When you’re starting out in your business, you don’t always have the budget to hire a designer for every graphic you need a create. Whether all your designs are DIY or you have a brand created by a designer, but need additional graphics, many entrepreneurs have had to take on some design work at some point. I always applaud those who jump in and give it a go, but I also know that sometimes you might feel like you’re a bit in over your head.
In order to ensure your designs are polished and professional, I’ve put together a list of mistakes I see often by DIYers and some notes to easily improve your graphics. Let’s dive right in!
1| Using too many fonts
I often see people creating a graphic with lots of different fonts. Too many fonts within one brand creates clutter and confusion. Likewise, using a different font every time you design something makes things inconsistent. Pick 2-3 fonts at most to use throughout your graphics. This will keep your brand cohesive and easily distinguishable.
2| Illegible fonts
Maybe you picked one or two fonts, and that’s a great first step in simplifying your design, but make sure the fonts you selected are easy to read. I see a lot of illegible fonts, particularly when people try to use a handwritten typeface or a script. That font might be nice of short headlines, but not necessarily for a full paragraph. Make sure you pick a font that’s easy to read (particularly if there’s going to be a lot of it or if it’s used quite small).
3| Overly tight spacing
Designer’s love whitespace (areas of empty space to keep design clean and simple). I often see social media graphics where there’s next to no space along the edges. Bringing your type in a bit will make things feel less “tense” and crammed. Often less is best!
4| Inconsistent colors
It’s helpful to pick a color palette to work with when creating graphics for your brand. Color is just one of the elements that makes a visual brand recognizable, but it’s one of the most noticeable. To be clear, this does not mean that you use all your colors in every graphic, but that you have a set of color to choose from when working on design. Take a look at my past post if you need help selecting your brand colors.
5| Low resolution or poorly scaled images
If your image is out of focus or you have to enlarge it by a considerable amount where it becomes blurry, it might be best to try to find something else. It’s better to have a higher quality photo to keep your design looking polished. Likewise, you don’t want to stretch or “squish” (I’m sooo technical, lol) the image by making it disproportionately taller or wider than the original. To help with scaling, hold the SHIFT key when enlarging or reducing an image, this will retain the original proportions.
6| Trying all the trends
There’s such a thing as over-designing your graphics. You don’t have to add all the effects and gimmicks that are available. Try one or two if that. Again, simplicity is key, especially if you’re not a designer by trade.
7| There’s no “hero”
No, I don’t mean a crime-fighting superhero, but there should be an element that is more prominent than the rest. When everything has equal weight/importance, it’s hard to know what to focus on first. Is your headline the hero? Make the auxiliary graphics slightly smaller. Are you featuring a product? Make that larger than the supporting text. You get the idea.
These tips should help give your graphics that extra oomph they need to look professionally designed. As you work on any new graphics, keep these rules in mind and let me know if you find they improved your visual.