13 Common Graphic Design Mistakes To Avoid In Your Marketing

Flawless graphic design plays a crucial role in capturing attention, conveying messages effectively, and leaving a lasting impression. It is the visual language that connects individuals to brands, products, and ideas. In today’s competitive landscape, where visual content dominates digital and print platforms, professional design has become essential for businesses, organizations, and individuals to stand out. 

However, those unfamiliar with design principles may unintentionally make significant graphic design mistakes. Lack of understanding regarding color theory, typography, layout, and composition can lead to cluttered or unappealing visuals, hampering communication and diminishing credibility. 

According to a survey where 1500 small businesses were interviewed, 49% stated that graphic design was important for success. But don’t let this scare you because we’re here to help beginners avoid common graphic design pitfalls and create visually appealing and impactful designs.

Common Graphic Design Mistakes to Avoid

1. Cluttered layout 

There are many things that make a cluttered layout. Things like excessive text, and neglecting white space are some of these major design mistakes Let’s explore further why these mistakes lead to a bad design. 

A cluttered layout overwhelms the viewer, making it challenging to understand the message. It creates visual noise and hampers the communication of information. 

Similarly, cramming too much text into a design overwhelms the reader and diminishes readability. It is crucial to prioritize essential information and use concise and engaging text. 

Then there’s the neglecting of white space which leads to a lack of breathing room, causing the design to feel crowded and chaotic. 

Here is a snippet of a terrible landing page design that exemplifies the mistake of a cluttered layout:

Because of the lack of white space and the excessive amount of text featured, it’s not an easy job deciphering the contents of this landing page. As a result, whatever message they’re trying to convey cannot be properly understood. 

2. Thoughtless typography practices

Typography is quite an important design principle to consider when creating graphics. Which is why, thoughtless typography practices, such as poor kerning, improper leading, and incompatible font selection, can be detrimental to the overall design. They are serious graphic design mistakes. Let’s see why. 

Inadequate kerning, which refers to the spacing between individual characters, can make the text appear cramped or disjointed, negatively impacting readability. Similarly, improper leading which is the vertical spacing between lines of text, can result in overcrowding or excessive gaps, making the content challenging to follow. 

Additionally, choosing inappropriate fonts that clash with the overall aesthetic or fail to convey the intended message can undermine the design’s professionalism and coherence. 

Have a look at this example of thoughtless typography that in fact sends the wrong message:

You can’t help but take a second look at this advertising by Chanel. At first glance, it reads as “I love Cow” when it should read, “I love Coco” corresponding to the hashtag featured at the bottom. Some would get a confusing message that Chanel was now promoting dairy products! This is a clear example of the kind of damage that the wrong type of font can do. 

Finally, choosing outdated fonts and bad combinations of fonts can lead to unflattering graphic designs as well. 

Paying attention to these typography elements is essential to ensure a visually appealing and harmonious design that effectively communicates its purpose.

3. Using the wrong images

Images are a vital part of graphic design. And using the wrong images can have serious repercussions. These kinds of graphic design mistakes can affect the overall quality and impact of the design. 

Firstly, avoid the excessive use of flat vector images because it can result in a monotonous and generic appearance, lacking depth and visual interest. And secondly, opt to choose appropriate imagery that aligns with the intended message and style. This is crucial for capturing attention and conveying the desired emotions. 

Then comes the image resolution., Incorrect image resolutions can lead to pixelation and a loss of visual clarity, diminishing the professionalism of the design. So, it’s essential to use high-resolution images to ensure crisp and visually appealing graphics. 

Lastly, using raster images inappropriately can result in distorted or blurry visuals, undermining the overall quality of the design. Avoid using raster images for logos at all costs. Instead, stick to vector images that can be scaled to larger sizes without any pixelation issues. 

