Good graphic design balances text and images to convey a clear message. If these elements are used incorrectly or arranged in ways that don’t make sense, the message becomes muddled and the design is rendered ineffective. Avoid these five common design mistakes to ensure that you provide high-quality results for all of your clients.
Choosing the Wrong Font
Fonts have a big impact on the feeling that a design conveys and how well the copy can be seen in its natural context. The font you use for a billboard, for example, needs to be legible at much greater distances than the typeface on a website. Fonts used in blocks of text must be easy to read without causing eye strain. Using different fonts for headings and paragraphs creates balance, but varying font choice too much makes designs look chaotic. A good rule of thumb is to stick with two or three fonts that reflect the intended message.
Ignoring Negative Space
White space is just as important as the images and text in a design. It draws the eye where you want it to go and prevents the layout from looking cluttered or messy. Using white space correctly allows you to group similar images together to increase the impact of the message and keeps text from crowding out the visual components of the design. Leaving room around different elements also creates harmony between images and text, helping viewers to make connections between what’s being shown and what’s being said. It directs attention from one area of the design to another so that the message flows easily.
Using Incorrect Kerning
Proper spacing between letters, called kerning, is essential in graphic design. Some letters need more “room” around them than others to look balanced, and failing to provide this room makes the text hard to read. Letters that are too close together appear sloppy and crowded. Placing letters too far apart makes them look as though they’re floating independently of each other. Proper kerning adds just the right amount of space in every word so that all text is legible. The only time you want letter placement to be off-kilter is if it’s an intentional part of the design.
Failing to Balance Colors
Placing the wrong colors together can cause images and text to look as though they’re dancing on the page or the screen. Using too many colors leads to similar visual confusion. When choosing a palette, limit your selection to just a few shades that create enough contrast to give the design depth without being distracting. Test your fonts along with these colors to make sure that text is legible whether standing alone or sitting on top of other elements, and use color in text sparingly.
Not Proofing the Final Design
Running a project through spell check isn’t enough to catch all the potential mistakes. You need to give clients more than copy that’s free of spelling errors. Spacing and structure must also be assessed, and the entire design should be compared to the original instructions from the client. Check that all of the elements fit together to convey the right message with clarity. Getting someone else to take a look at the project helps bring to light problems you may have missed. It’s easy to overlook errors in your own work after you’ve been staring at it for hours or days.
High-quality design avoids pitfalls to get the intended message across without confusion. Be patient and pay attention to details, and you’ll deliver projects that please clients every time.