Yearbook Design Ideas

I’m pretty sure that, while I consider myself to be creative, I’ve probably never had an idea that somebody else hadn’t thought of first.

In terms of almost everything in the world (except maybe technology) there are no more original ideas. There are just reenactments of old ideas with a new generation as the audience.

Movie themes…  what’s new there? Fashion… how many times will we repeat plaid? Or bell bottoms?

One of the most unique things I ever did was when I began to create customized photo collages for parents of athletes. Even this was not my original idea, though. A parent suggested it.

It was truly a success for several years until a few other local photographers mastered Photoshop to enough of a degree that they could copy my idea. But the main point here is that it was not my idea in the first place!

So since I’m no Steve Jobs, I’ll just continue to be as creative as possible and, when it comes to ideas, try and be on the front end of a trend.

This is extremely important in the world of yearbooks. I want very much for our yearbook to look like the year during which it was produced. Nothing bugs me more than picking up a yearbook and wondering whether it was made in 1993 or 2013.

“We’ve always” should NEVER be part of your vocabulary when you are planning your yearbook. I know you will get some flak from your administration if the design is a little too “out there.” But that book really needs to look like the year it is, and yes I know that students do not have the same level of First Amendment rights as the rest of us. Your administration needs to understand that this is not your grandma’s yearbook!

That being said, there are some things you really need to watch out for when you make your modern design. So please allow me to share some of our mistakes so you do not make them:

If your school is really in love with its school colors, it might be financially devastating to deviate from that on the yearbook cover. I think back to our mostly green cover in 2003. There are dozens of that book left in my closet at school! Our customers expect red and black. We can’t really change that much. But we have found that white and gray work, too. So as long as we have any of those four as the dominant color our books will sell.

Can you guess which of these yearbooks did not sell at a school whose colors are red and black? Be very careful with your color choices!

Can you guess which of these yearbooks did not sell at a school whose colors are red and black? Be very careful with your color choices!

If you’re thinking of not putting the school colors on the cover, please, please, PLEASE make sure that you are very careful not to choose a color palette that even remotely resembles a rival school. Color is such a powerful thing. Do lots of research before choosing a palette.

If “everybody” used a font or a design element in last year’s book, then don’t use it! It’s old! That’s what we did in 2008. We used a font that everybody used in 2007. It wasn’t that fun anymore.

Speaking of fonts, there are some you should NEVER use. Consider them retired. Permanently. Never coming out of retirement. Comic Sans and Times New Roman are not allowed. Capisce?

And please limit yourself to just one font family or just two fonts. Nothing says 1998 like a different font for every section of the yearbook. When you flip through your yearbook pages, the whole book should look like it is from the same school! Do your research when making font choices.

Make sure that your one font is easy to read, and don’t make your captions so small that it takes a magnifying glass to read them.  Some of the most gorgeous yearbooks I’ve seen in the past few years have had type that I cannot read. I need 8-point type. I understand that young eyes might be able to read 6-point type, but a yearbook is forever. So you’re going to need to make the type a little bigger for when your customers become less young and invincible!