The cliché proclaims that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. While that’s a nice sentiment, it doesn’t apply to design. Good design enhances your marketplace presence, proclaims your organization’s story, and enables your customers or patients to easily identify and engage with your brand. Bad design is embarrassing at best, and at worst, it can cause you to lose business to your competitors.
Sometimes, the best way to understand good design is by examining bad design. If you find your ideas steering in this direction, turn back, because here are seven design mistakes you want to avoid at all costs.
Design mistakes you should avoid
1. Copy that is difficult or impossible to read
You‘d think this one would be a no-brainer, right? Surprisingly, there are several print and online designs that implement colors, fonts and word art that make it difficult to interpret. We’ve even seen some websites that have utilized red letters on a dark blue background. (True story, but we’re not mentioning names).
When implementing copy into your website design, we recommend:
- Avoiding unusual fonts
- Keeping the fonts consistent throughout your document
- Ensuring that your type has enough contrast to stand out from the background
- Using a font size that is appropriate for your project
2. Mysterious Navigation
Believe it or not, in the earlier days of web design, this navigation was actually considered innovative: Menu elements didn’t appear until you “moused over” them or clicked on them. This usually took the form of strategically placed icons and pictures (without descriptions) that you had to engage with before you understood where the site was actually taking you.
While a treasure hunt can be a lot of fun, it doesn’t apply to maneuvering through a website. Remember, when visitors come to your website, they skim it. This means they aren’t going to take time to inspect every individual element and go on a treasure hunt to figure out where to go.
In fact, you may be shocked to discover that viewers make their decision about whether or not they like a website within the first 50 milliseconds of exposure, according to a study from the International Journal of Human-Computer Studies.
If you use mysterious navigation, you’re asking for problems.
Use appropriate menus that are clearly labeled in the headers or footers. Don’t overdo it trying to make them too creative or avant-garde. Remember that your viewers want to find what they are looking for quickly.
3. Warped or stretched photos
Make sure when you place a photo that you are keeping the aspect ratio. This means if you increase the size vertically, the horizontal settings will be match accordingly. Nothing screams amateur more than photos that are out of proportion. Be aware that all “stretches” aren’t dramatic. Sometimes being off just a slight bit can make a huge difference.
It’s great that your college friend knows some Photoshop, but when designing an ad or a website, it’s best to stick with the professionals who work with these elements every day. (take a look at some of our award-winning work). The menu elements to maintain the aspect ratio aren’t always located in obvious places, and problematic photos may look fine to the untrained eye.
4. Low-resolution photographs
It should go without saying that all your photos should be taken by a professional photographer. Low-resolution photos create a poor impression, particularly if they are in advertisements or videos. Be aware that you can’t enlarge a low resolution photo. If you do, you’ll just get a fuzzy image.
Hire a professional photographer. Visual content is simply too important to your overall message to “nickel-and-dime” it. There’s no logic to spending a lot of money on a marketing campaign only to skimp on photography. Remember, professional photographers have the resources, experience and equipment to create stellar images that will amplify your brand’s story.
5. The unbearable “Great Wall of Text”:
As we mentioned in #2 above, people don’t read websites; they skim them. Therefore, the last thing they want to see is a large, gray wall of text. Why? It’s overwhelming and gives the impression that digesting the information will take an extensive amount of time. Of course, if it’s difficult for visitors to get what they need, they’ll search elsewhere.
First, don’t overdo it on the amount of content you put on a site. Not only will it not be read, but you’ll force visitors to scroll down to get complete information. Shorter is almost always better. Second, write your copy in a way that lends itself to skimming. This means making it more reader-friendly by using bullet points, shorter paragraphs and headlines.
6. No focus
If all elements are the same size, and all photos the same size, then the viewer doesn’t know where to look. If nothing stands out, how can you effectively demonstrate what your company’s unique value propositions are? Even more important, you need to guide the viewer through your site to prompt them to take action.
Determine the goal of your website or ad. Is it to get someone to sign up for an email newsletter, make a purchase or complete a survey? Once your goal is set, use your content and visuals to direct the viewer’s experience toward that end.
7. Failure to grasp who you are
Sure, a sleek, hi-tech website like a big box retailer is fine, but if you’re running a small, local craft store, maybe you need something more in tune with who you are. Before you begin your project, you should have a good idea of what unique qualities your company or practice brings to the market place and how this relates to fulfilling your clients’ needs.
Craft your brand story before you do any marketing. This involves evaluating the service you offer to customers and what sets you apart from your competitors. When people hear your name, what impression do you want them to have?
This will give you a clearer idea of who your target customers are so you can build a campaign or plan around capturing that demographic. For example, if you run a small crafts store, don’t give the appearance of a large retail chain. Instead, focus your site and your business model on specialized customer service.
We’re an award-winning Wilmington marketing agency that understands good design
While there is a science to good design, it’s also an art. A lot of that has to do with evaluating the intangible qualities of what makes an ad, website or logo crisp, clear and creative. We’ve assembled a top-notch team of professionals who want you to succeed. Contact us so we can help you amplify your message and be heard above the noise of the marketplace…and we’ll do it in style.
Since its inception in 2000, Proclaim Interactive has combined excellence in design and think-out-of- the-box digital marketing to become one of the most award-winning firms in the region. Proclaim Interactive provides website design, social media management, SEO and general marketing services designed to amplify clients’ messages. For more information call 910.795.4143.