As a graphic designer my obsession with spacing, colour charts and fonts are often the qualities that my wife fondly describe as “snobbish,” or even “pedantic” in a tone that doesn’t necessarily suggest a level of awe or respect. However, they are without question, the key to client satisfaction (if not necessarily the best ice breaker at a dinner party.) So for all my loyal readers out there I thought I would use this week’s blog to offer a signature rant. This week: the five worst graphic design crimes that make me hold my head in my hands and despair over people who should know better.
Widows or orphans as they are sometimes called (we graphic designers are a dramatic bunch) refer to a word or line of text that is forced to stand alone. Leaving excess white space between paragraphs, widows break the flow of the text. They also detract the readers focus and draw unnecessary attention to a single word or phrase. Easily solvable, at the very last stage of editing, simply by adjusting the space between words or letters. In my humble opinion there really is no excuse for this level of graphic design negligence.
Apart from certain rare individuals (like myself) few people look at a poster or booklet and think, “wow those paragraphs are precisely aligned.” However, even those without an eye for design can often spot misalignment, when images or text are placed incorrectly and don’t line up. Plaguing a number of posters I see around my area it’s all I can do not to track the designer down and lecture them on best practice.
3. Lack of white space
White Space essentially refers to the part of design where there is no text, or images – simply empty space. It’s an underrated, yet extremely important component of graphic design. Overly cluttered, cramped pages can be distracting to a reader. However, with clear spacing a good designer can increase reader engagement, highlight call to actions and create a beautifully balanced piece.
4. Comic Sans
Released in 1994 Comic Sans has seen its popularity soar over the years. According to this article, Comic Sans won over the general public because “it isn’t complicated, it isn’t sophisticated…it’s just fun and that’s why people like it.” This argument may be compelling, but quite simply I disagree. Like preferring One Direction over Billy Joel, comic sans is a childish blight in our typography landscape. With numerous websites devoted to banning every graphic designer’s nightmare I still shake my head when I see this font used.
5. Design for designs sake
In design the old adage, less is more, always rings true. Design should be strategic – allowing potential customers to gain one clear message, however some designers often get a little over enthusiastic. Adding in additional elements where the layout doesn’t need it. To hear someone slightly more famous than myself add in his two cents check out this TED talk by John Maeda who offers some pretty compelling arguments on why simplicity in design really is key. And, of course, if you would like to learn a little more about the most renowned proponent of simplicity check out my blog on Steve Jobs.
If you have any examples of truly terrible graphic design feel free to share.