7 Horrible Mistakes You’re Making With Graphic Design

Graphic design is a broad field, with many possible angles of attack. Whether you’re just starting out or have been working in the industry for some time, there are always new tricks to learn and old habits to shake. Graphic design is also a collaborative field. Designers need to be able to work well with clients, other designers, photographers, and anyone else they collaborate with on projects. It can be tricky balancing your own artistic sensibilities while also catering to the client’s needs and desires. It doesn’t help that graphic design is a relatively new field; it has only recently become its own “thing” instead of being simply one part of marketing campaigns. The result? There are plenty of bad habits out there among designers of all experience levels – from newbies who have not yet learned better habits to more experienced designers who may have developed some bad habits over time.

Admittedly, there is a lot to be said for the benefits of bad habits.

You’re using stock photos in your designs

Stock photos are photos offered for free or for a very low price. They’re often used in design to illustrate concepts that would otherwise be difficult to illustrate with a photograph, like a sunset on a tropical beach. They’re also used as placeholders in designs, such as in branding materials that have yet to be designed. The problem with using stock photos in your designs is that they give your clients an unrealistic expectation of what their campaign or marketing materials should look like. Unless you’ve designed the stock photo yourself, it’s unlikely to fit the client’s branding, company culture, and desired tone and style of the materials. Instead, use design elements (e.g., typefaces and color palettes) that fit the client’s branding and desired style. You can also create your own illustrations to replace stock photos.

You have no concept of typography beyond Helvetica and Arial

Typography has a huge effect on how readable content is. It also greatly affects the aesthetic of designs. You don’t have to be a typeface expert, but you do need to have at least a basic understanding of how typefaces work and how to choose the right ones for your designs. What are the major typographic categories? What are the most common fonts in each category? How do you choose the right font for a design? You’ll want to develop a basic understanding of these topics if you want to be taken seriously as a designer. Typography is a huge part of design, and it’s something you should definitely brush up on if you’re not already familiar with it.

You’re relying on Photoshop effects for all of your design work

Photoshop is an incredibly powerful tool – there’s no doubt about that! However, relying on Photoshop’s built-in effects to create your design work is a surefire way to produce visual designs that appear to be stuck in the 1990s. While some effects are timeless (e.g., drop shadows), many of those built into the very first editions of Photoshop are not. If you’re using Photoshop effects on your design work, make sure they’re relevant to today’s design trends. Otherwise, they’ll date your work almost as soon as you’re done creating it. If you’re not sure how to create a certain look or effect, skip the effects and find another way to create your desired design. For example, learn how to use layers to create certain looks and apply them appropriately.

Your designs have nothing to do with usability or user experience

A lot of clients will want you to create the flashiest, most gorgeous designs imaginable. However, an attractive design is meaningless if it’s not also functional. If you are not familiar with the principles of user experience design, now is the time to educate yourself. You don’t have to be an expert in this field, but knowing the basics will help you create designs that are both visually appealing and usable. Are you designing a website? Make sure the site is mobile-friendly and easy to navigate. Are you designing materials for print? Make sure they’re easy to read, even when printed in black and white. These are just a few examples of how user experience design applies to most design work. Avoid making simple, visual design decisions that could have a major impact on the usability of the designs you create.

You’re not thinking about color theory or color psychology

Colors have many meanings. Some are happy, some are sad, some are romantic, and others are professional and business-like. What designs do you see that have no relation to the intended message of the design? If you’re seeing a lot of designs with no relation to the message of the design, it’s a good bet that color psychology is being overlooked. You don’t have to be an expert in color psychology, but knowing the basics will help you make better design decisions. For example, you probably don’t want to use a dark blue for a retirement party. The color blue is often used for business, so it doesn’t make sense for that type of event. Knowing the basics of color psychology will help you make better design decisions. You’ll want to learn more about color psychology to better understand how you can use color to your advantage.

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