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10 Common Graphic Design Mistakes to Avoid

Henny Kel by Henny Kel Tweet - in Graphic Design - 5 min read

Too Many Fonts

Last updated on November 8th, 2017

Whether you’re a brand new designer looking to jump into your first order or you’re an old hand who’s looking for a refresher, these common graphic design mistakes can ambush any designer and potentially cause a lot of harm. So, take a look through these critical mistakes you need to keep an eye out for. As long as you stay vigilant and double check everything, none of these problems should bother you.

So, take a look through these critical graphic design mistakes you need to keep an eye out for.

As long as you stay vigilant and double check everything, none of these problems should bother you.

1. Not Understanding Instructions

As in all things, communication between the designer and the client is critical. While it’s the prerogative of the client to provide clear and informative instructions, it’s the responsibility of the designer to ensure they understand those instructions, even if that requires additional queries sent to the client. Creative Bloq highly suggests going over the client directives multiple times while taking notes and brainstorming. Whenever something confusing crops up in the directives, it’s critical that you get in contact with the client right away in order to clear things up.

Graphic Design Mistakes_1

  1. Staying in the Box

While the statement of thinking out-of-the-box may be cliched, that doesn’t mean it isn’t true. A major graphic design mistake in all types of graphic design is staying in the well-traveled ruts and sticking to what is known. Graphic design is a creative process, and as such, you need to be creative in order to truly be successful. Go for the crazy and weird, try things out, experiment and play around. Not everything will be a success, but nothing will be if you don’t try.

  1. Too Many Fonts

Playing with fonts may be fun, but if someone is trying to read through something that changes font type ten times in a paragraph, it’ll get tiring and annoying quickly. Planet of the Web suggests using no more than three fonts in any single layout, though sticking to just one, or maybe two is even better. A single font adds continuity, which is good.

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  1. Over Thinking Everything

Just because you can add something to your design doesn’t mean you should. Simplicity has plenty of perks on its own, so be careful about going crazy with the Photoshop filters. Over-designing isn’t a major mistake, but it can cause some serious problems. The more stuff in your design, the harder a viewer needs to think to extract the info. As Rasmussen College discusses, a design needs to breathe and flourish on its own. Having blank space isn’t necessarily bad, and in many cases, it’s better than filling every square inch of blank space with something.

  1. Over-Promise then Under-Deliver

Out of all the mistakes covered so far, this is by far one of the most severe and potentially damaging. As Go Layer Cake states, when it comes to graphic design, you’ll rarely, if ever, find a job that is “quick.” So when discussing deadlines and expectations with your client, you’ll want to make sure you don’t promise them something amazing, and then fail to meet that promise. It’s better to finish a project ahead of a long deadline than late on a short deadline.

  1. Kerning Your Fonts

If you’ve never heard of kerning before, don’t worry, it’s very simple. According to We Design Studios, kerning is the process in typography where the space between letters in adjusted, either manually or automatically. Kerning is important because in some situations, adjusting the space between letters can make the wording more legible and pleasing to the eye. However, misusing kerning or not paying close attention to it can cause some major problems, from misinterpretations to destroying a design’s cohesiveness.

  1. Stock Images

Ah, stock images. While it’s not wrong to use stock images, it’s best to go easy on them. Using too many stock photos makes a project look cheap and, in some cases, unprofessional. Plus, there are plenty of stock images out there that people will instantly recognize since they’ve seen them all over.

  1. Check for Spelling

Yes, you are a graphic designer and not a writer, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to pass on proper spelling. While you may feel that running a quick spell check after finishing your project is all you’ll need, there are plenty of graphic design mistakes that spell check systems can miss. So follow Creative Pro’s advice, pay close attention to the details and comb over your project before sending things to print.

Graphic Design Mistakes_3

  1. Grammar Issues

Along with spelling problems, you want to make sure your project has proper grammar. While a misused comma or other punctuation marks may not seem like a major problem, there are plenty of people out there that will see a small slip like that and disregard the entire rest of the project. 

  1. Designing for Yourself

Finally, it is always absolutely imperative that you stay cognizant of the fact that you’re designing a project for a client. Whether you’re a freelancer or working with a site like Designhill, it’s incredibly important that you stick to the client instructions and don’t make changes because you think it looks better. As Rasmussen College states, the customer is paying for a graphic design, and your job as a designer is to do all you can to help the customer achieve their vision.

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Henny Kel

I am a graphic, web designer and blogger with over 6 years experience. I am very passionate about anything related to design and spends copious amounts of time hidden behind a book or a screen and reading about design. Twitter | Google +



  • Agnieszka

    I think, in the number 10, there could also be an option to send as the proposition, the version that in our eyes looks better. Although, there is still a chance that client won’t accept it. Then there is no need to argue, he pays for this project after all.

  • Julie Banzger

    About #10. I think that a good designer should know and be able to convince the client what is really better for him.
    Thank you for the article!

    • Felix Danger

      Though I agree that the client shouldn’t be so focused on their own vision that they don’t listen to design expertise, If a designer and client have enough communication to accurately establish the goals of a project, then what is best for the client is just a matter of meeting those established goals and shouldn’t surprise anyone.

      Who’s the demographic?
      What are the key colors of the brand?
      Is the market part of a particular social group?
      What are the competitors doing?
      What kind of statement should the project make?
      Is the product or service expensive or cheap?

      Any convincing of how to address these kinds of questions should happen early on in discussion.

  • Kale Tingelstad

    Great tips. I did find it ironic however that tip #6 has a spelling error and tip #8 says not to do that.