Graphic Design Mistakes to Avoid

Graphic Design Mistakes to Avoid

Maggie Toth

Colors, typefaces, images, and symbols are all elements that graphic designers contemplate when creating eye-catching designs. If you don’t pay attention to details when designing your branding materials, they could look sloppy and amateur—and worse; they could damage your brand.

Whether you’re just starting or are a skilled designer, here are some design mistakes to avoid:


1.) Poor Readability

If the copy is hard to read, or worse unreadable, it can be an instant “No” for viewers. Who has the time to try and figure out what your message is? In today’s online world, people want information to be quick and effortless to absorb.

The following can affect readability:

  • Too many words – Stick to what is essential and try to communicate with visual elements. Avoid using words when you can use visual cues instead.
  • Long lines of text – Similar to a design that is packed with words, long lines of text affect readability. Keep lines 50-60 characters tops and paragraphs short.
  • Failing to proofread – Spelling errors and poor grammar can affect readability and make your design look sloppy and amateur. Avoid this at all costs: read it and reread it. And after that, have someone else give it a once-over.

Bottom line: copy and design need to work together, or it can throw everything off.


2.) Issues with typography 

The smallest aspects of type can make a big impact when laying out a webpage or logo. Each typeface, letter, character (and their arrangement) influences the design’s message. And even tiny adjustments can impact the look and mood of your material. Typefaces and the way you set type give your copy legibility. It also creates character and style. What are some problems with typography?

  • Too many fonts – Using too many fonts or mismatched fonts is a hard no. It can end up making the design look busy and unprofessional. Stick with 2-3 fonts, tops. If you want to add variation, instead of throwing in too many fonts, try using different weights of a typeface.
  • Improperly kerning type – Kerning is the modification of the space between two letters. It also refers to the process of adjusting them. And if it’s not consistent, your text can be misread. There are enough slip-ups online to show how important proper kerning is.


3.) Poor use of color

Color is a huge deal in design. It can be your most powerful design tool—if you learn to use it effectively. Color can influence viewers’ decisions, increase brand recognition, and keep people on a webpage. So, you want to avoid inappropriate color use.

  • Ineffective color combinations – Often, with a lot of different colors at their disposal, new designers feel like they should mix and match them and use as many as they can. But nothing could be further from good design. Color combinations should: aid readability, catch the viewer’s eye (not overwhelm it), and deliver the right amount of contrast.


Effective color combination starts with understanding color relationships. You can create balance and harmony through the contrast between different combinations.

4.) Lack of negative space

Think about the rooms in your house: do you have objects covering every square foot of space? Of course not. Not only would it be overwhelming and unattractive, but it also wouldn’t be functional. The same holds for designs.

Negative space is what you leave out of your designs rather than what you add into them—the area of your design that doesn’t include any design elements. It creates hierarchy and organization in your work. Sometimes new designers feel they need to pack the design with color, text, or images. But white space gives the elements of your composition breathing room, allowing designs to stand-out.

Designs can capture attention or get no more than a passing glance. Avoiding these common design mistakes can help anyone create stunning graphics—even if you’re just a beginner.