Common Design Mistakes (and How To Avoid Them)

We all make mistakes. It’s part of life and its a great learning process! As with everything, common design mistakes are subjective to some degree. Here, I will try and highlight a few common design mistakes that people make, and more importantly, how to avoid them.

Fonts & Text

Fonts are essential to your design but which one should you choose? Don’t make the mistake of going for every font under the sun. It creates chaos and doesn’t sit well. Again there are exceptions, but this is the rule-of-thumb. Keep to two fonts, maybe three, and to emphasise anything, use a bold or italic version of these two or three fonts. Your design will look far classier using this rule.

design comic-sans-example

 

The Comic Sans font has gone down in history as the most despised typeface ever. Try not to use this font even if you are doing a flyer for a nursery school open day! OK, the typeface looks jokey and informal, but it will give off the wrong impression because of its notoriety and it just simply won’t do your design justice.

Something to be aware of once you have laid out the columns for your text is to avoid justifying the text to the column width. This can lead to problems with word spacing and widows (one word on the last line) and can make the page look clunky.

design justified-text

 

Centred text is generally just used for headings or short paragraphs. For large paragraphs of text you’re more often than not better off going with left or right aligned text. When dealing with a large amount of text, make sure you create 2-3 columns rather than having all the text in one line (see example below). This will make the text a lot easier to read!

HAVE SOMETHING IMPORTANT TO SAY? We’re often tempted to use CAPITAL LETTERS to emphasise the message we’re trying to get across, however this isn’t always the most effective way to do it. Capitals can be great for headlines or short sentences, but using upper case letters generally tends to make it look like you are “shouting”, so avoid using them on whole paragraphs of text.

design across-whole-page

Visual Elements & Colours

Visual elements are key for all design, whether you’re designing a flyer or a website. But a mistake that is often made is the lack of quality, professional-looking photos or icons. If you’re using photos, you must ensure that these are of the highest quality – blurry photos taking on a mobile will not create the effect you’re looking for. Although it’s always best to have your own photos, it might be worth investing in stock photos from websites like Big Stock Photo or Shutterstock if you don’t have the resources.

Images may be essential to your particular design. A great photograph or graphic can add real panache to your leaflet, brochure or website. Sometimes just one photo per page can be enough, even if that photo fills the page. Don’t feel obliged to use every photo taken relating to the project. One great photo can speak a thousand words. But be careful when overlaying text onto an image. It can be done, but you have to make sure the text is readable. Putting black text onto a fairly dark photo is a no-no.

design one-photo
It is the same with colours. Use colours that complement the other elements of your design such as logos, photos or icons, but try not to overdo it. A lack of colours could lead to a dull design, but more than 4 or 5 could end up looking cluttered. The key to an eye-catching design is to find the balance between the visuals and colours.

White Space

“White space” is a feared word amongst many. We often see that people are terrified not having enough content for their design and feel that an advert or leaflet has to have a whole dictionary contained within it. But don’t be frightened of white space, this cannot be stressed enough. White space is vital to your design as it creates a feeling of freshness and avoids overloading the viewer with information. If you use too much text, it’s hard to fit it into the constraints of the dimensions, which in turn will mean that the font has to go much smaller which may render it unreadable.

But when using white space, don’t be fooled by its name! “White space” doesn’t necessarily mean that the space is white, it just means that the space is free of text or information. The image below is a great example of use of white space. With simple, capturing copy, the designer has left the rest of the page blank – which is what makes this design work so well.

design bunoapp

 


Proof Reading

Proof reading a project is an absolute must! Get someone to share in the proof reading. A fresh pair of eyes can sometimes pick up on something you have missed. A typo in any project can be the difference in getting work or the viewer avoiding you at all costs! It looks unprofessional and sloppy.

In summary, simplicity is often the answer. Use white space wisely, get a hold of high quality images, use colours that compliment the other elements of the design, and use capturing copy that has been proof-read.

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Why Research Your Competitors?

I am a firm believer in the idea that there is enough business for everyone; you just need to go out and get it. Saying that, I don’t think businesses should forget about their competitors all together. There are lots of things you can learn from your competitors:

  • Model yourself against your biggest, most successful competitor
  • Learn how not to do business from the your worst performing competitor
  • Find out how your competitors are profiling themselves
  • Understand where you need to advertise or make an appearance to keep your place in the industry

You don’t need to be worrying about your competition to want to understand how they operate. It’s a great way to make sure you are keeping up. So how you could carry out a quick review of your main competitors?

