How’s your latest e-book doing? How’s your oldest e-book doing? Have downloads dipped? It’s frustrating, we know, but sometimes a few quick tweaks to your e-book design can really improve your readers’ experience, making them more eager to consume your content and connect with your brand. If the content in your e-book is gold, but people are tapping out before they get to page 2, consider how a makeover might help.

Does Your E-book Design Need a Makeover?

Design integrity has a lot to do with how content quality is perceived. First, print out your latest e-book. Take a critical look at what’s in front of you:

  • What catches your eye?
  • How does it flow?
  • What do you feel when you look at it?

These gut reactions and first impressions are what your reader probably experiences, too. We hate to see you give off the wrong impression, so we’re here to help. All it takes is a little creativity to turn a blah design into something beautiful. Here are 6 ways to do it.

1) Choose a Theme

The problem: Your design is totally generic or all over the place, mixing clashing styles, imagery, and visual metaphors right and left.

The fix: E-books are awesome because they give you a nice creative canvas to tell your story. The best, most effective e-books deliver a single story, and use every element of design to support it. Choose a single theme or concept to ground the design, then use your creativity to bring it to life.

6 ways to makeover e-book design

2) Rehab Your Cover

The problem: The cover is the first thing people see, but too often marketers miss the mark. The most common mistakes: too cluttered, no imagery, irrelevant imagery, boring typography, generic design.

The fix: Let your content be the guide. Use high-quality imagery to catch the reader’s eye and draw them in. The cover should match the content theme and infuse a little brand personality into it. There should also be an intuitive grid-based layout and logical header hierarchy so that everything is clear at a glance.

6 ways to makeover your e-book design

3) Add Personality with Imagery

The problem: Your e-book looks like a PowerPoint: generic templates, boring iconography, etc.

The fix: Consider both the tone of the content and your brand personality. The images you use should help cultivate a feeling that supports your message. Is your e-book about employee collaboration? Let’s see people working together. Is it about increasing revenue? Let’s see some tasteful data visualization.

6 ways to makeover e-book design

4) Condense and Trim Down Copy

The problem: Someone got a little carried away in trying to build suspense, so you have to flip through 5 pages of “teaser” content before you get to the meat of a section. Conversely, they packed so much in that you’re facing a cluttered mess on each page.

The fix: Know two things: Negative space is your friend, and pages should be used economically. While chapter breaks may deserve their own page, condense content to deliver the message efficiently. Oftentimes this means trimming down content on a page. Removing an extraneous pullquote or sidebar can make a huge difference. Also look for opportunities to let design do the heavy lifting. A paragraph explaining a process can be visualized in a single diagram. A stat in a callout can be turned into a chart. These are great ways to break up the text.

6 ways to makeover e-book design

5) Kill the Visual Junk

The problem: Some designers hear the word “visualize” and go nuts, packing every page with illustrations, photos, charts, or iconography.

The fix: Look critically at every visual element. Ask yourself:

  • Does this enhance the story? Things like illustrations are often added arbitrarily without much thought.
  • Can it be condensed? Data visualization can sometimes make things even more confusing if, say, you’re trying to compare three bar charts when a single grouped bar chart would do it better.
  • Does it make sense? This is especially true for icons, which can be far too abstract to represent anything meaningful.

If the answer isn’t yes, say bye.

6 ways to makeover your e-book

In addition visual elements, colors can sometimes overwhelm. A helpful tip: Use 1-2 main colors and 2-3 accent colors.

6) Tame Your Typography

The problem: There are so many fonts and sizes it looks like a teenager’s notebook.

The fix: Limit the number of type styles (the combination of kerning, leading, point size, etc.) to create consistency and harmony. Also, don’t use more than 2 typefaces, and do follow a grid.

6 ways to makeover e-book design