What are the most common DIY graphic design pitfalls?
I'm considering redesigning my website and business cards by myself. What are the most common mistakes people make when designing for their brand/company on their own?
Not knowing how to use any of the software and or not having any creative talent to begin with which makes the process take waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay longer than they anticipated. Then on top of that, it's always harder to do things for yourself than it is doing it for others. I don't know what you do, but try doing it for your own self and see how difficult it is.... then use that to gauge doing your own graphics and add that on top of not being an Artist or knowing how to use the software.... not fun.. lol
Whether you're offering a product, service, portfolio for your work, your website not only should reflect you and your brand, it also needs to be the central location for your business. There’s merely no alternative method around it. All of your marketing efforts lead back to your website. that is why it’s of the utmost importance to setup your website properly. If you avoid these six mistakes, you can rest assured that you simply have a fully functional website that’s ready to handle all of your online business.
1. No Business Plan and Marketing Strategy
2. Underestimating the Work Involved
3. Choosing the Wrong Host and eCommerce Platforms
4. Lack of Balance Between Design and Message
5. Improper Use of Template
6. Alignment and Spacing Problems
For additional info, visit at http://www.keenesystems.com/Services/GraphicDesign.aspx
Really interesting question.
Asides from the usual speech about getting what you pay for, knowing when to pay for the professionals, and understanding that good design is more than just a Linda.com Photoshop tutorial and some creativity...In my experience there are some really practical pitfalls that DIY designers often face.
A LACK OF UNDERSTANDING AROUND THE CONTEXT IN WHICH THAT DESIGN WILL BE USED
For instance little knowledge regarding image resolution and what that means on a practical level in relation to the project you are working on. A lack of consideration regarding the size/distance that the design will be viewed at and how it will be viewed — digital, print, on a smart phone, on the side of a van...— can cause real issues. Often DIYers build a design at say 500px @ 72dpi in Photoshop for example and then don't understand why that image is pixelated and not suitable for printing in a brochure further down the line.
This is also tied in with little knowledge around colour and how colour behaves differently in different contexts. And I don't just mean onscreen colour vs printed, but also how the paper you choose and the coating on that paper can affect the final result, about when and why to use Pantone/Spot colours etc.
ASSUMING THAT ALL DESIGN CAN BE DONE IN PHOTOSHOP
Not having a crucial understanding of the difference between the three major bits of design software and what each of them is used for is a huge pitfall. Often DIYers assume that they can build any design they need for any purpose for their business in Photoshop, a pixel-based programme.
This assumption is also linked to a gap in their knowledge regarding file formats and when and why each format should be used. The biggest pitfall here tends to be with designing logos and not grasping the importance of vector artwork. Again, they might be able to create a logo but will it be usable for their business on a practical level as they apply it within different contexts?
I realise I've written quite a bit here so will end it there!
Hopefully this is helpful to someone.
Probably the most common pitfall is making it too complicated. Another is using a template or making it look like everyone else's. (Even famous companies do this sometimes in re-designs… can't you tell sometimes by the style about when a logo was created?) Another thing an amateur may forget is to create complementary elements to reinforce the logo on the Web site, documents, etc.
First of all- if you're set on doing it yourself - DO YOUR RESEARCH! Go to Barnes and Nobles or something and look at some design magazines of books. Print is great one or HOW. Get a feel for whats out there. Simply 'being creative' does not make you a designer. Thats like assuming you can fix an engine because you think corvettes are cool. Theres a lot more involved than you realize.
Second - Get a consultant if you have no idea hat you're doing. You might have easily accessed software but that in no way makes you a professional without training and experience.
Third - Understand the business end of things. Research your market, think about what kind of printed material you may need, there eighty ba-zillion ways to do this, so don't think theres one route to this. Also - start small. Begin with your logo, and the apply it to what you need, that way you can maintain the same look/feel through your branding materials etc. if you need help, Im always available for consultation 914 920 9828
If you don't have any design skills, consider at least going with a well designed template. They have strong frameworks that take out about 80% of the work. Then you can add your logo and copy. Also consider a CMS like Wordpress for your site. I've had lots of good results with templates here: http://themeforest.net/ but you do need to know your way around Wordpress to fully customize the templates.
As for business cards, honestly, any printshop will do the layout design for you for free if you have the assets (logo, copy, typeface).
Yes, Please a Designer with expertise and a vision. DIYers may not realize how much goes into branding and making all the components work together. I look back at stuff I did 17 years ago and think...goodness! It would be the same to hire a plumber to cut your hair as an example. Not that a plumber can't but it isn't typical path of success.
Tools aren't very self explanatory. Logistics on a given design don't tend to meet scale requirements etc as a result.
First of all start by writing yourself a creative brief. This can often be the most challenging part of the process as a brief should be explicit and succinct.
