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Design & Printing

THE MOST COMMON MISTAKES MADE BY NON-DESIGNERS

When everyone starts creating their own designs, the web becomes inundated with these poor visuals that not only annoy professional graphic designers, but also turn off viewers with enough design literacy to tell the difference between a good design and a bad one.

One of the fastest ways to turn your audience off is to include too much text in a piece of communication that is supposed to be primarily visual. Non-designers also have a tendency to overdo it by combining too many fonts. This tends to give the design a disorganized and unprofessional look. The single most important design decisions you will make in the creation of your project is your choice of color combinations. Many times, a project with good communicative potential can go awry if the right colors are not chosen. A sure sign of an amateur designer is the lack of white space (or negative space) in a visual design. But instead of looking at white space as empty space, consider it like any other important element of design.

Another common problem is not using contrast effectively within a design. Not knowing how to use contrast effectively can mean the difference between an effective design and an ineffective one. An important principle of graphic design is visual hierarchy. It communicates to the viewer the importance of each element in relation to the rest. The goal of a good design is not just to be aesthetically pleasing, but to effectively communicate a message. In line with this, text should not only fulfill design goals, but also be easy to read. Knowing how to pair fonts is another crucial skill a non-designer should strive to learn. Like all other design elements, correctly paired fonts communicate a message all on their own.

Non-designers often make the mistake of using raster images instead of vectors. While the former is made up of pixels and become blurry when enlarged, the latter is made up of geometric lines and curves, so they can be scaled to any size and still appear crisp. If you are worried about your design getting pixelated, a good rule of thumb is to make your design bigger than it needs to be. If you start at a high resolution and scale down, the images will still be crisp. You can always reduce resolution, but you can never increase it.

Another important factor which is often overlooked is the medium in which your design will appear. Whether it will it be published online, in a book or a magazine can make a big difference in the way you go about creating your design. For example, if your artwork will appear in a bound book, you must account for the space between the two pages, which is called a gutter. Before you lay out your ideas, make sure to avoid placing any important design elements over this space since they will get lost in the binding process. Also, if you need to print your design be sure to change to CMYK color mode, not RGB, which is the color mode for projects displayed on mobile devices and computer screens.

Although it is advisable to look for inspiration in others’ creations, it is definitely not okay to copy someone else’s work and pass it off as your own. This will not only hurt your credibility in the end, it will also limit the reach and impact of your message.

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