Avoid Graphic Design Beginner Mistakes

Whether you are designing your website yourself or working with someone who adapts your creative ideas, it only takes a few missteps to turn a promising design project into a disaster. When you’re too eager to be creative or original and you are inexperienced, you tend to forget your readers, whom you want to reach and engage. But there are a few tricks on how to avoid graphic design beginner mistakes.

You don’t have a website without content. But nobody wants to read that content without the right design. And your design choices reflect your brand and your organization’s appearance and professionalism.

So, content and design matter. Can you pull that off by yourself without creative design experience by avoiding graphic design beginner mistakes from the get-go? Sure you can.


Content and design matter. Can you pull that off by yourself without creative design experience? Sure you can.Here's how. Share on X


Effective designs follow basic guidelines that even beginners can apply. Here’s a checklist to help you tackle your next creative project:

Good design practices
  • make sure to apply lots of white space around elements so that the design doesn’t feel cluttered
  • use font sizes to suggest a visual hierarchy: large to small (headlines > subheads > plain text); content flows from top to bottom
  • use clean, easy-to-read fonts, like sans serifs; avoid Times New Roman (the Microsoft Word default font)
  • go for usability and functionality over pure aesthetics
  • less is (usually) more; the bare well-thought-out minimum is sometimes all you need to get your point across
  • whatever your design choice: be consistent! And stick to one color palette throughout your website
  • design in black and white first to get spacing, hierarchies, alignments and placements right. Only then, gradually add color; you’d be surprised how little color you will need
  • imagine a grid and place your design within and aligned to it
  • spellcheck again and again! Even the best creations that have grammar/spelling errors will look unprofessional and careless
  • think of your audience when you design, not yourself


What to avoid
  • avoid overcomplicating your design: Use clean lines, similar shapes, simple element hierarchies and visual clues
  • avoid clashing colors (in images as well as in font/background color choices)
  • avoid text on a dark background, which is hard to read
  • avoid too many colors; stick with a color palette of 3 complimenting colors and one contrast color for elements that need to stand out
  • avoid too many fonts and styles. Search for fonts that reflect and complement your brand’s mood, tone and message
  • avoid centering long text; it’s hard to read.
  • avoid using obvious stock photos

Most importantly, don’t overthink your creations to be original. Your designs have only one purpose: to attract readers, give them the information they need, be easy on their eyes to engage with your content — and make them want to come back for more.


Cross-Cultural Design: The Web Without Borders


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Copyright © Tekla Szymanski Content + Design LLC. All rights reserved. Please share/quote with attribution.


About the author

Content Designer, Editor, Writer and Web Developer for content-rich websites with a global reach. Founder of Content+Design™ LLC. Helping you focus on your content to get your message out.

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