Learn the Most Common Design Mistakes by Non Designers

I want to talk to you about the most common design mistakes made by non-designers. I’m going to tell you 10 of them. One, avoid using words instead of visuals. 

1. One of the most common mistakes is that amateurs and non-designers use too many words, too much text in their design. This might be their slide, it might be their infographic, presentation and so on. So what you instead want to do is to stick with visual cues and just the essential elements. So reduce the amount of content and supplement that with visual cues. That way, the user can focus on what you are trying to communicate to them. 

2. poor readability. Now with poor readability, one of the other mistakes is too much text. Too many lines of text and also the user is basically filling out their page. If you look here at the bottom example, 50 to 60 characters per line is what you want to shoot for, think of it as approximately 2 or 3 tweets put together. And keep your paragraphs very short. 

3. mismatching fonts. Now I’m gonna be talking a lot about fonts, font pairing. I’m actually gonna be doing specific videos on those but one of the problems is that, there are too many fonts used and, in this case, three different fonts are applied and they really don’t coordinate with each other. Actually makes the design look busier and doesn’t look very professional. What you want to do instead:

One is to stick with 2 or 3 fonts maximum. If you need to do a variation, do a variation of the font. Maybe in Italic or Bold and that allows you to Use different weights, allows you to actually achieve balance and yet variation in your design. 

4. not choosing the right colors. Colors are a very big deal in design, be it through the selection of colors or the combinations. In this case, if you look at the example, somebody gave: it seems like a child used 3 or 4 different colored crayons and just basically had at it and that’s what it looks like. And that’s the problem with non-designers and amateurs is that they have a lot of fonts, they have a lot of colors and their disposal and they feel like they can just mix and match everything. 

There are actually a few basic principles to follow in terms of colors. 

What you really want to do is to use colors that actually aid and improve the readability of the content and to grab the user’s eye and don’t actually inundate you with it. And also you want to have the right amount of contrast through the colors that you use. 

So the example below you have 3 different colors 

and also if you look at it, there’s the orange, the gray with the white, so you actually have a nice balance together. is lack of negative space. So in terms of negative space, I want you to think about your Let’s say your living room. You have your TV and then you have your couch, you might have a coffee table. You have this empty space. You don’t have every object filling everything. 

And so the same principle should be applied to your designs. And in the example above, what the individual has done is to just completely occupy that area with something. Free space, negative space is actually a great thing in design. So in the example below, what you see is free space, negative space and the concentration is on the middle. 

One of the great examples is Google’s home page. It’s about the search and so the component that’s there is the search bar and so you don’t have to look around for it. 

5. placing elements arbitrarily. Now, not aligning elements is a big deal as well in design. So, if you look at the two examples: the one above, there’s really no purpose and direction Things are just spaced apart. In the example below, you have the content that is left justified and so there’s a certain order and a balance. 

That’s what you want to shoot for. Failing to create contrast. So that’s another element that you want to concentrate on. It’s a mistake made often by non-designers. You have a light text, your foreground over your background. And if you look at the example below, what’s happening is you have a dark text or a white background. 

And so you’ve actually achieved a good balance of contrast. So you want to basically use colors that are contrasting shades and levels of saturation. So in this case, if you look at it, you have a light gray, you have a navy blue and it actually goes along with the brighter orange. 

6. not scaling elements properly. And in this case, one of the mistakes that I see made often by non-designers and amateurs is that they keep everything the same size. They actually don’t take advantage of the tools at their disposal to scale things.

And when you scale things, you want to actually emphasize. Larger elements are the emphasis or the focal points. So if you look at the word “dramatic” and the word “effect,” primarily the word dramatic is the first thing that you see. 

Through scaling, you can actually achieve a certain focal point to catch your audience’s attention Number 9 is hard to read text. So this actually goes with the example that I mentioned before. Another mistake is the contrast. Again, you have text, that’s kind of blue, the image behind it, and it’s very hard to read the text. 

And so that’s definitely a no-no, and one more common mistake that I see made often But if you look at the two examples and compare them, the one below, we actually have a nice contrast. We have light text, white over a darker image and so it’s very easy to actually read and focus on the text that’s been shown to you. Just a few more to go. 

7. inappropriate font combinations. So if you look at the example here, you have a rustic image and at the forefront, you have a font and the colors look like they should be on the box of a Barbie doll. And they don’t really correlate with the image behind them. Now, look at this one. In the example here, the image is actually driving the usage of the font. 

So the fonts and the image behind it, they’re in perfect harmony. This is what you always want to shoot for. Think about when you’re selecting fonts, think about the environment and what you’re trying to achieve, The message and also the surrounding area that it’s going to be on. 

7. inadequate space between lines. So this one again, you have the problem with leading. The words “problem with” are stuck together and then you have the word “leading” farther down. It’s okay to have line breaks but the line breaks should have a purpose. For example, In the case you have a short paragraph and a header. So there’s a little bit of separation between them and that’s an okay thing to do. Using raster images is 

8. again this is a common one. So images in general are bit maps. And what that means is that there’s pixelation in them. If you take images and if you scale them up, they will become pixelated such as the example here. And it’s okay to scale them down but never

scale them up. That’s a big tip I can provide to non-designers. And also you want to stick to using vector shapes and text. 

So one of the good things is, these days visual tools such as PowerPoint, Prezi, even our tool Visme, all the text, the shapes are actually vectorized. So you can stretch them and size them as big as you want and as small as you want and you will never lose the resolution. So you want to use them as much as possible and then when you do actually bring in images try to avoid sizing them down. Now, 

9. striving for complete symmetry. Here’s the thing: When you’re creating content for digital and for print for someone, you don’t have to always have perfect symmetry. You’re not creating a car that needs to be aerodynamic or a plane. 

This is digital content and/or design. And it that’s case, you want to go after harmony. You want to create balance. If you can achieve balance without making things symmetrical, it’s perfectly okay. 

10. failing to communicate effectively. So, here’s the thing: You’re creating content for your audience, that’s the whole purpose of it. So, you want to always make sure that the content you’re creating, you don’t overdo it and also, that you get the message across. 

And the example here, this is actually a mistake that I believe designers and non-designers make. I’m guilty of it myself. What we do is we use too many objects and shapes, and you’re basically trying to over-emphasize things. 

However, what you really want to do is to minimize, use the minimal principle. In this case, you have text and you have supporting, supplementing icons. And so together, they have a nice balance. 

There’s white space and everything just kind of fits and is in harmony. Last but not least is not being consistent. So consistency is key. This is about contrast, use of colors and it all comes down as well to use of fonts. 

And the example here: You’re looking at fonts and text. 

So you got good color and the use of the font. The text on the left is smeared. On the right side, the color doesn’t achieve balance with the rest. What you instead want to do is pick a font, pick a color palette and stay consistent. and to create a sense of unity and cohesiveness in your design. 

So, in the example below, you can see that the colors, the orientation, the use of the fonts – everything is balanced. And so, it’s actually taking heed of a number of the mistakes that I mentioned and it’s reversing those and so you achieve this nice, clean design below it. So those are the 10 design mistakes I want to talk to you about. 

There actually is more of them. We have a nice blog post that talks about, so there’s 4 more that I did not cover here. I’m going to put the link below. Go ahead and take a look at it. And again, I promise you, if you put a few of these into work (and it doesn’t matter what type of content you want to create. 

Perhaps it’s a presentation, it might be a word document, maybe it’s for print or maybe it’s for web). Regardless, if you put these principles into work, they’re very easy to follow. I promise you, the quality of your design will improve and again, at the end of the day, you want to practice.