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How To Avoid Common Design Mistakes

by Campbell Jof Tweet - in Printshop Basics

Design Mistakes

Last updated on January 6th, 2022

The art of design is complex. Making design mistakes and messing it up is only a matter of tiny errors gone unnoticed. This is why it is often a more painful experience to be a graphic designer than a fruitful one. But it does not necessarily have to be. We’re here to help you with exactly that!

But before we start with the whats and hows of it all, we need you to understand a very basic fact. In order to create high-quality anything, small details are of crucial importance. Every little detail must be paid proper attention to.

But, at the same time, the bigger picture must be paid equal attention to while dealing with the minute details of things. People often forget, which is why the most common examples of design mistakes involve multiple extremely common UI (User Interface) mistakes or weak finishes.

How Do You Avoid Those?

Keep reading to get a clear grasp of these design mistakes. Use these useful tips to avoid the common design pitfalls that are much too prevalent that you’d imagine.

Here Are The Tips To Avoid Common Design Mistakes

01. Lack Of Proper Planning

i. Dummy Text

Although dummy lorem ipsum content or stock pictures may help you come up with a fast and easy, as well as harmonic and beautiful design, it won’t last.

As soon as you try placing the real content, you will realise how far from relevant your design really is. Your once sorted design will then look pretty out of the place and broken.

If this is something that you’d rather choose avoiding instead of easy or fast work, in order to keep your clients satisfied with the most relevant of designs, information is the first thing that you will need.

Gather as much information as possible about your projects to assemble more relevant content that either exists already or is to be produced.

To be more specific about the subject, before you start forming the UI design details of your project, you need to make sure you have up-to-date information about the kind of content that is to be depicted on each and every section so that you can make sure the allocation of the minute details of your design are nothing less than apt.

ii. Content Size

You also need to have a very proper and detailed idea about the size of the content for each and every section of your design like for example, word limit, image size, text line length, etc.

Although these seem like tad details, these are actually the very turning point of your project and any design without these minute details is very irrelevant and never a client’s favourite.

More because the whens and hows of the change of interface directly depends on these variables. These are therefore called edge cases and these you should always get correct as a graphic designer in order to avoid huge design mistakes.

iii. Image Limit

Investigating image limitations are also an important detail. Remember that saying about a picture expressing a thousand words?

This very concept is always at play as pictures tend to be pretty conceptual. This is why it is useless to use pretty but pointless images from stock pictures if your client comes with no custom photos neither purchases any.

Something pretty isn’t always enough. Images need to chosen to imply a more apt and deeper narrative or message. In this sense, content that don’t need to be there shouldn’t be used as overwhelming people with too much information won’t serve any purpose but only annoy customers.

Design Mistakes

iv. Repeating Blocks

Repeating blocks are another one of the important edge cases that you need to pay proper attention to.

You need to be able to perfectly match the text, images and other elements with the various features and the layout that you choose. The repeating blocks refer to the element blocks that form your entire design.

Proper planning is required for the layout so that it is apt for the elements as well as the ultimate message that you want your design to convey without any design mistakes.

Your visual solution should match your medium too. Visual structures differ from web to print to various other media. Design layouts, therefore, should be planned accordingly.

v. Scaling

Learn about the edge cases of your content with proper clarity because only then will you be able to use your space most efficiently and come up with the right UI choices for every interface piece of your design.

But do remember the most important fact that your content’s edge cases should be made in such a way that the UI is scalable for future UI changes in your design.

A good graphic designer is always proactive enough to stay one step ahead and think about future possibilities in client preference changes too along with the present ones.

02. Lack Of Annotation

The second biggest mistake that you might encounter with your graphic designs is missing annotation. But this is something that you should try and avoid. Your team members are able to see your design in a static form on their screens and it looks like a set of images to them.

They won’t be able to understand what you had in mind for each of the elements in your interface. What is obvious to you will not necessarily be that obvious to all.

This is why it is of utmost importance that you include annotations explaining the behavior of all parts of your design interface such as animations, addresses, links, screen interactions, etc, to others just to give them a clear idea of what exactly you had in mind.

Common Design Mistakes

If you skip this important explanation step, then there stands a risk of inviting misunderstandings and confusion, which might lead to your client rejecting your design because they’re likely to not even understand your design before rejecting it.

Do not risk adverse impact on the scope of your project, wastage of lots of development time or costs because that is exactly what’s likely to happen if you make the common design mistake of not including proper annotations with your design.

03. Vain Error States

While designing UI, you must not forget the primary purpose: to provide your users the smoothest interaction with your service as much as possible.

Your interface should be designed in such a way so that there is no place for confusion, doubts or uncertainty of any kind in it for your users. You should be able to provide clarity to your users through your interface, especially when it comes to error states.