Below is an example of what happens to a raster image when you zoom in:

Here’s how a vector image will look once zoomed in:

4. Failing to design for the intended audience

Before working on a graphic design, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the audience you’re targeting. Failing to design for the intended audience can lead to ineffective communication and missed opportunities. Designing without considering the preferences, needs, and expectations of the target audience can result in a disconnect, making it difficult to resonate with them. 

Whether it’s the choice of colors, typography, imagery, or overall style, understanding the audience’s demographics, cultural background, and preferences is crucial. Ignoring this vital aspect can lead to grave graphic design mistakes which will ultimately affect engagement.

By putting the audience at the forefront of the design process, you can create relevant, relatable, and impactful visuals that truly connect with their intended viewers.

5. Straying away from your brand identity

Your brand identity is what helps you establish yourself in a particular niche. Your brand identity also helps you shine amidst the competition in that particular niche. So it’s no surprise that straying from your brand identity is one of the most significant graphic design mistakes that can undermine a company’s identity and impact.

A cohesive and recognizable brand is essential for building consumer trust and recognition. Therefore, when the graphics you create and the message they communicate vary across different materials, it confuses the audience and weakens the brand’s identity. 

This confusion can lead to a disjointed and unprofessional image, making it difficult for customers to trust you. Graphic design that’s consistent with your brand identity, on the other hand, fosters brand loyalty, reinforces brand values, and leaves a lasting impression. If you don’t already have a brand guide that helps you affirm your brand identity, this should make you understand how important it is to have one. 

6. Failing to keep up with new graphic design trends

Graphic design is an ever-evolving subject. What was once cool maybe a decade ago is now considered old-fashioned and outdated. This is why, failing to keep up with new graphic design trends is a grave mistake. Trends in design keep changing rapidly, reflecting changing aesthetics, technology, and audience preferences. Ignoring these shifts can lead to outdated and unappealing visuals that fail to captivate modern audiences.

Staying current with design trends allows you to also appear more valid and relevant. 

Not only so but embracing new trends also showcases adaptability and a forward-thinking approach, helping you remain competitive and sought after in an ever-changing industry. In fact, keeping up with recent trends can actually help you avoid graphic design mistakes. Then there are also those graphic designs that are timeless. And knowing where it’s good to try a timeless design or try a new trend is also a part of creating good designs. And it’s something that comes with exposure and practice in the field.

7. Ignoring visual hierarchy 

Visual hierarchy establishes the order of importance, guiding the viewer’s eye through the design. So, without a clear hierarchy, key information can get lost, and the message becomes muddled. Ignoring visual hierarchy can result in serious graphic design mistakes that hinder effective communication and engagement. 

This is because a lack of emphasis on critical elements leads to confusion, reducing the design’s overall impact. As a result, important calls to action may be overlooked and thus impact conversion rates. 

Here’s an example of proper visual hierarchy being maintained:

Proper visual hierarchy ensures a well-organized layout and creates a seamless flow of information. By neglecting this essential design principle, a design risks the issue of failing to achieve its intended purpose.

8. Poor color choices

Color is an important part of graphic design. It’s no wonder that poor color choices in graphic design can lead to significant mistakes that compromise the overall visual appeal and communication effectiveness. 

For instance, insufficient contrast between background and text can render the content illegible, frustrating viewers and hindering comprehension. Clashing or inappropriate color combinations may evoke unintended emotions or confuse the audience, diminishing the desired impact. 

The below design shows how poor color choices can end up annoying a user. 

Additionally, disregarding color psychology can result in missed opportunities to evoke specific feelings or associations that align with the design’s purpose. By understanding color theory and making thoughtful color decisions, designers can create harmonious and impactful visuals that resonate with their intended audience. 

9. Overuse of effects

The overuse of effects in graphic design is a common mistake. When applied excessively, effects like gradients, shadows, and glows can create a distracting composition, overwhelming the viewer. 

Moreover, an abundance of effects can make a design appear dated or unprofessional. Instead of enhancing the message, these graphic design mistakes may also draw attention away from the intended focal points. 

