Top 10 Design Mistakes to Avoid

You've probably heard the popular quote "creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes." Or perhaps you've heard "mistakes are proof that you are trying" or "every mistake can create a beautiful solution." While there is an element of truth in each of those sayings, it's wise to be well-informed and intentional about design if you're a blogger or a business owner. Visual mistakes have the potential to make you appear unprofessional and untrustworthy to your audience. 

Today I rounded up my top 10 design mistakes that everyone should be aware of. While some of these rules have been broken and the result wasn't terrible, it's best to be educated on why these mistakes are bad and make them on purpose instead of by accident. 

Top 10 design mistakes to avoid // Elle & Company

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Mistake #1:  Comic Sans

This is the number one no-no among graphic designers. Comic Sans is never ever ever a good idea. Why? Read this entertaining article.

Mistake #2:  Too many typefaces

Using too many typefaces in a logo, website, etc. can make a design appear busy, non-cohesive,  and unprofessional. Play it safe and stick to the KISS principle on this one; settle on 2-3.

Mistake #3:  Lack of hierarchy

Hierarchy determines which items you see first in an image. Designers pay attention to hierarchy and use it to their advantage by varying the size of their fonts (titles and headers should always be more prominent than body text), using color wisely (pops of color draw attention to text and images that should stand out), and paying attention to shapes (which give a design movement and lead your eyes around the design). The use of several different fonts, colors, and shapes have the potential to mess with hierarchy, resulting in an image that is visually displeasing and complicated.

Mistake #4:  No Contrast

Contrast also helps with hierarchy. A lack of contrast can alter legibility and make an image appear washed out and undefined. A mix of both light and dark colors creates balance.

Mistake #5:  Dizzy color pairings

When objects with similar color values are placed near one another, it can sometimes have a dizzying, vibrating effect. Use contrast and be cautious of color pairings, especially when you are layering colors on top of each other.

Mistake #6:  Lack of negative space

The negative space around an object is often just as important as the object itself; it provides a cushion and a place for your eye to rest. Avoid cramming objects and text into a design and be aware of the entire composition, not just the main components. Check out these 25 clever and creative uses of negative space!

Mistake #7:  Centered paragraph text

Large amounts of text should never be center aligned. It alters legibility, making text harder and more frustrating to read. 

Mistake #8:  Failing to align objects/no grid system

Haphazardly placing objects on a page without rhyme or reason is never a good idea; it has the potential to make a design seem random and unintentional. Use a grid system and align objects to create order. 

Mistake #9:  Using display fonts as text fonts

Again, this is a legibility issue. Script, hand-drawn type, and other display fonts should be used for headers and small amounts of text. It's always a good idea to use a simple font for large groups of text.

Mistake #10:  Upside down text

It's simply hard to read. Don't do it. 

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It's your turn! What are some of your biggest design pet peeves?