Top seven ways to kill your design

I think there are some things that can separate the good and the bad in design. There are certain things that I see that make me want to pull out my hair and scream every time I see these things. Maybe they can help you with your next project.

Comic Sans or Papyrus font. If anything contains either of these two fonts I’m automatically turned off. I feel it’s amateur and not professional. Best to just delete these two fonts from your library.

Red text on black. It’s too hard to read. Make sure all your copy has enough contrast with the background in order to be clearly legible. If you have an older audience this is even more imperative. There’s also some folks with color blindness so make sure you’re aware of those color combinations.

Not enough white space. If you fill every inch of the paper or site I get overwhelmed. I don’t know where to start so I usually won’t start.

Improper use of dashes. There are three types of dashes you can use in copy. If you don’t know how to use them, don’t use any of them. Figure out a way around them like a comma or colon. (My quick cheat: hyphen is for words, en is for numbers and em is for setting off sentences or names on quotes)

Template business cards. If you don’t have an original brand what makes you a unique business? I’d rather you have an all white card with three lines of copy on it than a business card that I’ve seen a hundred times before. I mean it, check out business card bingo.

No consistency. This applies to both design and copy. If you have five bullets make sure you use the same spacing and they should either all have periods or not. Each page on your website should use the same header hierarchy. Your branding should be consistent on all your materials.

Pixilated images on print material. If you are going to print something, please make sure it’s print quality. I should not be able to see squares instead of a nice cohesive image.

Honorable mentions:

Using all caps to write anything more than a word. Don’t shout at people. Plus, all caps is harder to read.

Using more than three fonts / font styles on one piece. This usually results in a lack of hierarchy and professionalism.

Bad kerning (this is the space between letters). You could be saying something totally different than you wanted to.

Bolding or underlining certain words in a paragraph. It makes it harder to focus on actually reading the whole paragraph.

I hope this helps you look more professional in your designs. Later this month I have a post about how good design can change the world. Yeah! Fun stuff.