Whether it’s grammar, spelling, or an image that’s been cut wrong. Nobody likes to make mistakes.

But mistakes do happen, because we’re only human after all. The odd misplaced apostrophe here, a word that shouldn’t have been capitalised there.

The challenge is: how can we minimise the mistakes we make, and how can we effectively catch ourselves when we make a blunder?

Well, today we’re going to share 9 tips for avoiding design mistakes. We hope you’ll find them useful… 


This first and possibly most important point. Proofread. A study has found that a single spelling mistake on a website can reduce a company’s revenue by half. This highlights (albeit quite dramatically) the importance of quality even on a minute scale. When it comes to grammar, it’s not enough to rely on auto-correct alone. Remember that word processors don’t flag up the improper use of words. Its and It’s. There, Their, and They’re. Where and Were. Misplacing apostrophe’s. Unfortunately these also happen to be the easiest mistakes to miss when checking back over your work.

This is why proofreading is so important. Make an effort to proofread everything, more than once. Preferably it should be done by someone who didn’t write the content, because the writer often knows the text too well and will miss some of the smaller mistakes. So it’s good to send it to a fresh pair of eyes, and then to go over it again yourself, ideally with a magnifying glass and a pair of tweezers.

Consider the loss

Remember that mistakes on print jobs cost money. If you discover a typo on your website, it doesn’t take too much effort to set it right. But printed mistakes are not so easily corrected. And ultimately they will cost you either time and money in correcting the mistake, or credibility if you send out a run of flyers that all feature spelling or grammatical errors. 

Understand the brief

Though this seems obvious, it’s not uncommon for mistakes to surface due to miscommunication. 

It’s crucial, therefore, that a clear and constant conversation takes place between the designer and the client. After all, both parties are equally responsible for the fruition of the desired product. So it’s important that the client provides informative instructions, but it’s just as important for the designer to understand those instructions and ask for clarity where necessary. 

The easiest approach is to simply go over the client’s instructions a few times, highlighting any potentially confusing or misleading points. Then it’s just a matter of sending a quick email or organising a short meeting, which in the long-run could save lots of time and confusion. 

Don’t use too many fonts

Using too many fonts is a trap that’s easy to fall into, but just as easy to avoid. Though it may be tempting to experiment and mash a handful of different fonts together in a single design, the end result will often be confusing and messy.

Too many fonts can detract from the message, and can give the impression of a novice designer.

The best practise to avoid this mistake is to follow the rule of two. That is, avoid using more than two fonts wherever possible.

Use the right fonts

Second to not overusing fonts is using them properly. It’s crucial to remember that font choice shouldn’t be arbitrary. Every font suits a mood, a theme, and a demographic.  

Giving some thought to what font you’ll use for which audience can really boost the overall quality of a design. Simply choosing a font and asking yourself what that font represents for you is a great way to start. Alternatively you could build a bank of “stock fonts” to represent various themes and feelings, which you can then pluck from at will. 

An obvious example: avoid using comic sans if you’re a solicitor. 

Don’t use type over images

The last thing to say about type: avoid layering text over images. More often than not, text and images combined into a single element will result in confusion.

The safer option is always to place them separately, giving each individual element its own space.

Say no to watermarked and low-resolution images

There’s a time and a place for stock photography, and it’s certainly not a bad thing. The problem, however, is low quality and watermarked images. These can seriously damage the credibility and professionalism of a design piece. 

It’s something that most of us are aware of, but it’s always worth keeping in mind. Just remember to double- and triple-check your stock images before using. 

Also, whilst on the subject of stock photography, it’s also worth mentioning volume. Stock images can be great when used properly, but too many can lend a cheap and unprofessional quality to the work. By their very nature stock images are easily identifiable for what they are, so use sparingly.

Use the proper hierarchy 

In graphic design, hierarchy refers to how a piece is organised in order to command attention. When reading something, whether it’s a leaflet or a poster or an article, the hierarchy lets people know which parts of the design are most important, and where their eyes should be moving to next.

When hierarchy is done properly, the reader’s eye will flow seamlessly from one element to the next, finding the most important information immediately. Done wrong, however, and the reader won’t know where to look to find key points. 

A great way to avoid incorrect hierarchy is to first determine the core message of your design. Once you understand the most crucial information, the hierarchy should dictate itself. 

Respect your customers

Above all else, taking the time to comb through your work and protect it from mistakes is about respecting both your current and prospective clients. Small mistakes risk projecting an unprofessional image and can cause people to question your authority on a subject. And it can make customers feel like you don’t really care. So it pays to be thorough. 

Remember that by respecting your customers you’ll automatically work to make your marketing flawless. So it’s a win-win!

Keep reading

For more design tips, why not take a look at our post on 7 tricks for capturing peoples’ attention.