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.