Choose your top four competitors; look at a variety from your top local competitor to the biggest or best company in the market.

Have a look on their website considering the following:

  • How is the design and overall look of the website?
  • How are they presenting their story, ethos and USP?
  • Who are their target markets?
  • What are they writing about in their blogs?
  • What do their client reviews say?

 

Have a look at their social media platforms:

  • Which platforms are they using?
  • What is the general message and image?
  • Who are they approaching?
  • How many followers and likes have they got?

 

Have a look through local and industry magazines:

  • Are they advertising?
  • Have they placed any editorials?
  • What image are they portraying?
  • What are they promoting?

Now that you have the information, ask yourself how you and your company compare to those you consider to be your competition. What nuggets could you take and adopt to make your image and marketing better?

We hope that you found this blog post useful. Are you already monitoring your competitors? Please comment below and share some examples of how you use competitor research to your advantage!

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Get Motivated: A Step-by-Step Guide For A Small Business

The kids are back to school and summer is over. We’ve always loved this time of year because it feels like a time to make a fresh start without the pressures we all put on ourselves in January to completely change “this” or “that” about our business, life or career. Here’s a step-by-step guide to ensure you head into autumn motivated and ready to make some changes, and it’s as easy as 1,2,3.

 

Pause
You might have taken time to do this over the summer, but if not, why not do it now? It could be as little as a few hours one afternoon. Life happens at such a quick pace these days, just having a chance to change your scenery and breathe a little deeper can do you and your business the world
of good.

Reflect
Give yourself the head space to think about the last eight months of the year. Ask yourself some poignant questions and be brutally honest with your answers. What were your goals? How are you tracking against them? Are you on track to achieve what you wanted to in the time frame you gave
yourself? If you are, then great – you should celebrate. But if not, why not? No excuses allowed.

This isn’t an exercise in beating yourself up but more one of reflection. We’re all caught up in the day to day madness that is running your own business, but without taking the time to look at where we’ve come from and where we’re heading you leave no room to manoeuvre, or to change
direction.

Adjust
Once you’ve figured out what’s worked well for you, and what hasn’t, it’s time to adjust. You are the master of your own ship and it’s never too late to change course. Make a new set of goals to reach by year end. Make them SMART.

Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Realistic
Time Based

There’s plenty of blogs and articles out there on goal setting and planning. Here are a few to get you started:

 

We would love to hear from you. Comment below with one of your goals – after all, sharing them helps keep you accountable!

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Content Creation: The key to your websites’ success

Every decent website revolves around the same thing: content. A Unique, relevant and up-to date content is highly influential in how successful a website and marketing campaign performs. However, many find that content creation is very challenging and it is one of the most common issues in a business. Often this is due to a lack of time or resources, or simply that people don’t know where to start.

content creation Marketing Website Statistics

 

 

 

 

 

 

In order to create content and use it for marketing purposes, a business needs to consider how the content will be shared on their website and various online marketing platforms. It is also important to consider the frequency of content and who the intended audience is. There is a wide range of options for online marketing, such as social media, email marketing, website content and blogs. There is plenty for a business to choose from!

Many studies have been conducted into the effectiveness of having a content strategy. These studies have found that higher levels of content on a site can have an impact on the business’ marketing strategy and overall search engine ranking. These are just some of the benefits of having a steady stream of fresh, targeted content:

  • Increase levels of traffic to a website
  • Increase amount of enquiries/ leads received via website
  • Build up followers on social media
  • Enhance brand awareness
  • Become trusted within your industry by writing content to showcase abilities and knowledge

 

content creation Marketing Website B2B Leads

 

Sounds great! But how do you create content?

Content creation doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Every business has something to talk about, whether it’s a new product or service, an upcoming event, or an opinion on a recent industry related story. Not forgetting the most important (and easiest!) source of unique content; customers!

Creating stories around customers and the services/products they have received is the easiest form of content to write. Start by asking the customers for their feedback. The comments that they provide can be used to as the focus point of your content, and this can be shared throughout all of your marketing activities. After all, word of mouth and referrals are the greatest sales tool!

Our top tip for new content creation is to include as many targeted keywords and phrases as possible. This will help towards search engine rankings and help sites such as Google to understand what the content is about. But remember to keep it natural and don’t stuff keywords in randomly. This could be seen negatively by Google and other search bots.

Once you’ve got some content and keep going! Set yourself a target and allocate some time for putting together more. Try to keep to a regular schedule, even if it’s just a blog post every month. It all helps!

 

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