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7 Graphic Design Mistakes You Should Avoid.

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If you’re a business owner looking to grow in 2020, it’s time to take graphic design seriously.

Graphic design is an essential part of using web design and digital marketing to leverage your business’s online presence.

Humans are a visual species – if we like what we’ll see, we’ll remember it. By investing in your business’s branding and pushing it forward with your marketing, you’ll become more recognised by more people.

But sometimes businesses get graphic design wrong. Just like branding mistakes, failing with graphic design can have a massive impact on how your business is perceived, respected, and remembered online.

As a business owner, it pays to know what can and does go wrong with graphic design. It’ll help you engage the right designer for your project and make sure your project ticks all the right boxes.

We’ll explain the 8 most significant graphic design mistakes to avoid, so you can approach graphic design with more confidence.

7 Graphic Design Mistakes You Should Avoid

  1. Forgetting about the phones
  2. Ignoring design trends
  3. Too many ideas
  4. Not considering kerning
  5. Spelling & grammar
  6. Using bland images
  7. Designing for yourself

Forgetting About The Phones

It seems like this would be impossible when they are everywhere. You're probably reading this on your phone right now!

But a common graphic design mistake is assuming people will view the design on their desktop because it was created on a desktop computer.

Let’s say you use a graphic designer to create a digital brochure or an infographic. They send you an email with the result – and it looks great! So you go ahead and post it on your website.

But most of your website visitors are on their smartphones. When they click on the infographic, it doesn’t load properly and it doesn’t fit their phone screen. You’ve just lost a precious opportunity to make a good impression on a potential customer!

A professional graphic designer will eliminate the possibility of this happening by:

  • Adapting one design for different screens: desktop, smartphone, and tablet
  • Using a responsive design toon that automatically adapts a design to different screens
  • Performing tests pre-publishing to make sure the design looks great on different screens

Ignoring Design Trends

Not everyone has to be stylish. We don’t have to keep up with the latest fashion or buy the latest iPhone. But graphic designers are obligated to stay on the pulse of the latest design trends. Because… it’s their job :)

In 2020, these graphic design trends are all the rage:

  • Pastel colour schemes
  • Simple fonts
  • Minimalism

Which is vastly different from the use of neon, bold fonts, and contrasting colours used in the 90s and early 2000s. Sure, retro graphic design can be cool if done thoughtfully – flared jeans are back in fashion, after all.

But if your business starts using old meme formats or outdated graphic design, customers won’t take you seriously. A classic graphic design mistake is to be too out-the-gate with your colour scheme or use of animations, so you end up looking like you’re trying too hard to be different.

If you’re engaging with a new graphic designer, be sure to for a portfolio to see if they’re on-trend. See if they’ve worked for your industry before, as that will be a telltale sign that they understand what you’re looking for.

Too Many Ideas

Creative people have active minds. New ideas, directions, and inspiration can hit at any moment. But that isn’t a sufficient reason for your graphic designer to ignore your brand guidelines and create content that looks vastly different every week or month.

Experienced graphic designers have mastered the art of harnessing their creativity without going overboard. It’s about applying a creative brain to a set of brand guidelines, which leads to content that helps a business improve their marketing and be more recognisable online.

To avoid scenarios where your graphic designer goes off-the-wall with content, or your team comes up with contrasting ideas, you should invest in creating thorough and detailed brand guidelines for your business.

Brand guidelines are a handbook of specific requirements for any content your business puts out there. It covers big things like:

  • Customer person
  • Business goals
  • Service information
  • Colour scheme
  • Logo

To small yet important details like:

  • Font size
  • Spacing
  • Words to use
  • Words to avoid

Using a signature colour can increase your brand recognition by 80% If you’re using graphic design to be more recognisable to customers, consistency is key. So use brand guidelines to rein in your creative graphic designer.

Forgetting About Kerning

Put simply, kerning is the spacing between letters. Sounds pedantic, but when you see something like this:


You’ll understand just how important it is.

Sometimes, the automatic spacing settings between words and letters look fine. But when a graphic designer is creating a logo, sign, or email marketing template, they might need to use custom spacing.

To avoid the kerning issue, make sure designs are ‘checked over’ by more than one person before publishing.

Spelling & Grammar

This one might sound amateur, the best of us misspell things sometimes (except our content writers).

Spelling and grammar mistakes are bound to crop up if your current source of graphic design is someone in the office with Adobe skills and spare time – but they can also happen if you don’t carefully proofread your graphic designer’s work.

Graphic designers aren't proofreaders or editors; they are visionaries. They get their jollies by creating visually compelling images that lend beauty where there was none.

But… professional graphic designers should take steps to make sure this doesn’t happen. It’s a graphic design mistake that makes them look amateur and, frankly, not that bright.

Here’s how you can avoid spelling and grammar mistakes:

  • Use a spelling tool like Grammarly and use it to check all content that will be in your graphic design piece
  • Make sure a design is thoroughly checked by more than one person before it’s published

After weeks or months of working on a project, it can be really easy to overlook a small error. One lone "ER" left in the pamphlet's margin circulated to 400 people turns one small error into you looking very unprofessional.

This is when it’s worth investing in a professional graphic design agency instead of a freelance designer. They’ll have robust internal processes and a team of professional designers who will make sure simple yet critical mistakes like this never happen.

Using Stock Images

Stock images can be very useful and, most importantly, cost-effective.

Let’s say you’re a construction company and want to create a brochure about sustainability. You want to portray the message that your company cares about the environment, but your office is in the city and the only green space around you is a children’s playground down the road. Taking photos of your garden won’t cut it either.

To make your brochure look professional and relevant, your graphic designer will use stock imagery of fields or mountains or rivers to bring the content to life.

In this scenario, where images are used to help you achieve a certain mood, stock imagery is very valuable.

But you shouldn’t lean on stock imagery when professional on-brand photography would be more appropriate – this is a tragic graphic design mistake. When a certain piece of marketing collateral requires a photo with people in it, on an About page or a company values document, for example, stock imagery will make you look unprofessional.

A common graphic design mistake is using stock imagery in a scenario where professional photography would be more appropriate. If you do this, potential customers will get the impression that your company is low-quality – even untrustworthy.

Having professional photography and using it in your collateral will help you:

  • Build a more personal connection with potential customers
  • Give the impression that you’re a reputable company
  • Achieve a specific message or tone with your collateral

To upgrade your graphic design, it’s worth investing in a graphic design agency that can provide professional photography. This means you won’t always be leaning on stock imagery, and your marketing collateral will make a more powerful impact.

Designing For Your Own Tastes

Similar to web design, if you approach graphic design with your own preferences in mind, you might miss the mark with your target audience.

It’s an easy graphic design mistake to make – you paid for graphic design services, so you should like the result. But all decisions must be made with the target audience’s tastes and preferences in mind.

Let’s say you’re a wealth manager providing financial planning services to retirees. You prefer a modern, cutting-edge design that no one else has seen before. But, your customers are more responsive to safe, conservative design that makes them feel secure.

You might not like it, but sticking to the good old fashioned Arial or Times New Roman might not inspire you, but it’ll make a good impression with your customers and keep them coming back.

To avoid this mistake in the future, you should always ask your customers for feedback and insights into their tastes and preferences.

Conclusion: Invest In High-Quality Graphic Design

Scaling up your graphic design efforts is a powerful way to increase brand awareness and stand out against your competitors.

With a full-scale graphic design agency that understands your business goals, anything is possible.

At Phiranno Designs, we take time to understand our clients and the vision for their company.

From brochures to logos, to full-scale brand revamps, we can help you take your business further. Give us a call.

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