Graphic Design Mistakes

While I was watching the NATS game last night (Goooo NATS!), I came across this article on Digital Synopsis that I thought, "I have to share this!". This article talks (and shows some great examples) about many common design mistakes that I come across often with provided artwork. I find it necessary to address this again, like I did in my "The Importance of a Graphic Designer" blog last year... Some people have an eye for things, that's true.... but formal training for the specific medium you are designing for is invaluable.

Here are my thoughts on the 19 mistakes addressed in the article.

1) Using words instead of visuals.

You know the saying, "a picture speaks a thousand words", right? Sometimes a visual does a better job of painting the full picture than an overload of words used to describe something that can best, simply, be shown.

2) Poor readability (long lines of text)

This is going to tie into inadequate use of white space and overall composition balance. You never want to have more than 50-60 characters per line. You'll have to adjust spacing and font size, or column size and justification to establish good flow. Viewers don't want to have to move their head the length of a football field to read your message.

3) Too many fonts

And this is a big one and a pet peeve of mine. In all compositions, you never want to use more than 3 fonts. You can use different variations of a primary font to establish hierarchy (ie, a bold version for headers or an italicized version for emphasis). To understand this, you have to have a good grasp on typography and the vibe that different fonts give off. San serif fonts are less formal and more modern than traditional fonts with serifs. Some script can be incredibly formal (and hard to read) while some script can be exceptionally more playful. Fonts need to be chosen based on the overall message and be consistent with branding. This is going to tie into many of the next broken rules, but especially #11 and #12.

4) Bad Kerning (the space between letters in a word)

Novice designers may be guilty of not paying close enough attention to how a lower case t looks next to a lower case i in some fonts and will need to be adjusted in order for the letter to appear properly. Kerning can be adjusted to balance space on lines (especially if you are justifying on both sides).