Every company has at least one design experience that they wish they could forget. Some of us have many painful memories where common sense temporarily eluded us. There’s certainly no shame in making design mistakes, as long as it serves as a learning experience of what not to do in the future.
With that said, here are 10 of the most common graphic design mistakes to avoid:
1. Deliver a poorly written creative brief
One of the most common graphic design errors occurs before projects even begin; it revolves around the fact that the designer doesn’t understand what is expected of them in the first place. In most cases, this is due to a poorly written creative brief or a breakdown in communication between the designer and the client. Whatever the situation, it is impossible to receive a great job if the designer does not understand his expectations.
Fortunately, this is also an easy mistake to correct. Always provide in-depth details about every aspect of the project, especially your ideal customers and the critical message to attract them. Good communication will ensure the smooth running of the project, so never hesitate to ask for additional feedback.
2. Use amateur software for professional work
With many online resources available these days to design logos, banners, and other advertisements, it’s not that difficult for anyone to create an attractive design in a relatively short time. However, these seemingly “professional” creations have many disadvantages. Most free programs use raster graphic imaging instead of the industry-standard vector.
There is simply no substitute for professional design work. While it may seem wise to save a little money with a do-it-yourself design, it often costs more in the long run between the time wasted and the missed sales opportunities of amateur work. You’ll save money in the long run by hiring a professional who understands the design and uses the latest software to carry out your projects.
3. Over-design to chaos
Similarly, it is quite possible to ask a designer to do too much in a given project. Whether it’s using an abundance of bold color choices, implementing too many graphics, or making the design way too loaded, these mistakes usually hurt the overall concept more than they help it.
That’s not to say that excessive page design still can’t be appealing to the end-user; it is simply an unnecessary distraction. Less is almost always more in graphic design because it allows consumers to link with the brand in question.
4. Focus too much on popular design trends
Keeping an eye on the latest advances in design is essential for any designer who wants to stay at the top of their field. At the same time, however, it’s a bad idea to replicate another company’s success simply because a particular style is popular. What works for a business may not work for your business and your customers. Not to mention that the design will quickly feel overwhelmed once the trend passes.
One of the great joys of being a graphic designer is using creativity and style to create designs that resonate with consumers. It’s a good idea to look for inspiration, as long as it doesn’t stop the designer from finding the unique design solution your project needs.
5. Save in the wrong design formats
While most design software allows users to save in TIFF (Tagged Image File Format), Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPG), and several other extensions, how do you decide which one is right for your project? The answer depends on how you will use the finalized graphic and the features required for the design.
When choosing a file format for a photograph or design image, consider whether the image should be in vector format and how it will be compressed. Also, think about whether the design will be printed or displayed online; it will make it easier to choose the ideal way to save the work. Your designer should also help you make these decisions once they know how to use the finished product.
6. Rely too much on free images
While stock photography is a quick and affordable solution for some projects, beware of photographs and creative commons websites that offer unlimited and unrestricted use; not only do these images tend to be low resolution, but there is also a risk of copyright infringement and other unintended consequences.
It is always good to purchase photographs that guarantee exclusive use via the purchased license whenever possible. This means that no one else has the right to use your images for any purpose, which protects you and your brand afterward.
7. Go overboard with typography and fonts
Much of graphic design relies on selecting the right fonts to convey a message; choosing the perfect typography for a given mission can distinguish between success and failure. Strategy is about creating balance in a finite space, so overloading a section with too much text makes the entire room cluttered. The same problem occurs when too much is crammed into a single title or slogan; it just doesn’t work.
A similar problem is using too many fonts in one room; it’s distracting and removes the overall design. Aim for a maximum of two fonts with varying weights on any design part.
Choosing the right fonts means making sure that the typography style complements the lines and angles of the imagery. As long as it is close, the design piece will work well. And most importantly, people will be able to understand your message.
8. Not proofreading content
While many pairs of eyes may seem unlikely to forget a typo during multiple events, it’s a fairly common phenomenon in the marketing world. That’s because our brain allows us to see what we think should be on the page instead of what’s actually on it. Don’t get me wrong, though; Not proofreading a design specification before sending it to a printer or putting it online will never end in a good result, no matter who made a mistake.
The good news is that avoiding typos is pretty easy with a bit of practice. Read the design element from bottom to top so that your mind doesn’t automatically make assumptions about the words on the page. Having someone who is not familiar with the proof of the project is also a good tactic.
9. Do not take advantage of white spaces
You probably have a lot to say to your customers as a brand. That doesn’t mean you have to give your designer two pages of text and ask them to summarize everything in a postcard; it only distracts the reader and makes them miss the essentials. That’s why the white space in a drawing is just as important as the words on the page.
There’s a reason most ads have a healthy balance between visual appeal and empty spacing; this is to ensure that the consumer’s eye quickly finds the call to action on the page. When used correctly, it brings out great work and provides a quick connection with the intended audience.
10. Missing the overall point
While there’s no guaranteed way to impress every customer 100% of the time, dumb mistakes can be minimized by doing your homework and seeing what types of design projects have already worked in your industry by measuring customer feedback on these campaigns and understanding why ideas have succeeded or failed.
Also, be very careful not to let your tastes get in the way of what’s best for your brand. Good design should be a natural extension of the message, and the implications should be obvious. So be very careful not to be a little too clever with your delivery.
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