5 Design “Don’ts”

December 2, 2022

Graphic design may seem straightforward, but there’s a LOT more to the process than meets the eye. Take it from Candor Art Director Dedra Hicks and avoid these mistakes to ensure your projects pop!

It’s easy to spot a bad design but what makes it terrible? In my 15+ years’ experience, I’ve worked hard honing my skills as a creative director and graphic designer to develop a keen eye for detail. If you want your brand to stand out in a sea of meh visuals, then avoid these five big “don’ts.  

1. DON’T Be Afraid of White Space 

It can be tempting to shove as much information as possible into a design, but white space — or the unused space between design elements —  is your best friend.  Effectively utilizing white space enhances readability, improves comprehension and helps viewers know where to look.  

At Candor, we work with clients to pare down text to the most important messages  — then let those words take center stage. 

2. DON’T Forget About Visual Hierarchy 

Visual hierarchy help a brand get their message across before the audience loses interest. This principle uses a handy little acronym, AIM, to highlight its key components: 

  • Attract — draw attention using creative elements 

  • Intrigue — reel your audience in with a clear call-to-action 

  • Message — let the body copy do the talking 

Adjusting text size and color is how designers achieve visual hierarchy. The headline might be BOLDED AND IN ALL CAPS while the subhead may be italicized for emphasis. 

Before design can begin, it’s important to prioritize message points. What is essential for the consumer to understand? What might be missed with a passing glance? Before I start any project, I sit down with our accounts team to discuss client goals, ensuring we effectively execute their vision.  

3. DON’T Use Too Many Fonts 

Varying fonts is a great way to add character to a design, evoke a certain mood, or even achieve a specific goal — but there’s a line, and you don’t want to cross it. Using more than three typefaces is distracting, can be distasteful and appears amateurish. On the flip side, using only one font means nothing stands out. For example, we often like to pair a handwritten or script-style font — bringing a pop of attention to a single word or short phrase — with a simpler body typeface. 

Low-contrast design vs. high-contrast design. Which is more intriguing? 

4. DON’T Forget About Contrast When Selecting a Color Palette 

Your color palette is as important to your brand as your logo, and using the same colors consistently contributes to brand recognition. You don’t have to be trained in color theory to create harmonious palettes — just remember to prioritize contrast!   

 Viewers can quickly lose interest in a design if it’s hard to digest, which can happen if colors are too similar. Using contrasting palettes is essential for clear communication. The goal isn’t to strain the eye — it’s to intrigue viewers and draw them in to learn more.  


5. DON’T Design for the Wrong Medium  

When I chat with Candor’s accounts team about a new client project, I first ask about the design’s end use. Will the piece be physically printed or live online? Is it a tiny banner ad, a large billboard, an e-blast or brochure? Believe it or not, color modes, dimensions, file formats and export settings are different for print and digital, so knowing these details is critical.  

Keeping expectations in line is important, too. Here’s an example scenario: a client needs a brochure designed to print in-house. We will likely avoid big swaths of color, especially around the edges of the brochure. Why? It will look clean and professional from an office printer, and a sparing use of color won’t drain expensive ink cartridges. With just a few quick folds, you have a professional brochure ready-to-go. 

Curious to learn more about our graphic design services?  Contact us here

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