When it comes to error states the following should be portrayed with proper clarity to your users:

i. It should be clearly noticeable. (Example: the common red color UI error pattern)

ii. The error as well as the fix should be clearly explained.

iii. The context of the error state should be portrayed with clarity. (Error messages should be shown beside the related element to showcase the context aptly)

iv. Error states are likely to irritate your audience, hence, make sure they’re not further irritated by too vain ones.

v. Unexpected errors should also be taken care of. (Example: Page not found or server error states and so on)

Error states are obvious design mistake obstacles to the interactive flow of the users and should be avoided at all costs.

If at all not avoidable, the error state should be explained as much as possible in order to help the user overcome it with the best available solutions, thereby smoothing out an experience that was supposedly a bad one. This should be done more in cases where the fault wasn’t the users’.

Design Mistake

For instance, a great solution to such cases can be interesting animations or illustrations portrayed through graphic design for 500 or 404 error pages to keep the user engaged and hooked to your brand, in spite of a bad error state experience.

Form Check Error States

While dealing with forms, a graphic designer must be careful in order to not overwhelm the user with error messages. All possible types of form checks must be dealt with care so that they don’t annoy the users and drive them away.

If it becomes difficult for a user to complete a form because of too many error alerts, they might leave your website in frustration. Therefore it is important to design form check error states so that they don’t piss off your users beyond recovery.

04. Empty States: The Most Commonly Overlooked UX Mistake

This topic is relatable to the last one that refers to the error states and also has connections to the ‘edge cases’ aspect of graphic design.

Empty states are just the absolute forms of edge cases and hence a designer should be proactive enough to be able to avoid them in their design. An absence of data can sometimes be frustrating for the user who is especially there because he’s looking for data.

Therefore a good graphic designer should be able to find great covers for the empty states in his design with elements that keep the user interested.

Such interesting elements can include icons, illustrations, amusing content that explains or content that leads the user to take a further action regarding the present state and so on.

Empty States

The best way to avoid this design mistake and make empty states interesting to your audience is to provide content informing them about the situation along with an apt visual.

Empty states are a great way to guide audience towards certain action, get them to learn more about your brand or just showcase your business’s personality. Empty states can be transformed into conversations with your audience while providing them with an interesting user experience.

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05. Improper Portrayal Of Typographic Hierarchy

The next most common design mistake is that of typography. This mistake is quite often evident even in cases of logo design. Text is the key when it comes to portraying informative content. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that it is clearly recognisable, readable and organised.

Text with proper formatting always gives users a clear idea of the message or information that is to be conveyed through a piece and helps them perceive the information that they’ve been looking for in your content with clarity, helping them focus on just the right and important things.

Improper Portrayal Of Typographic Hierarchy

a. Using The Right Font

Exploring and experimenting with fonts can be quite fun. But a lot of font variety can often annoy or tire your users. Therefore it is important that not more than three fonts are used in one particular piece of design layout in order to avoid users from experiencing font fatigue which is a common design mistake.

Make sure you don’t overload your design with too many font variations and choose font styles wisely so that they match the personality and the ultimate message of your design as well as content.

b. Proper Typography Kerning

Kerning is another important aspect of typography that needs to be paid proper attention to. Kerning is referred to the manual or automatic space adjustments that are made between characters.

Kerning is crucial because proper space adjustment of your text can provide sufficient clarity to your users and hence in a way can improve your user experience to good levels.

On the other hand, if kerning is not paid proper attention to or messed up, especially in cases of logo design, it might lead to adverse effects such as destruction of the cohesiveness of your design, confusions or misinterpretations that might ultimately affect your brand in a way that you’d not be looking forward to.

c. Maintenance Of Proper Visual Hierarchy

When it comes to common design mistakes and user experience, visual hierarchy is another element that is of crucial importance. The font styles that you include on each page in your design must have a proper and clear visual hierarchy.

Contrasting typography must be used to create a clear division of visuals between different levels of your content in order to establish a proper hierarchy to your user.

This hierarchy will help your users distinguish between the more important information with that of lesser importance.

06. Spacing And Padding Inadequacies

Proper spacing and padding is required in every piece of content that you expect viewers to engage in. This helps your content layout look organised, clean and in proper order for the viewers to read it and grasp the information as well as meaning without any issues.

The spaces should have uniform and same sizing throughout around the logical blocks of content (top, bottom, left and right sides).

Spacing And Padding Inadequacies

Uneven spaces will lead to your content looking messy and your users will end up not giving equal attention to the important parts or all of it as a whole.If the padding is smaller than it should be, your users might end up not being able to break your content into proper logical blocks.

In order to get your logical content blocks from merging and getting messy, make sure they are kept separate and large spaces are inserted between them.

