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Design fails: common design mistakes to avoid

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Ever picked up a paint roller, ready to give your living room walls a fresh coat of “Mountain Mist”, only to realize you’ve transformed your space into a scene straight out of an alien invasion movie?

Picture this: It’s a breezy Saturday morning, and you’re ecstatic about your DIY home office makeover. You’ve got your Pinterest board loaded with inspo, your toolkit is primed, and your enthusiasm is off the charts.

Armed with nothing but dreams, a tape measure, and a steely determination, you embark on what is about to become the redecorating adventure of a lifetime.

You then choose the boldest shade of crimson you’ve ever seen, thinking it’ll infuse your workspace with energy and creativity. You confidently start slapping the paint on, only to end up with a room that could double as a low-budget vampire flick set.

Yep, you’ve officially crossed over to the crimson nightmare dimension.

Perhaps you’ve experienced a similar scenario when creating something for your business—a social media post, a brave attempt at your logo, or a promotional poster. If you’ve ever found yourself in a “what were you thinking?” design predicament, fear not.

You’re not alone in this artful journey of trial and error. We’ve all been there, wondering how in the world you went from “I’ve got this” to “What have I done?”.

But cheer up, because I’ll take you on a journey through some of the most cringe-worthy and epic design fails, ensuring you steer clear of these common pitfalls.

Why design is a big deal

A massive misconception is that design is about making things look pretty.

But design is a powerful tool that can shape how people see a business, engage with it, and ultimately impact its success.

However, not all designs are created equal. Sometimes, some creative outputs just don’t hit the mark, and that can have some negative consequences for your business.

Design failures can impact your business, from small hiccups to major disasters.

Here are a couple of ways these failures can hit a company where it hurts:

Decline in user experience

If a design is confusing, overwhelming, or just plain hard to navigate, users will get frustrated. It happens in product design as well—if they’re on a website or an app, they will most likely exit.

Especially nowadays, where user experience rules, you can’t afford to overlook the importance of a solid and effective design.

Loss of credibility

When a design fails to connect with its intended audience, it will reflect poorly on your business. Customers might question your professionalism, reliability, and trustworthiness if you can’t get their design game on point.

Negative word-of-mouth

I never forget to leave a negative review when I get a poor service, but I rarely remember to leave a positive one when things go well. Can you relate?

Why does this happen?

When users have a poor experience with bad design, they are likely to talk about it with others. This can lead to negative word-of-mouth and potentially harm your reputation.

People trust recommendations from friends, family, and peers. If they hear negative feedback about your design, they are less likely to engage with your business.

Famous design fails

They say experience is the best teacher. Here’s something better: Others’ experiences are better teachers. You don’t have to commit the same design mistakes as these famous ones:

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The 2012 London Olympic logo

Oh boy, this one didn’t hit the mark. The abstract and confusing design left people scratching their heads. It lacked clarity and visual appeal and even sparked some controversy. Oops!

Gap’s logo redesign

In 2010, Gap decided to switch things up with a new logo. Well, let’s just say it didn’t go as planned. The design was plain, generic, and strayed away from their iconic identity. They quickly realized their mistake and went back to the original logo. Smart move!

Microsoft’s Clippy

Ah, who could forget Clippy, every millennial’s frenemy? The overly enthusiastic animated assistant in Microsoft Office seemed like a good idea at the time. But users found it intrusive and downright annoying. Eventually, Clippy had to say goodbye.

These examples show us just how crucial it is to carefully consider your design and understand your audience. Let’s dive into the most common design mistakes you need to avoid. You’ll also learn practical insights on how to steer clear of them in your own business.

Typography mistakes

Typography is like the unsung hero of design. It sets the vibe, conveys important information, and makes your content a breeze to read. But beware! Typography mistakes can swiftly turn your well-designed project into a hot mess.

Mistake #1: Too many fonts

Using a gazillion fonts may seem fun, but it’s a recipe for visual chaos. Readers won’t know where to look! Stick to two or three fonts that play well together. This way, your design stays consistent and legible.

Mistake #2: Mismatched fonts

Fonts should be besties, not frenemies. Using different fonts in your design can create an incoherent appearance that is far from pleasing. Take your time. Experiment with combos, and choose fonts that represent your design’s tone and message.

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Mistake #3: Size Matters

Don’t mess with font size and spacing! Tiny text strains the eyes, and cramped spacing is a big no-no. On the flip side, giant fonts and wide gaps scream “unprofessional.” Find that sweet spot where legibility meets aesthetics, and your typography will shine.

Color choice fails

Color is a crucial element that can really make or break your design game. Here are some common color choice errors to avoid:

Mistake # 1: Overwhelming palette

Too many colors can be overwhelming and distract people from your message. Keep it simple and use a limited palette that represents your brand well and creates a cohesive look.

