Every designer has design projects that weren’t up to par. Some designers try to save time and neglect something that should be done in their project. If it turns out “average” and the client is pleased, it’s easy to resort to skipping this step the next time. And very soon, this becomes a bad habit that will eventually result in lost clients. There are enough potential snags out there without getting into bad habits.
The steps learned in designing are meant to be followed. If a designer has a bad habit of bypassing any of these steps, everyone suffers. It’s just as easy to work toward good habits as it is to revert to bad ones. It’s a matter of scheduling, re-checking along the way, proofreading, and using the other steps that were learned.
Knowing what designer mistakes are is the first step. Then a designer will become aware if they start to slip into any of the following bad habits.
1. Poor Typography Choices
By making the wrong choice of typography, the entire project can fail. Some of the poor decisions are the type that is illegible, too many different types, and applying type that doesn’t go with the content. There are several ways to correct this problem like the few shown below.
- Choose only two or three fonts
- Combine fonts that are round, heights that are similar, or plain and elegant
- Combine serif and sans serif
- Be sure that every word is readable
- Match the tones of the content with the type
2. Fear of White Spaces
When a designer tries to squeeze all of the information into the space allotted, sometimes they make it too cluttered, and that hurts the entire design. It’s important to give every component plenty of white space, so they don’t run into each other. The leading must be the larger type and the body, with a smaller type, needs more space. Make sure to edit the copy to fit the space properly. Space in and around the components need to be the same size. Using a grid will help format the information and space.
3. Using raster instead of vector
Raster isn’t always wrong – but it really is! In most cases, designing the graphics used in backgrounds or logos should be done in vector format. Raster files contain millions upon millions of pixels like in digital photos. When the size changes the pixels become more and more evident. Always use the vector format in all graphic components as it will never lose the clean and crisp resolution. The reason is that it uses curves and lines when creating an image instead of pixels. Whether it’s a print, mobile, web, vector always produces the same feel and look.
4. Too much colour
It the colour palette isn’t planned or is weak, problems will exist. Lack of colour will give it a cold feeling, and it’ll seem messy and cluttered if too many are used. Hues that are oversaturated will appear to vibrate, when being viewed, and will strain the eyes. The best way to avoid this is to use two or maybe three tints and colors to get the maximum effect. Put in a neutral to get a balance and think about how the type will look on top of the colours. There needs to be enough distinction to craft a separation. It also needs to bond warmly with the message.
5. Forgetting to Kern
When a designer neglects to kern, there will be a noticeable difference between a finished project and an incomplete one. There are some combinations of letters, in all typefaces, that may need help. If the lettering is dominant in a component in any form, a little adjustment is probably needed. Kerning is when a designer adjusts the space between two letters. Some letters are too close, and some are too far apart. A manual kerning alternation fixes the problem. Look at all of the large letters in the text and adjust as called for. It will add a little finesse to the project.
6. Failure to Proofread
Typos are always a death but this especially true for designers. It’s not professional to send a “final” copy that has typos. This will never bring a client back so there should never be anything that goes out with typos. Failure to proofread properly can also be very costly. If a project has been printed with errors, the client won’t pay for it. And there’s less profit when it’s reprinted. To avoid all of this, when the project is finished, read it. Then leave it for a while. Come back and read it again, and if it’s necessary, repeat.
7. Forgot to Package
The project is finished, and it’s time to send the product to the client. It’s not enough to send just the raw text or image file. Everything must be packaged together which includes everything used in the project. That’s a complete package, and if it’s not done correctly, there could be a lot of problems for the person opening it. Things could be lost, damaged, or corrupt.
It’s simple to avoid this happening when the complete source files are packaged together in the correct manner. Adobe’s “package” wraps everything in a folder ready to send out. Or it can be done manually. Make a separate folder for fonts, graphics, video, images, and anything else that was used in the project. When sending the final design, include these folders.
There are other things designers do that may lead them to form bad habits just to save time.
- Too Much Information – Being paralysed by analysis is devoting a great deal of time mulling over a problem. Then it continues with stuffing the brain with too much data that the capability to act is lost. Think of how it feels when one overeats. The same happens in the brain when there’s too much thinking done.
Most successful people have the aptitude to know when is the time to cease collecting the data and begin acting on that information. It’s always better to act on a sound design today than to wait for a flawless design tomorrow.
- Generating and Analysing All at Once – There’s no way to put a car in reverse and first simultaneously just as a person can’t use two kinds of thinking at the same time. In both cases, the gears will strip. To generate means creating novel ideas and always looking forward. It’s also visualising and thinking of new possibilities.
Analysing means evaluating and assessing. It’s taking the ideas and picking them apart. Then, it’s putting them in separate piles of good and useful or bad and useless. The problem most people, with bad habits, is they analyse too quickly and too frequently which causes them to create less.
The goal is to continue creating additional and enhanced ideas. So, separate generating from analysing by creating a lot of ideas before evaluating their value.
- Confined by artificial limits – Everyone is a creation of their experiences, and any limitations are self-inflicted. Therefore, they are really false limitations which can become a bad habit. A designer needs to force themselves to move away from what is comfortable in order to allow the creative ideas to break through. They need to try to step out of their comfort zone and be open to whatever comes along. Today something may seem impossible but tomorrow it is achievable.
The designer skills learned today may be out of date tomorrow as the design world continues to evolve. Designers, in order to be successful, need to keep in line with these changes so they can create the best project for their clients. It’s not only formal education that’s required to become a designer but continuing to update their skills is important.
The Internet is a path to finding ways to brush up on the skills of designing. Through these websites, a designer can work on learning and improving skills as time permits. There are experts in the industry, other designers, and colleges offering paid and free options. These will help the designer remain a step ahead of other designers and create incredible projects.
One of the many websites, featuring refresher courses, is Udemy. They offer paid and free tutorials and courses. It’s a great place for a refreshment course on a subject that the designer wants to improve on. Simply click on the course of interest and a short video gives an overview. Then there’s a list of the subjects covered in the course.
Everyone knows that bad habits can ruin a career and decrease the chances of repeat business and referrals. Maybe these bad habits begin when a person first begins design school. They are trained in the software for designs and also to have the wisdom of having an eye for the designs. They’re also taught not to fall into any bad habits that can result in failure.
To break these habits, go back to basics and follow the steps that were taught in the beginning. After a project is finished, check it thoroughly while paying attention to every detail, even the small ones. Then make adjustments to guarantee its perfection. As the designer keeps following these same steps, every single time, the bad habit will be replaced with good habits.
Ben Brychta – MBA student from San Jose, CA. He is big movie classics fan and loves to share his opinion on different thing happening in the spheres of the film industry, design and lifestyle. You can contact him through his Twitter or Facebook