Thanks to Canva, and other free design programs, it's easier than ever to dabble in graphic design. But learning the software doesn't mean you've learned design, so I'm sharing twelve of the common mistakes I see people make when DIYing their designs.
Now, as with all design "rules" - there will always be exceptions, and ways you can break the rules beautifully. So take all of these with a grain of salt.
For all of the examples, I'll be using a square promo image for this blog post, similar to the title image above.
This should be self-explanatory, but if you choose a photo or illustration for your graphic, it should be relevant to the accompanying topic or text. Adding an irrelevant image, no matter how beautiful, doesn't add any quality to your graphic, and can confuse your audience.
Too Much Information, Too Little Space
It's a common impulse to jam-pack your graphics with lots of information, hoping to make your audience really understand the message you're trying to convey. But when lots of information is combined in a small space, you're not only sacrificing the quality of the design, you're overwhelming your audience.
Instead, use only what's necessary to catch attention and introduce your message then send your audience somewhere else to get more details.
No Intentional Text Formatting
Otherwise know as "slapped on" text. When adding text to an image, most of the time the text is what will hold attention the longest - make sure you make the text feel cohesive and intentional.
It's easy to find a photo of a computer if you're writing about digital marketing, or find a photo of a vegetable if you're writing about healthy eating, but neither of those adds anything to your message. If your audience is reading about healthy eating, they're already thinking about vegetables.
Try instead to add a little bit more by finding a photo that's a little unusual (but still relevant) or one that displays an emotion related to your topic.
This is pretty simple - keep your borders even, please!
These borders can be literal color borders, or implied borders you align your text to.
Combining Photos Haphazardly
You may want to share several photos or screenshots at once, in one image. Make sure you do it in a neat and orderly way to make the image feel balanced.
Dark Text on Dark Image
It's hard to read. That's it.
No or Small Margins
Small margins make images feel cramped, and overwhelming. Generous margins give our eyes a place to rest.
Thin Font on Bright or Dark Background
I love a thin font, but using a light-colored thin font on a dark background can cause the thin font to feel overwhelmed and washed out.
Choppy Layouts with Unrelated Sections
You want to do your best to make all the sections of your graphics feel like they belong together.
They need to look like family, not neighbors.
It's fun to have a theme for your brand, but most of the time you don't want your graphics to look like an invitation to a kid's birthday party.
Heavy Text Shadows and Effects
Basically, your effects shouldn't be noticed before you have a chance to read what the text says.
I'm a brand designer who helps business owners who are tired of their marketing efforts just pulling "okay" results. I help them stand out and be remembered online by designing them a Noteworthy Visual Brand that attract their ideal clients - effortlessly.