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    The Dos and Don'ts of Graphic Design

    Posted by Abby Cook on Fri, Mar 21, 2014



    Rarely do we stop and think about how we see graphic design all around us, every day. Every advertisement, brand logo, those are all designs that impact us. Some designs stand out more than the rest. They grab your attention and hold it. The goal for any graphic designer is to captivate and inform the viewer. There are a few ways to help assure that your designs will be successful. Let's take a look at what can assist you in making a top notch design and what to watch out for to avoid putting off your audience.



    DO look around and see what’s out there in the design world. What’s “hot” right now? Checking out what other designers are doing is a great way to get inspired!

    DON'T steal work from other designers. Just like you, these people have gone through a dry spell. They also have worked really hard to get out of it and put out an excellent product.


    DO use clean and modern fonts so that your typeface is easy to read.

    DON'T use too many fonts in one design. The viewer may lose interest or get overwhelmed if the design is flooded with a mess of fonts. 


    DO venture into using more stylized fonts. Maybe you’re looking to have a more funky design or a clean font may not go well with the message you are trying to get across.

    DON'T use comic sans or crazy fonts that end up being hard to read. Remember you are a designer and you want to be taken seriously. You are not a third grader trying to make a “Keep Out” sign for your clubhouse.


    DO implement images into your design. The image can stand out in most cases and will grab the attention of the passerby.

    DON'T overload your design with too many images. You want to make sure your design is conveying a clear message and you aren't taking away from the message with a multitude of images.


    DO use stock photos. There are tons of websites out there that have an image for anything you can think of. Some websites such as shutterstock.com offer a pay as you go option if you don’t want to shell out a ton of money for a subscription. 

    DON'T use Google images! First off, you don’t own the rights to those images. Second, often times the images aren’t that great of quality. You want to make sure you have a professional looking image that you can alter and resize without pixelation.



    DO take time to choose your color scheme. Giving the colors the attention they need will serve you well. Are you unsure about a color scheme or need some additional inspiration? You can use Google to search “color schemes” and find a library of results that will help you see a variety of different colors working together. You can also flip through magazine pages or promotional materials laying around and use those as reference materials for color combinations.

    DON'T slap colors together that don’t make sense with the type of piece you are designing. Different colors spark different emotions in people. So it is important to pay attention to what emotions the colors you are using give off. For example, if you are creating an ad for a company's event with an Autumn theme, you wouldn’t use a color scheme consisting of pink and green pastels. That would give off a spring vibe rather than a fall vibe.


    DO pay attention to how much white space is between your letters. You want to make sure that the words are easily readable so the view can understand the message.

    DON'T space your letters so far apart that you almost could fit another letter in between. On the other end of the spectrum, don’t make your letters so close together that the word could be mistaken for something else. If you are using kerning to take up space, look for an alternative such as making the font a larger size.


    DO remember that you’re the designer, not your client. That is why they are hiring you. It is important to get clear details from your client on what they want in the design and what is expected of you. However, it is also important for the both of you to understand that the end goal needs to be realistic for the both of you. Designs become iconic and memorable, they are not created that way.

    DON'T have a negative attitude while working with a client. They hired you and if they don’t like your attitude, they don’t have to keep you. Keep in mind that word of mouth is the best form of advertising. You want to make sure that every client you work with has a pleasant experience.


    We hope that this list has helped you improve your graphic design skills. For even more handy information, we would like to provide you with this eBook we created on the "Elements and Principles of Graphic Design". You can click here or the picture below for your free download compliments of Specs Howard School of Media Arts.


    Specs Howard School of Media Arts eBook "Elements and Principles of Graphic Design"

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