No designer is perfect, especially when you’re a rookie designer. All designers have created pieces, including myself, that were plain ugly, with a capital “U.” Lucky for us, we can learn from these mistakes and move on. Or we redesign them. There are many mistakes, surely more than 5, a designer will make that they need to avoid. Here they are in no particular order.
1. POOR TYPOGRAPHY CHOICES
Choosing poor typography will ruin a design and change the message you are trying to send. Whatever you choose, please do not use Curlz, Papyrus or Comic Sans, these are just a few bad examples.
According to Gendelman, there are 11 fonts that should never be used. Other designers will laugh at you if you use them. Poor fonts include those that are not consistent with the business brand, that don’t set the mood/look for their guidelines and the ones that are illegible. Avoid poor font choices by only using 2 or 3 font families per project, pair a serif and sans serif font for visual interest and be aware of stroke thickness against the background.
2. NOT PROOFREADING
You would think that this is a no brainer and basic, but one of the last things to do after you have designed a piece is to proofread it. There is nothing more embarrassing than someone pointing out that there are misspelled words in your design. Make sure to do a spell check before sending your designs over to print or before the whole world sees them on a website.
There is a reason why ALL programs have grammar and spell check. Like I said, every designer makes mistakes, however this is one mistake that may cost you more than embarrassment. It can cost the company a lot of money and you may get yourself into a pickle. Please use spell check. Enough said.
3. BUILDING GRAPHICS AND LOGOS IN RASTER FORMAT
Please avoid raster logos and graphics at all costs for the most part. Raster images are just evil if they are low resolution. Raster images are made up of pixels and are set to a certain resolution It you are lucky to work with a high resolution file then life is great and you can continue your design. However, most of the time you will get images that are low resolution. They will break your design into pieces. Examples of these can be viewed above.
If you must use the image, don’t enlarge it too much. If you have the time, then use illustrated images. If you don’t have time, use Photoshop to clean up the blurry pixels around the image and touch up the logo/image. This will give you a clean and sharp look. What else can I say. As a designer you have a reputation to build and maintain. Refuse to use raster images.
4. USING TOO MUCH OR TOO LITTLE COLOR
I love to use color in my designs and in my home, but as is the case when eating all delicious food, it must be consumed in moderation. Most people have a small tolerance for too much color. Too much color will create an overwhelming, cluttered, and informal feeling in the piece. Choose your color swatches carefully. Use at least 3 colors that will set the look and feel of your piece. You will also create a tone if you use only 2 colors.
There is nothing wrong with eating vanilla ice cream, it’s simply plain, but add some strawberries or sprinkles and all of a sudden you will have a whole different experience. As a designer you must balance all the elements in the design, otherwise there will be chaos and viewers will be turned off by your design. Remember to use complimentary colors. One tip that has helped me is to create several versions of the same piece and then you can choose which one best fits the look you are trying to achieve.
5. MAKING EVERYTHING PERFECTLY SYMMETRICAL
This last tip is really more of an aesthetic preference. Most symmetrical designs are boring and people loose interest fast. If you’re going to use symmetrical layouts make them interesting. Symmetrical designs can look nice if you add more elements. Include graphics that will create an unexpected and dynamic look. A great symmetrical example is the third one above with the guy who is a designer and coder. This design works because he has created an interesting symmetrical look by changing the style on the left side of the design.
There are numerous other mistakes that designers have made and will make, the important thing is to learn from your mistakes, try not to repeat them and have a checklist of things to review before you send your final design over to your client. One other tip to avoid making design mistakes is to have other designers or co-workers give you their feedback. They will be honest and provide you with a new perspective that you might have otherwise missed.
What is the one design mistake that you can’t stand? Share with us in the comments below.
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