7 common design mistakes you need to avoid

A design should communicate information as effectively as possible and at the same time should be appealing for your audience to look at. One mistake can cause your message to come off less strong as you intended to.

Take this year’s website of Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) for example. They change their website design every year, but last October some huge mistakes were made. They placed all their content at an angle, without any contrast or white space. Although it sounds and looks very creative, they got a lot of backlash because it is just doesn’t work. 

It is very hard to define what a good and what a bad design is, since it’s partly objective. But there are definitely some mistakes you should look out for. In this article I will inform you about 7 common design mistakes and how you can avoid them.

1. Using words instead of visuals

Pictures speak loader than words; a phrase that is quite a cliché but also very true. One of the fastest ways to lose the attention of your audience, is when you use too much text in your design. Even though a lot of people might know this, they still tend to do short on visuals in their design. Therefore, to keep the interest of your audience and to make sure they remember what they see, use enough visuals (Visme, z.d.)

2. Too many fonts

Some designers tend to overdo the number of fonts in their design. When you are combining all sorts off fonts, they all fight for attention. As a result, your design will look unorganized and unprofessional (Visme, z.d.). To prevent this from happening, you should use a maximum of three fonts. Most of the time 2 fonts is plenty enough. Rather than using different fonts, try to vary with different font styles (Italic, bold etc.). This can make your design look interesting without it being chaotic (UXplanet, 2017).

3. Colour overkill

One of the most important decisions to make when starting on a design, is choosing the right colours. Just like with fonts, don’t overdo it. Too many colours and a poor combination of them, can be the death of your design (graphicmama, 2016). There are many different tools that can help you with combining colours, for example Adobe Color.  Just pick one colour and the tool will do the rest. 

4. No contrast 

Another common mistake for designers is not creating enough contrast. Contrast occurs when two elements on a page are different. This helps you manage your audience attention. When you want a text to stand out, make sure to use a color text that stands out from the background. Avoid using black text on white backgrounds though. It might sound like great contrast, but it can cause eye strain when your users are reading the text (medium, 2019).

5. Not enough white space

You might feel the need to fill your whole design with content, but you really shouldn’t. When you put different elements really close to each other, your audience won’t understand which element is the important one (see example). Therefore, don’t be afraid of white space. White space will give you give room to breathe and create contrast. This will help you communicate information much more effectively. Instead of seeing white space as empty space, see it as any other important element in your design (medium, 2019). 

6. Striving for complete symmetry

Some designers tend to strive for complete symmetry in their design. Symmetry is an easy way to create a neat and tidy design. It provides a sense of order and stability for your audience. So, symmetry isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can be quit boring. Therefore, I highly recommend you step away from symmetry and think outside the box. An asymmetrical design is far more interesting and shows creativity (shutterstock, 2015). 

7. Poor readability

There are two common mistakes when it comes to text. First of all, most designers tend to not pay attention to the length of their sentences. Multiple long lines can cause eye fatigue. Therefore, it is highly recommended to use between 45-75 character per line (including spaces). The second common mistake for designers is to center-align text. Too much centered text looks clumsy and sloppy. Moreover, it is harder to read for your readers because they have to work harder to find where each line begins. With short phrases or quotes you can definitely use center alignment if you feel the need, but definitely avoid center aligning larger pieces of text (shutterstock, 2015).   

Without a good design even the best, most inspiring messages will get lost in the mix. Now that you have read the 7 most common design mistakes, you know how to make your design look clean and professional. Always make sure to keep the attention of the audience and help them understand the information as easily and effectively as possible. 

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