Mistake # 2: Lack of contrast

Poor contrast can make your text hard to read, so make sure you have enough contrast between your text and background.

Mistake # 3: Inconsistent color messaging

Different colors have different meanings and associations, so be mindful of what you’re trying to convey. Make sure your color choices align with the message you want to send.

Mistake # 4: Lack of brand consistency

Use the same color scheme across different platforms and mediums. This will help avoid confusion and strengthen your brand identity.

Layout blunders

When it comes to design, layout plays a crucial role in how information is presented and organized. But beware: there are some blunders that can make your design choices ineffective.

Mistake # 1: Cluttered Layout

Don’t overwhelm your viewers with an overload of elements like text, images, and graphics. Too much clutter can distract from the main message and make it difficult for users to focus.

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Embrace white space and create a balanced distribution of elements for a visually appealing and easy-to-digest design.

Mistake # 2: Poor Hierarchy

Inconsistent or unclear hierarchy can confuse users and dilute the impact of your message. Use visual cues like font size, color, and positioning to guide the viewer’s attention and highlight important information.

Establish a clear visual hierarchy that aligns with your design goals and ensures effective communication.

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Mistake # 3: Neglecting Responsive Design

Make sure you are creating for different screens. People switch from mobile phones to tablets to big TV screens and then back to smartwatches. Ignoring responsive design can lead to a frustrating user experience on mobile devices, potentially driving away customers.

Test your design on various devices to ensure it remains visually appealing and functional across different platforms.

Image and graphic mishaps

Images and graphics have the power to elevate your design, but these common blunders can undermine their impact.

Mistake # 1: Using low-quality images

Nothing screams unprofessional like blurry or pixelated graphics that make your design look amateurish. Invest in high-quality images to ensure a visually pleasing design.

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Mistake # 2: Too many visual effects

While shadows, gradients, and reflections can add depth and dimension, too much of a good thing can clutter and distract. Use visual effects strategically to enhance, not overpower, your design.

Mistake # 3: Using copyrighted material without permission

Using copyrighted material without permission can lead to legal trouble and damage your reputation. Always have the necessary rights or licenses for any third-party images or graphics you use in your design.

Accessibility mistakes

UX is super important in design because it directly affects how users interact with and perceive your product or service. So, it’s crucial not to overlook it. Here are a few common UX blunders to avoid:

Mistake # 1: Complex navigation

If users can’t easily find what they’re looking for or navigate through your design, they’re likely to give up and look for alternatives. Keep your navigation intuitive, straightforward, and consistent to enhance the user experience.

Mistake # 2: Slow loading times

Today, people expect instant access to information. If your design takes forever to load, users may lose patience and leave.

Optimize your design by compressing images, minifying code, and using caching techniques. This will not only improve the user experience but also boost your search engine rankings.

Mistake # 3: Accessibility matters

Designing for inclusivity ensures that everyone, including users with disabilities, can access and understand your design.

Incorporate features like alt text for images, proper heading hierarchy, and good color contrast for users with visual impairments. By making your design accessible to a wider audience, you’ll improve the user experience and show your commitment to inclusivity.

How to steer clear of design failures in your business

Design failures can really mess things up for businesses. They can ruin your credibility and give users a bad experience.

From messed-up typography to poor color choices, layout blunders, and image disasters, there are so many ways things can go wrong. Here are four steps to take to ensure your design works:

1. Get to know your audience: Take the time to understand who your design is meant for. Dig deep and do some thorough research to uncover their preferences, needs, and expectations. This knowledge will be your North Star in making design decisions that truly resonate with your audience.

2. Don’t go solo, ask for feedback: Don’t be a lone wolf in this design journey. Share your work with others and gather their feedback. Their insights can be pure gold, helping you spot any potential design pitfalls you might have missed.

3. Embrace the power of iteration: Design is all about refining and improving. Embrace the feedback you receive and keep iterating on your design. Test out different versions, listen to user feedback, and make necessary tweaks to make your design shine even brighter.

4. Stay in the loop with design trends: Design is a fast-paced world. What worked last year may not be the best option to go with today. Keep yourself updated on the latest design trends, best practices, and emerging technologies. Staying in the loop will help you create designs that are fresh, relevant, and oh-so-appealing.

By following these strategies, you’ll be able to steer clear of design mistakes in your business and deliver visually stunning and impactful designs that will ultimately help your business grow.

By knowing these design pitfalls and taking steps to avoid them, you can save yourself from making these embarrassing mistakes. And if you want to play it safe, why not team up with the pros at Deer Designer?

Remember, investing in good design is investing in your business’s success. So don’t skimp on it!