design mistakes to avoid

Graphic Arts Degree Students: Don’t Make These 8 Design Mistakes in 2021

Updated By Staff Writer on December 2, 2020

Graphic designers enjoy the thrill of crafting iconic images and brands. They have the important task of sending the right message to customers with just a few words and design elements. While it’s a creative and exciting job, graphic designers also have a weight on their shoulders. Just one mistake could be the difference between a smash success and an epic failure, so it’s vital for graphic designers to be on their A-game.

If you’re a new graphic designer or aspiring graphic arts degree student, keep reading to learn seven key graphic design mistakes to avoid in 2021.

1. Not Balancing Text with Visuals

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. But with the right topography, words can be incredibly impactful. The goal is to strike a balance between visuals and typography, without allowing the design to become overly cluttered. Customers will be making a judgment about the company in a split second. It’s best to let a well balanced, eye-catching image, with a few well-chosen words set in the perfect font, do the talking.

2. Overcrowding Your Design

Negative space is a significant part of any well-designed graphic. Negative space is defined as the open areas around design elements. This can take the form of empty or negative space, or the uncluttered portion of a photograph. It may sound unimportant, but negative space makes a design easier to comprehend and will lead the eye to the point of focus. Layouts without enough white space will feel crowded, unsettling, or unappealing, even if the designer doesn’t know quite why.

3. The Wrong Typeface

A typeface (sometimes used interchangeably with the word “font”) is a crucial element of award-winning design. Typeface styles come and go, so graphic arts degree students need to stay on top of trends and choose styles that appeal to their client’s audience. For instance, typefaces like Comic Sans are considered to be the laughingstock of the graphic design world, while Helvetica will be a classic choice for years to come.

4. Kerning or Tracking

Typefaces can be altered to space letters closer together or farther apart. And while the average person wouldn’t give a second thought to letter spacing, it can really affect how a graphic turns out. Choose appropriate kerning to ensure letters are spaced with enough breathing room, but not so far apart that the word looks stretched.

5. Bad Color Combinations

Colors play a big role in determining subconscious thought. Although clear-cut associations with color are difficult to make, studies show* that colors play a substantial role in purchases and branding. Color choices have a huge effect on creating a brand’s desired personality (think of Apple’s use of white). Designers can use the color wheel to choose complementary colors or other pleasing combinations that work for their design. The color wheel is an amazing tool for any type of designer, whether it be interior design, fashion design, or graphic arts.

6. Designing Illegible Graphics

Though graphic design is an artistic endeavor, the ultimate goal is to convey a message on behalf of a client. If the design on something like an infographic is difficult to read, that message will get lost in translation. Make sure a graphic has proper contrast, spacing, and font size to make the words easy to read.

7. Visual Hierarchy

Pay attention to visual hierarchy. In most designs, one element or idea will be the most important to convey. You will want to give special attention to this element. To assure that the intended meaning gets across, you will need to make sure the primary element is emphasized in a way that causes the eye to be naturally drawn toward it. Graphic arts degree students should learn to take this into consideration even when an image doesn’t have any text, since photos or icons can also fall flat if they don’t communicate the primary message effectively.

8. Forgetting the Medium

Even the most striking graphic designs won’t be a success if they aren’t appropriate for the medium. Graphics can be used for websites, banners, promotional products, and much more. So designers need to consider where and how the image will be displayed, as well as the type of material it will be displayed on before getting too far into their design process. When a designer fails to take this into consideration, the final design can end up looking blurry or pixelated when displayed on the web, or getting partially cropped, miscentered, or incorrectly colored when printed. Things to consider at the early stages of the design include: paying proper attention to resolution, scale, color model (RGB, CMYK, Pantone, etc.), the printing constraints of your printing house, or other elements that may get in the way of the final design.

Enroll in a Graphic Arts Degree Program Today

If you’re ready to take your graphic design skills to the next level, enroll in a graphic arts degree program today. Independence University offers career-focused graphic arts programs structured to help you hit the ground running after graduation. Take classes online, on your own time. Learn more about the program by requesting more information today.

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