In a world where constant exposure to information is the norm, good design is how we cut through the background noise to deliver relevant information to our target audiences. When you think about it, designers have a vital job, but even the best of us can find ourselves in common pitfalls. Let’s talk about some of the common design errors beginners make and why you should avoid them.
A common slipup that some designers do is forgetting to use hierarchy in their work. Hierarchy is the way the content is organized. It displays the essential elements at the top, more prominently, in a different color or all of the above. Hierarchy is created by using graphics, placing larger fonts above sections with smaller fonts, or using color to organize information. For instance, if you design a flyer using only one color and one font of the same size, it may lack hierarchy. Without a hierarchy, your design will not have a natural flow for the eye to follow. It will also make it difficult to tell what elements are essential and what viewers should read first. Most people will not want to read a rigid wall of text and, on a subconscious level, will likely block out whatever information you’re trying to convey through your design.
Another mistake commonly made in designing is using low contrast colors. A low contrast design has two or more colors in proximity that are close in value. Contrast is vital in making your design bold and easy to read. Low contrast might be needed in some settings, but you still want to have enough so that your design is easy to read/see. For instance, if you’re going to design a red sign, you wouldn’t use a red or orange font because it would have too low of contrast, making it difficult to read. Instead, you might use white or black font so that the design stands out more. Contrast is vital in making your design bold and easy to read. Though low contrast is sometimes necessary for some applications, you still want to have enough contrast so that your design is easy to read and absorb.
Using up all of your white space, the areas of your design that don’t contain any content, is a design flaw that’ll make whatever you’re creating challenging to read. If you are making a poster, you want to leave some areas blank; you don’t want to fill every possible corner because it makes it feel cluttered and unprofessional.
One mistake that I’ve often made early in my career is using incorrect fonts. Sometimes a font looks fabulous, but that doesn’t mean it fits the theme of the design. For instance, you might see a fancy script/handwritten/cursive font that catches your eye, but that doesn’t mean you should use it for, say, an advertisement for a law firm. Save the fancy types of fonts for things like wedding invitations or other mediums where you’re not competing for an audience’s attention.
Finally, using too many fonts can turn messy fast. Using two to three fonts in a design can establish a great hierarchy, looking professional and well put together, versus designing a logo with six fonts competing with one another. You want the fonts you use to complement each other and fit the design. You never want to overwhelm the viewer or make the design difficult to read.
To conclude, avoiding these common design errors, using too many fonts, lacking hierarchy, using too much white space, incorrect fonts, and low contrast can help you improve as a designer. Did you find these tips relatable? If so please comment on your experience that you faced as a designer early in your career.