Why having a [real] graphic designer is key.
So, you’re in the business for a new logo, company re-brand or even want to get into the digital world because [let’s face it] it’s 2020 and there’s nothing like a pandemic to nudge your company in a new direction. Some companies opt for the good ol’ “quick fix” – the quicker and cheaper, the better, right? Well, not really. Good design is not about the turn-around time or price for a logo or flyer - there is a lot more to consider when a client’s brief is being brought to life. A few design principles, that may seem obvious, include (but are not limited to) hierarchy, colour, typography, scale and space – ways of simplifying complicated information into a beautifully crafted piece of work. At least, this is what I was exposed to while I was studying.
I am not saying that only good designers come from tertiary institutions, but rather that there is a reason why you pay a little more and wait a little longer for design work from a qualified designer than a rookie designer – there’s so much more than just the process of creating.
How do you spot a rookie designer?
Even though graphic design is a very subjective field, there are a few non negotiables that you’re taught as a design student. The infamous “what makes good design?” will be revisited annually, not to get a specific answer, but to help you understand that there are in fact rules in the design-process, there are trends that need to be taken into consideration and that there are guidelines when completing a brief. Now, as a rookie designer, you don’t really know what you don’t know – why wouldn’t a designer just design for the sake of designing and not have a single thought put into their work?
Here are a few common design mistakes that separate the good from the bad.
- The design is too wordy. As I’ve mentioned before, it is a graphic designer’s job to take complex information and turn it onto something more understandable and relatable to the reader or identified target market. People like pictures, not a lot of words.
- Poor legibility. If you can’t read the content due to bad colour- or font usage, it is designed poorly. Kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?
- Using too many (mismatching) fonts. This is a good one. The internet is full of all the quirky and fun font types that could make any high school student project jump for joy. Your business is not a high school project, and not all great fonts belong in one project. Non-designers will overdo it by combining too many fonts – that’s an easy one to spot.
- Bad kerning. Kerning is the space between letters in a word. As a design student, this principle is drilled into your brain, one that can never be unseen. Bad kerning leads to your content being too hard to read or altogether illegible. A good designer will fix it manually if the font-designer didn’t take spacing into consideration. A labour of love.
- Lack of negative space. You might not think this is a real thing, but you don’t have to use every single open space on the design. It’s good for elements to have some “breathing space”. This helps with the hierarchy of your design and it is good for the viewers eyes to have a little break every now-and-then.
These are only a few obvious mistakes, but the list really goes on. If you’re on the lookout for some design work, consider who you choose to get the job done. It is fair to ask for a portfolio to see what the designer or company are capable of. With a good designer you’ll get good value for your money. Would you trust a self-taught surgeon with your life or an unqualified investor with your money?