A creative brief should address the following:
1. What you want to achieve
2. Who is and isn't your target audience
3. What is your business proposition
4. What role does the visual brand identity have in supporting your business
5. What is your tone of voice
Have a look online and pull out some examples from other categories that you really love. Understand why they appeal to you - is it personality, positioning, clarity of message, simplicity?
Don't try and shoehorn all of your messages and values into your identity. Articulate your brand essence and personality and use that as a start point for your creative. The remaining messages and values should filter down from that in content and tone.
When looking at website design, be sure to map out a clear architecture. Capture your audience with a home page that delivers your proposition and point of difference with clarity and impact. You have at most 5 seconds to engage your audience be sure to make it simple and meaningful.
Subsequent pages should act as an elevator pitch inviting the audience to explore and understand at the appropriate level (assuming your are a service business - this may be different for a commercial sales site).
Once you've worked this through ... engage a creative to design your brand identity. Honestly, there is no substitute. You will save time and money in the long run.
You can find great creatives at little cost if you are prepared to invest the time. Perhaps team up with a local graphics college to see if you could set your challenge as part of a graduate project. Equally recently qualified graduates are great value and are keen to apply their creative skills in the real/commercial world to build their portfolio.
Poor type choices will stand out immediately and will out you as a hack.
I think the creativity is the biggest hurdle and putting your individual stamp to multiple facades of designing through different media. This means creating a unified look or spec sheets for your brand as so that it doesn't loose its focus. Also a good designer can help express you better than you can. Most people are modest even when they consider themselves not to be, as we over analyze what we are putting out. A good marketing/designer can really aid in this by telling your story as it should be told. From someone telling it to someone who doesn't know. We tend to do things as we think people should see or business and sometimes miss the end client.
I agree with Steve. There are so many things that go into creating a fresh, novel design. Mostly, it takes lots of experience. You can't really get that quickly. If you send me a JPEG of your design I could critique it for you but each design has it's own pitfalls. Every design is different and it's difficult to give you generalities. With experience, a designer can use a design style many would consider out dated and tweak it to be amazing. Plus, design is also so subjective it's hard to tell you what you would like. You really need to atleast consult someone with the experience you lack to get your desired design. I'm trying not to sound arrogant, as designer, it's just hard to explain to you the design trends that would work for you. Each design requires different things, depending on industry, audience and your individual preferences. I hope this helps. But I encourage you to send me your initial design and I could give you a few pointers. Msg me if your interested.
Hi Rob, Although it is possible to create your own business cards and web design, I think in the long run it is better to hire professionals to make you and your brand stand out. First impressions are very important and so poorly designed logos, business cards and websites do not give the impression that you have a solid business. It is worth the investment to get off to a great start with your branding. It doesn't have to be expensive. Just get some quotes and go from there. PM me if I can be of help.
Good design is invaluable and essential to the success and sustainability of your brand. Don't cut corners here. You'll regret it.
There are some very powerful design principles you need to understand and put to work for your business. One example... you can control the way a viewer's eyes flow through your layout. The example I like to use requires you are old enough to remember the cigarette billboards, now banned, in the USA. For marlboro cigarettes there often was a cowboy on a horse smoking a cigarette. He was always either looking or riding in the opposite direction of the mandatory surgeon general's warning about cigarettes? Why? Studies confirm that people a) look in the direction a figure is looking in a layout; or b) follow the motion (riding a horse, etc.) in a layout. The same rule applies for abstract objects... people's eyes flow in the direction of angular shapes, etc.
You need to understand graphic design principles, review some classic strong usage examples, consider poor layouts and how you'd correct them... then consider 2-3 options for the work you will do. At that point, you'll be much more equipped to make good choices.
The use of hideous and eligible typefaces, incorrect spelling, poor typography in general and no knowledge of how to prepare artwork for print.
Honestly I'd say "NOT doing it yourself"
So many people fork over hundreds/thousands to outsource graphics when most people are capable of it themselves after a couple weeks playing around in photoshop/illustrator/whatever with tutorials. You'll never have to pay again, and you'll always be original.
[ahem] Doing it yourself is the biggest pitfall. Do you do your own dental work? Or electrical? Or do you go to someone you trust has spent time and money learning how to do what they do well so that you get what you need done right the first time?
One of the most common mistakes I have found is when people go the route of choosing very inexpensive or free templates to create their website and/or business cards by themselves. A business needs to make a good first impression. Free, or very inexpensive, sounds good on the surface, but by going that route people often end up with very bland results that look unprofessional. It's worth it to spend the extra money up front for a professional to do the work for you, so you have something that will let you make that good first impression to your customers and clients. In the case of a website, you'll also have the flexibility to add new features to your site as your business grows.
There are so many things that can go wrong where you'll end up ill-positioned in your target market that unless you have a solid background in both graphic and web design, I wouldn't attempt it. There are programs to learn (Adobe Illustrator), branding guidelines to adhere to in order to make sure you're reaching your audience, and designing a website isn't for the faint of heart. The do-it-yourself websites that you see on TV scream, "I'm a template."