Last updated on August 8th, 2018
Graphic design is awesome. Without it, content on the Internet would be so drab, lifeless, and colorless, just like a website circa 1996 when the images were tiny. We don’t even wanna think about it anymore! Killer design, on the other hand, takes us to our happy place. However, even with a great graphic designer on board, a project can still miss the bullseye with the target audience if the designer still has a few bad habits in their game. If you’re a budding graphic designers who’s venturing into the realm of digital marketing.
Here Are 9 Easily Preventable Mistakes Graphic Designers Make
01. You’re Doing Too Much Design
This mistake is down to our psychology as much as anything else.
Imagine you get a new brief off a client that you want to impress. The money is good, too.
The problem when the money is good and the client is big, that we sometimes tend to overdo things.
“If I don’t show them I’ve done lots and lots of work they might think they’re paying me for nothing.”
However, the talent and skill of a world-class graphic designer are all in their ability to be good with brevity.
In other words, it’s all about knowing how to create an awesome design that resonates with people while looking clean, clinical, and simple. It’s all about knowing when to stop so that you don’t go too far. Less is more.
When we overdo things, it’s then that our lack of professionalism shows through a lack of discipline and ingenuity.
Take a look at the example from Apple below. It’s tasteful — and it’s incredibly simple. And yet it probably took the graphic designer months to create. It’s just an Apple, but it took an expert graphic designer to create that exact look which has resonated with millions.
Design language has changed a lot over the years. Modern art started to simplify things in the early 1900s, when the likes of Mondrian stripped everything down to the bare essentials of form, line, and color. This had a massive impact on graphic design.
As a graphic designer, think simple and remember that simple is beautiful.
02. You’re Forgetting The Client
At the other end of the spectrum from trying to impress the client too much is forgetting the client even exists.
In other words, you put your own stamp on things so much that the client’s wish vanishes.
Remember, you’re part of a team when it comes to graphic designing, and although your expertise is being relied on, you need to know how to work with clients and stick to the brief.
03. You Use Too Many Fonts
Unless you’re a typography wizard, I suggest sticking to just one (two at the absolute max) font across an entire web page or brand.
Not just that, but if you plan on working with the same brand for years, don’t get tempted to change fonts.
Look at Coca-Cola. Their font is consistent across all their branding, and it’s remained unchanged for over a hundred years. It looks vintage, but it’s timeless and, thanks to the awesome visuals of the brand, it still looks relevant. Had they changed the font, it would have jarred with their audience.
Customers like to know what they’re going to get, and consistency is very important when it comes to branding. It makes a brand look more dependable and reliable in the eyes of the consumer, and helps to build that all important trust. All a customer needs to do is think of Coca-Cola and that font and they’ll probably want another glass on the rocks.
Limiting fonts is all part of this. If you give people’s brains too much to focus on, you’re creating unpredictability. And that’s not cool.
04. You Use Too Many Colors
If you get carried away with fonts, you probably get carried away with colors, too. Coloring, though, is often iconic, and the best brands limit themselves to two colors at the most.
Coca-Cola uses red and white, The Financial Times uses salmon-pink and black, Facebook uses blue and white … You get the picture.
On the flipside, if you mess around with colors too much, you’ll struggle to create a message that resonates with the target audience. The message might be in there somewhere, but no one can see it. Worse still, you’ll create a page that is at odds with the brand’s visual identity.
Colors tell people a lot about a brand, and they’re important for making a good first impression. Not just this, but when colours are limited to just 2 or 3, they stick in people’s minds a lot easier. When we think of red and white, lots of us think about Coca-Cola or our favorite sports team.
If you’re sloshing all kinds of colors onto a web page, it’s unlikely that someone would remember it (except for it being that “horrible website with all those garish colors”.)
05. You Use Images That Are All Different Sizes
When images are the right size, websites look presentable. Source: TimeOut
Nope, you can’t get away with this one. You can stretch an image all you like, but we’ll know if it’s stretched just to fit into a page.
This might be something an intern gets away with, but if you’re a pro graphic designer who wants to be taken seriously, you have to make sure that everything fits on the page.
Sure, rearranging is time-consuming, and it can sometimes feel like you’re trying to solve a puzzle. But remember, this is your job and once everything is done and looks amazing, you’ll be damn fine.
06. You’re Not Asking The Right Questions
Communication is the bedrock of all good working relationships, especially between a client and a freelancer. It’s impossible to quantify, but communication probably accounts for around 20% of the “work” a graphic designer has to put in.
In other words, if you don’t communicate with your client, you may end up producing work they don’t even want.
When the client sends over the brief and there’s something in it you don’t understand, instead of trying to figure it out or going with your gut instinct to save time and hassle, ask the client to clarify one or two things. Even better, ask them if they’ve got time for a quick Skype call.
Failing to ask the right questions is a huge mistake that can set a project back by a few days. The good thing? It’s also an easy mistake to fix!
07. You’re Copying Current Trends
To be successful, all graphic designers must keep an eye on current trends to see what’s hot. Design language changes over the years. While Coca-Cola’s font and logo have remained largely untouched for over a century, the graphic design in their ads and latest products, such as Coke Zero, has adapted to the times, trends, and changes.
At the same time, however, you need to be wary of blatantly copying current trends. A trend is a trend, which means that it will come into fashion and then disappear. The best brands have evergreen designs that stand the test of time. Look to trends for inspiration and to help you keep your designs current, but try not to outright copy a trend just because it’s hip at the moment.
08. You’re Using Free Images Over And Over Again
Example of a generic image that doesn’t catch attention
Everyone loves a freebie. But when a freebie starts to cost us quality, it’s time to rethink our game plan.
If you’re operating on a budget, using free images makes a bit of sense. However, the amount of images that are available for free is as low as the quality. When possible, consider stretching your budget and purchasing images. Sites like Shutterstock allow you to pay a fixed fee for a certain amount of images, and they’re perfect for graphic designers like yourself.
If your budget doesn’t stretch that far, consider asking for a bigger fee from the client, or simply ask if they have already an account with a stock image site.
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09. You Avoid Raster-Based Images, Too
Sticking with images, raster-based images are a common problem among young designers in the graphic design world. However, as popular as they are, they become a nuisance when you try to blow them up or make them smaller. What you’re left with is a whole load of pixelation.
Instead, it’s a much better idea to use bigger images with higher resolution. They’ll still look crisp once you’ve enlarged or decreased them, and they’ll save you a lot of hassle.
These are 9 easily preventable mistakes that graphic designers make. Just remember that good graphic design is all about keeping things simple so that the message comes out.