The Basics of Design When Creating Content

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Creating a successful lead magnet is about more than just coming up with the perfect idea, pulling from your old blog posts, and sharing it with your readers. It’s also about design. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done, as many of us are not professional designers. To help you avoid some of the more common design mistakes when it comes to creating lead magnets, we’ve got some very helpful tips for you.

The Three Elements of a Great Lead Magnet

Before we jump in, we first need to take a step back and look at the key elements of every lead magnet. We’ve talked about this before, but it’s worth reiterating that a great lead magnet is the perfect combination of a unique voice, educational content, and above par design. Each of these elements strengthens the entire lead magnet, none of them can carry a lead magnet on their own.

Educational Content

Successful lead magnets start with high-quality educational content. You need a lead magnet that goes beyond just pitching your products and services, you need a lead magnet that teaches your readers something they don’t know. This should be information that is valuable to know even if they never do business with you. That’s not to say that you need to leave out your pitch entirely, just that it shouldn’t be the cornerstone of your lead magnet.

Unique Voice

Having a unique voice is central to your success when creating lead magnets. Even if you have great educational content, it’s not going to be read by anyone if the entire thing is communicated in a stale, dry tone.

What you’re looking for is something that stands out in your industry. Of course, that’s not to say that every lead magnet needs to be quirky and full of jokes, just that what you’re writing needs to be noticeably different when compared to your competitors. Differentiation doesn’t end at the things you’re selling, it extends to every piece of content you publish.

[bctt tweet=”At the end of the day, great design is there to highlight great content, not cover up bad content.” username=”beacon_by”]

Above Par Design

Having a unique voice and educational content will give you a lead magnet, but that lead magnet isn’t going to be a resounding success without a well-crafted design bringing it together. The reason behind this is that you could have two lead magnets with the same content, same voice, and same attention to detail, with one difference. One is a plain text document and one is enjoyable to read from a visual standpoint, filled with useful charts and engaging colors.

Which of these do you think is going to convert better? Yes, the one with the great design.

This is because great design elevates the things that it’s in support of. A great lead magnet becomes that much greater and more effective when packaged well.

What to Look For When It Comes to Designing a Lead Magnet

Designing a lead magnet involves more than just picking the right template. That’s not to say you need to overthink this, just that you need to figure out what the right direction is for your readers. There are three things you’ll need to know about: page layout, typography, and color.

Employing great design is one part of a successful lead magnet strategy. To learn more about defining your lead magnet strategy, check out our list of additional readings. Subscribe to get your copy.

Page Layout

The first decision you’ll need to make is in regards to the page layout. This will in many ways be an extension of the type of lead magnet you’re creating (ebook, email course, infographic, etc.), but regardless of the end format, you’ll need to make some big decisions for layout.

When creating your layout, there are a few tips you should follow.

  1. You shouldn’t crowd any of your content. The goal isn’t to put things on the smallest number of pages, but to instead make each page stand on its own merits.
  2. You’ll want to have a 60:40 ratio of text to non-text. That may seem like a lot, but when you’re reading through a lead magnet you really become appreciative of mental and visual breaks.
  3. You’ll want to pick a layout that gives you a sense of progress, whether that’s through page numbers, a progress bar, or some other indicator. If your goal is to get people to read to the end of a lead magnet you need to give them some indication that the end isn’t so far away.


Typography is an art in and of itself and we’d be mistaken to try and teach it in a single blog post. That being said, there are two things you need to know about typography.

First, you’ll want a highly readable font that’s easy on the eyes. These are called serif fonts (more about that here). Second, you’ll want to pick a font that doesn’t distract. It can be tempting to choose a font that really stands out, but you’re trying to support your content and voice, not distract from it.


As far as color goes, our best recommendation is to simply pick a color palette and stick with it. That’s because all too often we get the urge to come up with something that’s entirely unique and never before seen. Let’s just say there’s a reason some color palettes haven’t been used.

Beyond that rule of thumb, our advice for a color palette is to pick something that is both visually memorable, while not being distracting from the writing and images you’ll be using. Use bright colors sparingly and make sure there’s good contrast between the text and background colors.

The Importance of Images

Beyond the general rules of designing a lead magnet, there’s an entire world of images you’ll need to familiarize yourself with. In addition to great educational content and a unique voice, images are one of the biggest things that make or break lead magnets in terms of success.

We’re big believers in using free images. Before you jump to Google Image Search though, we’re not talking about just taking someone’s images. Instead, we’re big believers in using free stock images.

There are a few different sites you can search on (including inside of Beacon!), but if you’re pressed for time we’d recommend checking out Pexels, Unsplash, and Pixabay. Once you find a great image, we recommend using them as accents to break up the monotony of reading through a lead magnet.

Looking for more strategic insights? Check out our list of additional reading when it comes to defining your lead magnet strategy. Subscribe to get your copy.

How Creating Multiple Versions Lets You Test For Success

Our final tip is to not get too invested in any one particular design. Instead, treat design like you would any other part of your content marketing efforts: as an experiment. That means when you come up with a layout, find images, pick fonts, and decide on colors, you shouldn’t do it with the idea that this is all set in stone.

What you should be doing is publishing a lead magnet, seeing how people react to it, and then continually tinkering with the design of it over time to see how that affects people’s opinion of it. It’s not a horrible outcome if you designed something poorly, it’s only a horrible outcome if you design something poorly and then don’t do anything to fix it.

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