FIVE DESIGN MISTAKES TO AVOID

As a small business on a tight budget, it’s likely that you will design some of your own marketing communications, whether it’s your email newsletter, a flyer or even your web site. For those without formal graphic design training, it’s easy to make some common design mistakes. Read on for five problems to avoid, and keep your designs clean and organized.

1. Too many fonts and styles. Stick with no more than two fonts. I often like to use a clean san serif font like Arial for headlines, and a serif font like Times for body copy. It gives the text some contrast, and makes it easier to differentiate the hierarchy in information. If you want to emphasize a word, phrase or sentence, you can increase the font size, make it bold or italicize it. Please choose only one method of creating emphasis, though. Bolding and italicizing copy is just unnecessary.

2. Filling the page. If you completely cover a page with text and images, the message often gets lost. To use a design term, you’ve filled all your white space. Having white space doesn’t mean the page has to be white, it just means that the content of the page should have room to breathe. When you’re setting your page margins, you want to give the copy some space on either side. Half-inch margins create a wide column width that’s very difficult to read. Too many images on a page distract the viewer, and dilute the message. One or two strong images supporting the copy are optimal.

3. Not following a grid. It is much easier for you to organize information, and for the viewer to process information, if you use a grid to design your communications. Using two columns of different widths helps to separate and define the hierarchy of content on the page. The most important content, including your logo and contact information, should appear near the top of the page. This is where viewers will look first.

4. No cohesive design between communications. If your business card, email template, direct mail and web site all have different designs, people are not going to remember your company. Having a cohesive look that is carried throughout all of your print, digital and web communications is the best way to create a memorable brand. Someone may not need your product or service today, but down the road when they do need you, your visual brand should be the first one they remember.

5. Leaving out your logo and contact information. Your logo is the visual signature of your company’s brand. Without it, your brand is lost. Don’t have a logo? You need to have one designed. Now. Also, make sure you include at least your phone number, email address and web site on every piece of your communications. For retail businesses, you need your physical address too. If you have a Facebook or LinkedIn page, or a Twitter account, include those as well. Without a way to find you, people will move on to another business for their needs.