5 common graphic design mistakes

Tue 1 Dec 2020

Graphic design involves a lot more than creating visually appealing logos. The thought process behind professional branding incorporates numerous different aspects, from balancing negative space in an image to the psychology behind each colour and font choice. As a novice designer, it’s easy to overlook some of the most important steps in the design process – here are some common mistakes and how to avoid them.


  1. Misinterpreting the brief

Giving the client what they want is critical, and one of the most common errors that designers make is misinterpreting the project requirements. Although clients are responsible for explaining their needs and providing clear instructions, designers should check that they have a thorough understanding of what is expected of them before they begin. Asking for clarification (even if you have to contact the client several times before you get started) is preferable to failing to deliver the expected product.


  1. Overdesigning

Some of the most effective graphic design is incredibly simple – look at the branding used by Nike, McDonald’s and FedEx. Just because you can use multiple colours, fonts, and graphics doesn’t mean you should; designs that are too busy are distracting and can overwhelm the viewer, losing the message you are trying to convey.


  1. Improper kerning

Kerning – adjusting the spacing between letters – can be extremely visually effective when used well. However, when spacing is inconsistent it is distracting for the viewer, and when used very poorly the text may be misread completely. There are plenty of embarrassing examples online that demonstrate the importance of careful kerning in graphic design.


  1. Inconsistent branding

When designing for a business, it’s important to remember that consistency creates brand recognition. Using a style guide with a limited colour palette, 2-3 fonts, and consistent design elements (patterns, borders, graphics, etc.) is vital for ensuring the audience recognises the design materials as being part of that brand even if the logo isn’t present.


  1. Overuse of stock photography

Stock images may be a quick and affordable option, but too many can make a project look cheap and unprofessional. Depending on the license type you may also run into copyright infringement issues later on. Using your own photos or purchasing photos that guarantee exclusive usage through the license is the best way of avoiding potential legal issues and ensuring that your design looks fresh and unique.

Interested in pursuing a career in graphic design? Earning an MA in Graphic Design from Falmouth Flexible can help you stay on top of current design trends and kick start your career. 

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