8 Design Mistakes to Avoid | MP 72

How many different fonts should you use within your marketing materials? What is the difference between CMYK and RGB and why is this important when designing for print or digital? How can you make sure that your design is effective and conveys the message you intend?

In this podcast episode, Sam Carvalho speaks about the design mistakes to avoid.

In This Podcast


  • 8 mistakes to avoid

1. Too Many Fonts

The first mistake that stands out when looking at novice design versus professional design is the number of fonts used. It’s hard to understand the message of the piece if there are too many distracting fonts involved. Brands should pick two or three fonts maximum on any design piece.

Using a single font can also be impactful since it adds continuity and establishes your brand identity. Make sure you keep the size of the piece in mind when selecting the number of fonts as well as the amount of text. A logo, for example, can usually only support one or two fonts, however, a website can handle a bit more creativity.

Suggestion for a set of fonts for a brand:

  • Headline: curvy / serif
  • Subheading: serif / sans serif
  • Body: sans serif Brand style guide

Too wordy – communicate in imagery/only include NB text Readability! (Kerning/space between lines)

2. Using Stock Images

Stock images can be a helpful and affordable solution when you’re working on a project that requires specific images. However, using too many stock photos can make your project look cheap or unprofessional.

Many common stock photos become used over and over again, which makes it a dead giveaway when you put them in your marketing piece. Also, make sure you are properly purchasing the photos you do end up using to avoid sending out photos with a watermark or ones that are low resolution.

Check out Unsplash and Pexels

3. Not Proofreading

Make sure you are always checking over the spelling and grammar before sending a piece to print or publishing a digital piece.

To avoid making a mistake in this department, get a second pair of eyes to look through your work, or don’t look at it for a few hours / a day and then review.

4. Choosing the Wrong Colors

Similar to using too many fonts, choosing too many colors or choosing the wrong colors can also make a design ineffective. It can be distracting to use too many bold colors in one piece.

When creating a new brand, it’s important to start by creating a color palette. Each color palette you create should include both primary and secondary colors and should include contrasting colors.

Check out: htmlcolorcodes.com and color.adobe.com

5. Using Incorrect Hierarchy

In graphic design, hierarchy is how a piece is organized so the audience knows which elements are most important and how their eyes should move over the piece.

Hierarchy is the top design technique that ranks the importance of your information. Whenever you’re creating a new design, there is typically one general message you want to communicate.

ow you create hierarchy in your design will dictate what your audience takes away from your design. Hierarchy doesn’t just have to be font size or placement, you can also create effective hierarchy through colors, graphic elements, or the weight of the fonts you use.

6. Designing for the Wrong Medium

The first decision you should make when you are starting on artwork is where it will be appearing. Whether it will be used on social media or printed in a magazine can make a big difference in how you should be creating your design.

  • Print design: use CMYK color mode (cyan, magenta, yellow, and key/black), which is used for four-color process printing.
  • Digital screen design: create it in RGB (red, green, blue) – the colors of light screens use to display a range of colors.

7. Saving in the Wrong Format

When choosing a file format for your design image, think about where or not the image needs to be in raster or vector format.

  • Raster images are made up of pixels
  • Vectors are made up of geometric lines and curves, which means they can be scaled to any size while keeping their shape. You may also hear vector files referred to as AI files because vector artwork is typically created in Adobe Illustrator.

If you are worried about your design getting pixelated, a good rule of thumb is to make your design bigger than it needs to be. You can always reduce the resolution, but you can never increase it. Also, consider if the design will be printed or displayed online’ all of these things will make it easier to choose the perfect way to save work.

The three most common file types for web-based images are JPG, PNG, and GIF:

  • JPG: JPG images are ideal for files with gradients and allow for a smaller file size through compression
  • PNG: PNG images are lossless, so they do not lose quality during editing, support transparency, and tend to be larger than a JPG
  • GIF: GIF images can maintain a low file size while being able to support animation

8. Not Creating a Versatile Design

The best graphics are evergreen and multi-purpose! If you’re creating a logo, think about how it will look on promotional products, how it will look in one color or full color, and how it can be simplified to ensure you’re able to use specific design processes with your logo.

This will help establish your brand consistency and save you time and money from having to redesign artwork for new projects down the road.

Useful Links:

Meet Sam Carvalho

Samantha Carvalho DesignSam Carvalho is a graphic designer living in Cape Town, South Africa, with over five years of experience in both design and marketing, with a special interest and experience in the start-up environment.

She has been working with Practice of the Practice since 2016 and has helped over 70 therapist entrepreneurs take their practices to the next level by enhancing their visual branding. She loves working with a variety of clients on design-intensive tasks and is always up for a challenge!

Follow Sam on Instagram to see some of her work. To work with Sam, head on over to www.practiceofthepractice.com/branding.

Thanks For Listening!

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