allows the designer to shrink or enlarge the graphic, without any loss of quality.


Watermark: Something identifiable, such as a company’s logo, that is placed on artwork to protect against counterfeiting.

White Space: The empty space that surrounds a design element. Too much white space will may make your design piece empty, not enough of it will make your design cluttered.


Oubly is a platform that offers offers custom business cards, postcards, canvas prints, and more.

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