The 20 Rules of Good Design is a great place to start to understand the necessary elements in creating a successful design layout that creates the intended message for your project.
The 20 Rules listed are explained at:
1. Have a concept.
2. Communicate – don’t decorate.
3. Speak with one visual voice.
4. Use two typefaces maximum. Okay, maybe three.
5. Use the one-two punch.
6. Pick colors on purpose.
7. If you can do it with less, do it.
8. Negative space is magical. Create it, don’t just fill it up.
9. Treat the type as image, as though it’s just as important.
10. Type is only type when it’s friendly.
11. Be universal. Remember, it’s not all about you.
12. Squish and separate.
13. Distribute light and dark like firecrackers and the rising sun.
14. Do it on purpose, or don’t do it at all.
15. Measure with your eyes. Design is visual.
16. Create images, don’t scavenge.
17. Ignore fashion. Seriously.
18. Move it! Static = Dull.
19. Look to history. Don’t repeat it.
20. Symmetry is evil.