We’ve all been there: You’ve got a big presentation looming, and you want to knock the socks off of your audience. You know you’ve got great material, but you just can’t get your presentation to look as amazing as you envisioned.
Or maybe you’ve got a project due tomorrow and you haven’t quite started yet. Just because you’re starting your creation the night before doesn’t mean it has to look like you put it off to the last minute.
We may not encourage procrastination, but sometimes deadlines get the best of us. Besides, we’re in the business of helping you make the most out of your creations, regardless of the obstacles you’re facing.
In times like these, it helps to have some fool-proof design tricks up your sleeve, the kind that most experienced design professionals have learned the hard way. Of course, we’re not all design pros. The good news? You don’t have to be a pro to design like one.
But you know what they say: You can’t avoid the mistakes you don’t realize you’re making. So we talked to our design team to get the scoop on the biggest design pitfalls affecting your work.
We asked them what major mistakes they see in Piktochart infographics, presentations, and posters. But we didn’t stop there. We didn’t just want to know what design blunders really get under their skin. We wanted them to give us advice on how you can fix these gaffes.
Now, we’re sharing those tips with you. The best part: The biggest design mistakes they list are fixable – avoidable even! And better yet, these common errors fit into three easy-to-follow categories, which means you can take this advice and integrate it into your designs right now.
So read on and take these expert tips to heart. Soon you’ll not only be well on your way to avoiding these major design mistakes, but you’ll also be one step closer to taking your project design prowess to the big leagues..
Disorganized is Distracting
The most common mistake our designers see is poor organization. Often, this means that your Piktocreations simply include too much stuff.
If you try to force too much content, data, and information into a small space, you can end up with a mess.This can result in an infographic that is cluttered. As a result, your presentation can be too complicated to follow and to comprehend.
When it comes to organization, the two common issues our designers identified were a lack of whitespace and jumbled visuals.
Let’s tackle the first issue. Without the proper amount of whitespace, our designers warn that your design can lack a clear focus point. As a result, there is no “flow” from one item to the next, and that can make your ideas and thought process hard to follow.
If this sounds like a problem you’ve run into, you’re not alone. Our designers have plenty of tips to help you avoid these organizational faux pas.
First, it’s important to understand the concept of “whitespace”. Whitespace isn’t just the white area on your screen or printed sheet. It’s representative of the space between your elements (or the negative space) that is free of text, logos, photos, and other design elements.
When properly managed, whitespace gives the viewer a clearer idea of where to direct his or her attention. It improves legibility, direction, and sets the tone for a well-managed, thought-out presentation.
Remember this: Simplicity is key. Your goal should be to deliver the basics of your message and little else. Identify your main points and the goal you wish to achieve. Then use images instead of words to get those points across.
Now let’s deal with the second issue: alignment. Creations with text overlaid on complex, busy backgrounds can complicate and confuse your message. The results is an infographic that appears to have been simply thrown together with almost no attention to alignment or structure.
When designing, you should always check (and then double-check) your alignment. A big part of managing white space is organization, and alignment plays a key role in this. Proper alignment lets your viewer know that you’re someone who pays close attention to detail.
Of course, you don’t have to guess at proper alignment. Our editor has a tool for that! Simply use the “snap to grid” feature to align your items to an “invisible” grid within your creations.
Once you’ve followed those steps, you’ll notice two things. First, you’ll see orange lines appear when you move an object around your canvas. These represent the “grid” that will help you align your objects.
Second, you’ll notice that once a design element gets close to one of these orange lines, it will “snap” to it and be ever-so-slightly less willing to move away from them. This will prevent your images from being just a little bit off (in the most annoying, “I can tell something’s wrong here” kind of way).
The next big mistake that our designers often notice is the mismanagement of colors. This is a topic we’ve talked about a great deal in our post about color schemes.
To summarize, there are a few main points to keep in mind when designing your Piktocreation. First, stick to two main colors. If you absolutely can’t, or if your branding uses more, don’t use more than four. We’re aiming to find beauty in simplicity, remember?
Second, make sure your colors are complimentary. That means they will go together in a visually pleasing way. Looking for an easy tool that will help you discern which colors work best together? Achieving harmony doesn’t have to be a guessing game. Many members of our design team trust Coolors as their go-to color scheme generator.
Third, if you’re tempted to use more than four colors, try shades instead. Using a lighter blue or a richer green might give you the depth you seek without adding too much complexity or confusion.
Once you’ve put together a beautiful palette using Coolors, head over to Color Schemer Online and experiment with the “Lighten Scheme” and “Darken Scheme” buttons. See if any of the hues grab your attention and introduce shades of colors you’re already using instead of adding an entirely new color into the mix. Your viewers will thank you for it!
Expert tip: One of the great things about both of the tools our team has recommended is that they give you the color’s hex values. Having these makes it MUCH easier to replicate the color you want in different places around the internet.
You can use the hex codes to pull your colors into Piktochart, too. To change the color of your background or an individual design element, look for the paint bucket with a drip:
Clicking the color chooser button in the toolbar will allow you to pick from our basic color palette or input the hex values from the scheme you put together on Coolors or Color Schemer.
The last mistake (but certainly not the least) our designers identified is the poor implementation of design elements like fonts and photos. Outside of your arrangement and color choices, these are some of the main building blocks of your creation, so it pays to ensure that you’re handling them correctly.
As with color choice, we’ve talked about picking the right fonts before. As a quick reminder, the two main things you should remember are:
- Pair your font with your topic; and
- Keep the number of fonts to a minimum.
Much like the dress code for a party helps to set its mood, the type of font you choose essentially sets the ‘dress code’ for the content you create. Font types help inform the user about the nature of content you’re sharing. Essentially, they let your user know what to expect. Is the content you’re sharing creative or a little more serious? Make sure to set the right mood and choose your fonts accordingly.
When working with fonts, you also will want to limit the number of typefaces (like Helvetica or Menlo) and the type variations (like bold, italicized, or different-sized fonts of the same family). Using no more than two different typeface or four type variations should allow you to be creative without complicating your design.
Speaking of size, let’s chat about photos. Our designers warn that it’s important to keep your images and icons the same relative dimensions. Using elements that aren’t to scale can lead the viewer’s eyes and attention in the wrong direction or put emphasis in the wrong places.
If you’re looking to add a little more flair, our designer Maxi suggests using a vector mask (like Marta talked about in Hack #16 in this post) over some of your images to round the corners or make them into shapes. This will give your presentation or poster a little more character than if you were only using squares and rectangles.
You should also take advantage of our selection of photo frames when adding an image to your design. Without context or visual separation, photos can look out of place. As our designer Mok likes to say, such photos appear to come “from another dimension”. This isn’t always the case with photos, but it’s something to be aware of when you place them on your template.
Improving your design skills while avoiding the biggest pitfalls really is that simple. We’re willing to be you’re already feeling like more of a design genius! Want to know what other tricks our designers have up their sleeves? Leave a comment about the biggest design obstacles you face with your Piktocreations. We’re here to help you design better, faster and with more confidence!
And if you think you’re up to it, here’s a quiz we worked on with our friends over at Typeform that will give you a quick review of what we just covered in the post. Let us know how you did down in the comments!