6 Tips for Avoiding Common Graphic Design Pitfalls

6 Tips for Avoiding Common Graphic Design Pitfalls


Graphic design is an incredibly important skill that most businesses and other organizations make use of in varying capacities. Being able to design clean, attractive ads, logos and art is a more difficult skill set than many give it credit for. Here are six tips for avoiding common graphic design pitfalls.

1. Make Sure You Have Access to Backup Power

Graphic design typically involves creating art and ad copy on a computer, which means you need continuous electricity and internet access for the duration of your work time and you need to remember to save your work often. However, sometimes the electricity or the wifi will be unavailable, so you need to have backups to avoid your work being lost. For example, you can access an uninterruptible power supply, generators or external batteries and chargers to ensure you have access to consistent power. You can also make sure you either have mobile devices that can be used as hotspots or are able to access public hotspots or wired internet in case you experience a wifi interruption.

2. Learn about Kerning

Kerning refers to the typographical process, either automatic or manual, of adjusting the spaces between one letter and another in a design. While it’s such a subtle aspect of graphic design, kerning is vital to ensuring a piece is easily understandable and cohesive. For the most part, kerning can be set when you open the program to automatically create even spacing, but you can kern manually if you want to create interest, increase legibility or make the design more aesthetically pleasing.

3. Get Your Work Reviewed

Graphic design work requires an editorial review of some sort, just like many other types of work, including accounting, technical writing and architectural design. Graphic design needs to be reviewed in as many dimensions as possible to ensure the final version is clean, attractive and makes sense. Make sure the design plans, including font, colors and any images you want to include approved. Then, after finishing your initial design, you can refine sizing, placement and coloration. You also need to make sure your copy is spelled correctly and is grammatical before you send your design in for approval and release.

4. Use Images Sparingly and Appropriately

Images are useful tools in the graphic designer’s toolbox, but you need to be aware of when, where and how to use them to get the maximum benefit from them. Make sure you’re aware of when to request permission to utilize copyrighted images and when you should use stock images instead. Remember that not every design needs to incorporate external images. Some of the best designs get creative with phrasing, typeface, color schemes and company logo usage. If you overuse external images, your design can look overcrowded, unprofessional and cheap.

5. Have Instructions Available at All Times

Make sure you meet with your client or manager and get all the information you need about the requested or proposed design. Try to get the design requirements in writing or record the meeting so you can reference the information later whenever you need it. Involve all relevant parties in either the brainstorming or review processes too. While you work on your design, have all information, including requirements, requests and instructions, easily accessible so you can reference them throughout the process.

6. Keep Designs Consistent

Above all, work to keep your designs consistent. Build on the styles you provide in your portfolio and refine your technique. Don’t make your designs too busy by using too many different fonts or clashing colors. Be sure to use layouts appropriately and don’t rely too much on text. Clean, consistent copy is important for ensuring your design is understandable and generates interest.

Being a graphic designer takes much work, practice and study. While it’s a creative pursuit, you need to make sure you understand the general rules, as well as the specific standards or requests set by the organization you’re working for and find ways to avoid common mistakes.