• Design
  • 4 min

7 Common Graphic Design Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

  • Author
  • Ian Bower
  • Published
  • Dec 6, 2021
4 min

7 Common Graphic Design Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Creating graphic designs that bring attention to your website requires knowing what not to do. Here are common graphic design mistakes and how to avoid them.

Are you a business owner with some graphic design chops? If so, there are plenty of ways to prove it, from website layouts to promo products.

If you do it right, graphic design can do wonders for your bottom line. Logos, websites, and other designs play a huge role in consumers' buying decisions. You can use every element of these designs to evoke intended emotions.

By comparison, making graphic design mistakes will likely damage your prospects. For example, a cheap-looking logo is a key indicator of a company with an unprofessional approach to doing business.

Want to make sure your graphic design ideas are up to scratch? Here are seven classic design mistakes you should keep an eye out for.

1. Wrong Medium

Before you start your design project, you need to know where it will appear. Intended usage can have a big impact on the creative process.

If you're planning on printing your design, you should use the CMYK color mode. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (also known as black). All commercial printers use CMYK to print full-color images.

CMYK Color Mode

If you're creating images for websites, you're better off using the RGB color mode. A device can use its light source to create any color you need by mixing red, green, and blue. This is best known as additive mixing.

What happens if you create a design in one format and publish it in the other? In most cases, it would look completely different since the colors wouldn't translate.

2. Too Many Fonts

Ever heard of the expression, "Too many cooks in the kitchen?" Well, the same applies to using too many fonts.

This is one of the easiest ways to tell a novice design from a professional one. Amateur designers tend to use too many fonts, which dilutes the message of the art. Playing with fonts is fun, but you're best off sticking to two or three.

Oftentimes, you may get the best results by using a single font. This helps add continuity and establish your brand message. The size of the piece is key here—a smaller project like a logo can usually only support one font.

You should also pay attention to the spacing between the letters, or kerning. By adjusting the kerning, you can often make the words more legible. This helps the overall appearance of the finished product.

3. Incorrect Visual Hierarchy

In graphic design, hierarchy refers to the presentation of design elements. It lets the readers know what they need to focus on.

Your main goal here is to make it easy for the eye to navigate the design. If the reader needs to look around for key information, your hierarchy needs work. Try playing around with size, spacing, and layout.

Keep in mind that most designs should only have one message they need to communicate. Whether you're communicating a sale or a blog post, the hierarchy will dictate what the readers will take away from the design.

4. Poor Color Palette

Much like with fonts, choosing too many colors can make a design seem ineffective. The same applies to choosing the wrong colors.

In particular, using too many bold colors in your design is never a good idea. Most of the time, this makes the design vaguer and harder to read. Using contrasting colors tends to produce much better results.

This is why creating a color palette should be your first design step. Each palette should have both primary and secondary colors. While testing these colors, make sure that the fonts are legible as well.

5. Lack of Proofreading

When you don't have a dedicated graphic design team, you need to pay attention to every design element. This includes spelling and grammar.

Even if you don't think a misused comma is a big deal, many people do. If they see a common issue like that, they may just ignore the rest of the project. This is particularly obvious on leaflets and similar promo materials.

This may not seem like a common issue, but many typos survive through multiple edits. The solution: get your coworkers to look through the copy. The more eyes you have on your work, the more likely you're to catch errors.

6. Stock Images

As a general rule, there's nothing wrong with using stock images. They're helpful, affordable, and easy to find when you need them.

The issue with stock images is that they have diminishing returns. Many of these images are so popular that people instantly recognize them. If you use too many of them, your project is more likely to look cheap.

Also, make sure to properly purchase the stock images you're using. Otherwise, you're risking sending out images with a watermark on them. In some cases, the image may be in low resolution as well.

7. Wrong Format

When saving your design image, you'll need to choose its file format. You can save it as either a raster file or a vector file.

The difference is that raster images consist of pixels, whereas vectors consist of geometric curves and lines. Vector designs are often created in Adobe Illustrator. You can scale them to any size while keeping their shape.

If you want to avoid pixelization of your design, make it bigger than it needs to be. You can always reduce its resolution, but you can't increase it. When choosing how to save it, consider whether you'll need to print it or not.

Why Graphic Design Mistakes Are an Issue

Creating new artwork doesn't need to be overwhelming. If you can avoid the above graphic design mistakes, you're already halfway there!

Of course, the other solution to graphic design issues is to hire a professional. Remember: your design elements are what separates you from the competitors. If you can't do them justice, you need to find someone who can.

Looking for a professional graphic designer? If so, we have plenty of experience in designing business websites, social media graphics, and more! Click here to check out some of our work!

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  • Ian Bower
  • Ian is the owner of Graphic Rhythm as well as other businesses that revolve around design, copywriting and Amazon marketplace selling. He's an expert in communicating persuasively and loves helping business owners and digital agencies breathe life into their projects and ideas.

    He values generosity and attention to detail and strives to make sure these values are apparent in the services he provides and the businesses he owns.

    When Ian isn't working, you can find him outside hiking, camping and spending time with his wife and children

  • Ian is the owner of Graphic Rhythm as well as other businesses that revolve around design, copywriting and Amazon marketplace selling. He's an expert in communicating persuasively and loves helping business owners and digital agencies breathe life into their projects and ideas.

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