Have a look at this graphic where overuse of effects has made it an utter mess:

To avoid this kind of outcome when you design, we recommend exercising restraint. Some effects can excite you and you may feel like using them but always remember to use effects purposefully, ensuring they complement the design’s theme and content rather than overpowering it. Conclusively, subtle and strategic application of effects can elevate the design while maintaining its integrity and impact.

10. Lack of alignment

When there is a lack of alignment in graphic design it can severely impact the overall professionalism and cohesiveness of a visual composition. When elements are not properly aligned, the design appears haphazard and disorganized, leading to a chaotic and unpolished look. 

Here’s a good example of bad alignment practice:

As you can see from the above example, misaligned text, images, or graphics can hinder readability and create visual confusion, frustrating the audience and making it challenging to navigate through the content. To avoid this and to create a visually appealing and harmonious design, it is crucial to utilize alignment principles like grids, guides, or other alignment tools.

By following these alignment principles you can avoid the mistake of bad alignment and can achieve a polished and balanced layout that enhances the design’s impact and credibility.

11. Forgetting the medium

Different mediums, such as print, web, or social media, have distinct technical requirements and limitations. Neglecting these considerations can result in designs that don’t translate well or fail to engage the intended audience effectively. 

Additionally, incompatibility with the medium can also lead to distorted images, unreadable text, or slow-loading graphics. 

Failing to consider the gravity of why print designs and web designs need to be done using different color modes can lead to unnecessary expenses and trouble. Because there is a clear difference between the color on the screen and the color when it’s printed as you can see from the image below.

By establishing the design medium from the outset, the design can be tailored to suit its unique demands, ensuring successful and purposeful visual communication.

12. Overlooking the mobile-first  marketing approach

Most people prefer consuming content on their mobile because it’s always accessible. So, overlooking the mobile-first marketing approach is a significant graphic design mistake in today’s mobile-centric world. With a growing number of users accessing content on mobile devices, designing for larger screens first can lead to poor user experiences on smaller screens. 

Neglecting mobile optimization may result in cramped layouts, illegible text, and distorted visuals, frustrating mobile users. A mobile-first approach ensures that designs are created to adapt seamlessly across various small-screen devices, prioritizing key content and maintaining a user-friendly interface. 

Observe the example below:

By embracing mobile-first design principles, you can enhance accessibility, engagement, and user satisfaction, ultimately leading to the success of your visual communication efforts.

To achieve this, go with mobile-friendly fonts avoiding text-heavy layouts. And be double-sure about the contrast between the colors because you do not want the message to be lost even on a low brightness level. Finally, consider optimizing for dark mode for maximum impact on mobile devices. 

13. Overlooking the design size for different web platforms and print medium

Different platforms and mediums require designs to be done in certain sizes. Overlooking these design sizes is a significant mistake that can compromise the visual impact and effectiveness of a design. For example, it can lead to images that are pixelated, text that is illegible, or designs that look unprofessional. 

Adapting designs to the appropriate size for each platform or medium ensures that they are displayed optimally, enhancing the user experience and engagement.

Properly sized designs also showcase attention to detail and a commitment to delivering high-quality visuals, contributing to the success and credibility of the overall brand or message. 

A few words of encouragement

It’s not easy getting each of these right if you’re a novice. It takes a lot of practice to get these right every time. However, seasoned designers are more experienced in these matters, and finding one of them is the easiest path to ensuring a well-rounded and properly executed graphic design. 

We know that it’s not easy to test every freelance designer out there to see if they live up to your expectations. This is why we recommend testing out unlimited graphic design services. Among a host of other benefits, unlimited graphic design services offer designers who are seasoned enough to avoid these types of common graphic design mistakes. An unlimited graphic design service can provide expert assistance, feedback, and revisions, preventing and rectifying graphic design mistakes efficiently.

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