Design Basics: 10 Common Mistakes

Design Basics: 10 Common Mistakes

March 26, 2014 by

Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. Good graphic design can be quite subjective. But there are a few basic ground rules that can help improve your work. Here are 10 common design mistakes to avoid:

1. Overcrowding the Design
Churches are good at over-sharing. Including too much information can confuse your audience. Your target audience doesn’t want to read about every single thing. You should give only the most important information in order to retain your audience’s attention.

2. Using Different Fonts
You have to differentiate the headlines from body content, but don’t use too many fonts for that purpose. When you use too many fonts, it creates visual clutter and your final piece looks unprofessional.

Use a maximum of two different fonts. However, you can use different font styles such as italics and bold to highlight or distinguish the important parts of the copy. We’ve gone into more detail on fonts earlier in this series.

3. Missing Headings
Nobody likes to read large chunks of text. Break your content into small paragraphs and use headings to highlight each paragraph. It will help bring clarity to your message and help people scan through the copy. Without headlines people will often skip over important points. Bullet points are also a good way to make long sections of body copy more readable.

4. No White Space
Without white space your design will become busy and overwhelm your viewers. Readers will get tired. Create plenty of white space and maintain line spacing to offer better readability.

5. Too Many Colors
A colorful design always looks attractive, but a rainbow colored design looks garish. Stick to a predetermined color palette that works and think about using it to help create a sense of brand synergy.

6. Image Quality
You need to use high quality images in your work. You want captivating pictures and you need them to be crisp and clear. If you cheap out and use low-resolution images, especially in print, they’re going to look fuzzy and unprofessional. Your target audience will see it as a poor reflection on your church.

We talked earlier about how to choose good stock and original photography. That lesson can help, but you’ll undo those good decisions if you don’t use the proper resolution.

7. Printing Without Proofing
Any kind of error in your design is going to look unprofessional. You should thoroughly check your entire design before sending it to the printer or posting it online.

Typos and grammatical errors are especially common. Be careful when you’re typing a copywriter’s text into a design program. Time and energy spent proofreading is wasted if a designer makes a typo. Copy and paste when you can to avoid introducing errors when you type.

Also keep an eye out for other errors. Watch for things that don’t line up, headers and subheads that aren’t consistent, any copy that’s hard to read, and always double check your specifications.

8. Font Size And Background
If you make your copy difficult to read guess what happens? People won’t bother. Where possible try to place dark text against a light background. That’s easier to read than light text on a dark background.

9. Employ Color Psychology
Ever wonder why red is used in sales advertising, while calming shades of green, blue and orange are used to sell professional services like insurance? Color selection is very important. Understanding how color works and what effect it has in your audience will help you make more appropriate color selections.

10. Message Clarity
When someone looks at your brochure, they notice the headlines and images first. Make sure each headline conveys the most important message. It will help you better communicate your overall message.

Your images and headlines must convey a very clear message to the audience. Always communicate a straightforward call to action—whether it’s “contact us” or “come to church on Sunday” or “tell your friends.” Make sure the design draws the eye to a clear call to action.

What common design mistakes have you learned to avoid?

More: Check out the rest of our Design Basics series.

Post By:

Denisse Leon

Denisse Leon gets to do what she loves as the design manager of Phoenix First. When she is not learning something new or involved in new creative endeavors you can find her on Twitter @DenisseLeon.
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