Visual hierarchy should be maintained in your content in order to get your viewers to understand your content as well as pay attention to the parts you want them to pay attention to.

07. Iconography Messes

Icons can be used to express or visually describe a message or even the meaning of a certain message through symbols. Icons are very useful especially in the case of modern mobile interfaces where its a fundamental part of content.

In applications the icon usage is often synonymous to buttons. You can find a lot of icon examples with text on instagram. Because of the importance of icons, they can often go terribly wrong too.

So its important that their usage has proper context and meaning relating to the text and the content as a whole. It is important that you select the right icon in order for it to complement the meaning of the element in the most apt way.

And although this might sound quite simple, it is often a huge pain for freelance graphic designers to find the exact, apt and right icon for content.

Iconography Messes

The best solution to this design mistake is that you need to choose the simplest and the most common images that can both be easily understood as well as the context of it relating to the content. And then you need to be able to match those icons with the overall interface style.

Therefore advice is to go easy on your icon usage and go for the most common and simple ones while making sure all the spacing as well as dimensions are set to match the whole content as well as the parts they are used for or beside.

Another idea while you’re trying to be strictly selective with your free icon usage is to design some icons yourself. Custom icons are always a great way to provide a way better, interactive experience.

08. Contrast Errors

Contrast continues to be one of the most fundamental principles of design. Contrast is often used by graphic designers to get and maintain user attention. The human eye is engineered to like contrast. Contrast needs to be portrayed in place of differing elements on a page.

Contrast Errors

An important aspect of contrast to be kept in mind by designers is that contrasting elements should be bold and noticeable in order to create the contrast successfully.

However while using contrast, the designer must ensure that contrast overdose does not happen and that the contrast should be sufficient between text and images or between text block or paragraph separations.

White Space Mistakes

Contrast isn’t just about bold or noticeable elements in your content but also the proper positioning and usage of white space. White space is used in order to accentuate contrast and to help your readers register content with ease.

Therefore, it is a must to make sure white space is used correctly to make your elements contrast each other wherever it is required.

White space should also be positioned matching the contrast as well as the overall content and meaning. Graphic designers should avoid too much of white space as well as messy and crammed content.

09. Cross-Platform Ideating

Since it is common knowledge that mostly everything is accessed from mobile phones these days, designs in today’s world must be cross-platform efficient.

This should therefore ideally not be a problem anymore, but we still wanted to include it to serve as a reminder for those who have missed this idea or for those who wanted to save the extra money required for creating mobile-optimised designs.

Cross-Platform Ideating

To such people, we want to convey this important message that not optimising your designs for multiple devices today is a huge design mistake.

So much so that while creating your UI, you should always make sure that you have the very popular now mobile first approach because mobiles are mostly everything that are really used to access the web these days.

The content that has more chances to be the most popular should be highlighted and made convenient enough for your customer to access.

It is of utmost importance these days to keep in mind the wide roster of versatile devices that your content might be accessed from and make your design efficient enough to be accessed from all of them.

10. Too Much Design

When it comes to the best things these days, less is more. This is partly because people hardly have any time and partly because too much of anything tends to confuse people and rarely serves the purpose. Just because there are a lot of elements that you can add to your design does not mean that it will be a great idea.

A simple and crisp design is the best thing that you can offer your audience. Anything that overloads their vision will overwhelm them negatively and they might just not like it. Never go crazy with your design because over-designing is mostly a mistake and not an advantage.

Cramming too many colors, font styles and other elements into your graphic design will not give enough visual prominence to the important bits and it will be difficult for your customer to find what they might be looking for.

Common Design Mistake

In the same sense, blank spaces are not really a bad idea, but on the contrary they are much better than overloading every piece of your screen space.

Did you come across graphic design mistakes like these that got you into trouble? Whether you did manage to find a solution on your own before you received our tips, or not, do share your design mistake story with us in the comments section below.

We at Designhill, as well as our magical new platform, Printshop will constantly strive towards helping you find the best design solutions.

We are always there to help creative people thrive along with us. Any problems you might have regarding design or finding the creative solutions will definitely be solved when you resort to our platforms.

From finding the best platform to accentuate your art, showcasing them to millions of customers globally or empowering you beyond norms with distinctly favorable terms for artists, Printshop will get you hooked on its versatility and eccentricity.

Happy designing!


Now that you know which common design mistakes you need to watch out for along with the solutions to avoid the same, make sure you follow these useful tips in order to avoid making a mess out of your design. Avoiding such little errors gone unnoticed mostly can help you make your design much more compact while successfully conveying the message to your audience with utmost clarity.

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I'm a blogger and designer and I work as a creative head for Designhill. I write on topics concerning design, ecommerce, startups, digital marketing, interactive content. My creative work has earned me several laurels over the years. Facebook | Twitter | Google+

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