Common Mistakes Designers Make
From creating promotional products to social media graphics, there are plenty of opportunities to showcase your creativity and grow your business at the same time. Whether you're attempting to blueprint a one-pager, design a new logo, or put together branded collateral for your next event promo, designing can be daunting! Don’t fret! Here are some common graphic design mistakes and how to avoid them.
Searching for the perfect typography for a project can be loads of fun and also overwhelming due to the multitudes of typefaces that are available to use. A general rule is to choose two complementary typefaces and stick with them. Any more than two looks unprofessional and you run the risk of losing what you are attempting to convey with your design piece. It’s also important to take into account the size of the project when choosing typefaces. For example, a small, less complex logo would require really only one type of typeface while an infographic would need two typefaces–one for a header typeface and another for body copy.
Too Many Colors
Similar to using too many typefaces, using too many colors can overwhelm the design and ultimately skew the message of your project. Using non-complementary colors can make the design hard to read and can also make elements in a design fight against one another. An effective brand should contain both primary and secondary colors and they should work together in harmony. For example, the logo on the right has bright colors and is hard to read, while the logo on the left contains contrasting colors that make the brand name easy to read. Depending on the message you’re trying to convey with your design, most designers typically stick to at most three colors.
In graphic design, hierarchy controls how the message of the design is absorbed by the reader. The design should always display the most important message first and then the supplementary information after. Doing this will allow the eye to flow throughout the piece versus having it jump all over the place. Hierarchy is also achieved through the use of typography, type size, color, and graphic elements. Balance is key!
One of the biggest mistakes that designers make is saving their work in the wrong file type for their medium. It’s always so frustrating to see a beautiful design saved in a format that diminishes the quality of the work. When choosing a file format, think about whether the design needs to be in vector or raster format. Vector images are made up of geometric lines and curves meaning that they can be scaled to any size while still keeping their shape. Raster images are made up of pixels. A good rule of thumb is to always make your design bigger than needed, because you can always decrease the resolution but never increase it. Another factor to consider is whether the work will be displayed online or will be printed because some file types work better for different mediums. Here are the most common file formats and when they should be used:
JPEG - JPEG images are ideal for files that contain gradients and they also allow for a smaller file size if it needs to be compressed.
PNG - PNG images are lossless, so they do not lose quality in a project. They also support transparency which is why a lot of logo files are presented in a PNG format. PNGs also tend to be larger than a JPEG.
GIF - GIF images can support animation and they can also maintain a super low file size.
PDF - PDFs contain all of the elements of a printed document as an image and you can easily view, print, or send digitally. PDFs are very versatile and usually can be interactive or static.
AI - This is a file that is created in Adobe Illustrator and can also be sent as a vector file. Many designers use AI files to send logos or other graphic elements so that the high quality remains, even through transferring the file.
Another problem that a lot of designers don’t take into account is the versatility of the design they are creating. The best graphics are multi-purpose and can be used in a variety of media and platforms. For example, when creating a logo you need to think about how the logo will look in multiple colors, not just one. If you’re creating a logo that’s mostly white, if someone tries to use it on a white sheet of paper it is going to disappear. Or if the logo is multi-colored, it may look super busy on top of an already vibrant photo. Versatility can also apply to the size or complexity of the logo. There may be some instances where a full logo will be too big to fit on a smaller medium such as a business card or a social media profile photo. That’s why a great logo will contain an icon that can be directly connected to the brand. Everyone now recognizes the swoosh brand mark without having to spell out the word “Nike.” Creating multiple versions and variations of a design at the beginning will save you a lot of time and money in the long run, because then you won’t have to redesign every time you apply it to a new project.
Graphic design can be challenging, however, avoiding these mistakes can ultimately help you on your journey from a good designer to a great designer. When in doubt, always reach out to your friendly neighborhood Parklife Communications team for help!