Designers are humans. They commit mistakes too, but there are certain mistakes that a designer should do away with for it will greatly affect their name and reputation as a designer. Of course, you are making a living here and you would always want the best feedback from others especially from clients and prospective clients.

Today, we will share to you some common mistakes that you have to keep an eye on in order to avoid doing it. These mistakes sometimes makes one less of a professional designer. So, you better take note of it.

1.Failure to use a contract.

use a contract
Image: Photostock

In whatever business transactions, it is very necessary to have a contract. This gives an assurance to you and to your client that the things you have agreed will be followed for the duration of the project. Also, most of the clients insist to have a contract for it gives them more peace of mind. It guarantees both parties that you are both on the same track and everything is set in stone.

2.Failure to know your limits.

know your limits
Image: Freemax

It is a big mistake if you accept projects which you know you are not really good at. You should know your limits in everything. Aside from your skills, you should be able to give them a time duration which is doable for you. Avoid over committing yourself to a project, thus, giving false expectations for clients.

3.Failure to be always available on-line.

always available on-line
Image: EduardTitov

When you are working online and you have clients from the other side of the world, the only easy way to communicate is through the internet. Hence, you should always make yourself available so that you can easily answer them if they have questions and you could get updates from them regarding the project. There are times when your clients want to reach you and you have to be available always.

4.Failure to set own deadlines.

set own deadlines
Image: Simoendli

Your client has given you a deadline for the project. It is best to set your own deadline so that you can finish the project even before the given due date. That way, you still have enough time to check the details of the design and incorporate some stuff you’re client will ask. If you won’t set a deadline, there is a big chance that you’ll not hit the client’s deadline.

5.Failure to ask for a down payment.

down payment
Image: Z-monster

It doesn’t mean that money is all that matters to you but you are dealing with business here. You have to make sure that your client will continue working with you until you finish the project. You do not want to be spending a lot of time working on a project only to find out that your client doesn’t have the interest to continue it. So, it is important to ask for a donwpayment.

6.Following trends.

Following Trends
Image: Circle–of–fire

If you follow every design trend, you won’t be able to make your own name. It is not wrong to work according to the trend but you should limit yourself. Remember that trends are like passers-by, they come and go. So to ensure that you’ll always be on the limelight, make your own name in the your design field.

7.Taking criticisms personally.

Taking criticisms personally
Image: Photostock

In whatever we do, there will always be criticisms and it depends on us on how we will deal with it. Some designers are actually happy to get criticism for it is in this manner that they learn to develop and improve themselves as an artist. Just don’t take it personally. Look at the positive side and it will help you to be a better designer.

8.Failure to consider the message, the audience and the usage.

consider the message, the audience and the usage
Image: Chigmaroff

Of course, the purpose of a design is to convey a message. You should ask your client about what message they want to tell others. Also consider the audience. Ask if for what purpose the design is for and who the target audience are so that you can make a design suited to them. You also need to know the medium where your design will be used. You might make a logo which only looks good when used in a letter head but looks pixelated on a billboard. Know all the things and consider it when you make the design.

9.Usage of too many varieties of fonts.

varieties of fonts
Image: Mr-Lays

Some designers use a lot of different fonts for a single design. This makes the design look crowded and heavy to the eyes. It is also inappropriate to do that because you will look like a newbie for overusing fonts.

10.Usage of low resolution images.

file management software
Image: Herbstkind

Have you seen an image printed with a low resolution? It’s not pleasing to see, right? So always use a high resolution when working on a design. If your output won’t look good, it sure will boomerang to you and your client won’t like to work with you anymore.

11.Failure to save files frequently.

save files frequently
Image: DezusEx

This is something that some people usually forget to do. Sometimes, you are so occupied with work that you failed to save it. What will happen if your computer suddenly hangs up or a problem comes up unexpectedly? You’ll lose your design and all your hard work will be brought to nothing. So, while working, make it a habit to save it frequently.

12.Failure to backup files.

backup files
Image: Utopia2501

It is also important to backup your files so that when something happens to your computer, at least, you’ll have the peace of mind that you work can still be found in your external hard drive and you do not have to work on it again from the top. Back up files each day.

13.Failure to get enough sleep.

get enough sleep
Image: Graur razvan ionut

Most designers are workaholic and would always try to hit their own deadlines. Some may not even sleep in order to finish everything. But that is not healthy. Always get enough sleep so that you could work on your projects well. Never sacrifice your health for money.

14.Allowing design illiterate clients to lead you.

design illiterate clients to lead you
Image: Photostock

The customer could be always right but if a client doesn’t know anything about design and you allow him to lead you in everything, for sure you’ll be risking your name as a designer. So, instead of allowing your client to lead the way, consider some of their suggestions and make the design. Then explain things to him that if you did it his way, it won’t appear as pleasing as what you have. Clients will respect that knowing that you know more than them.

Many graphic designers could overlook the things mentioned above. Sometimes, because of being so meticulous, designers could not notice these little things anymore which can actually give a big impact. It is important for every one of us to protect our names and our company, so we would always do away with committing mistakes. We hope that this post will help you in your graphic design career.

Kareen Liez

About the author: A Civil Engineer who has a construction business and a youth volunteer for a civic organization. She also contributes for a local newspaper due to her unwavering passion to write.


  1. Oh, the 14.! That is the most difficult one to avoid, IMO …

  2. Number four is bull, obviously. ‘Always being available’ kinda conflicts with the getting-enough-sleep part doesn’t it? Part of being not only a great designer, programmer or whatever but also of being a great business is being able to set and communicate limits. Being unavailable for anything besides downtime or other very important messages is not a sign of weakness as a designer, it’s a sign of proper organization.

  3. I agree with Ronald Bien. That’s my problem too! But let’s see.

  4. #13 & #14, “GUILTY”. Thanks a lot man. This post really does help. One of my best.

  5. Gosh! All true.. Thanks Naldz for posting! 🙂

  6. I would say these rules applies almost to every kind of design: graphics, web, software, …

  7. Few pointers that I should really take action on..

    Can I add the be strict on pay day. There are some clients that do not pay within the deadline you have set. Try to be very punactual in this. You have delivered and now so should your client.

    Finance is no my strong point either, but things like this could make or break your business.

    1. Hi Frank..thank you for adding another tip on our list. You are right that designers should be strict when paying time comes. 🙂

      1. it would be a shame that you bankrupt just because you did not get payed (in time), even if you deliver top notch work.

  8. LOL, your post is interesting. Thanks for share it.

  9. 7 is is the most prominent in my exprience with freelancers. Most of the time it does not even fit the classic definition of “criticism”, just something I’d like to do differently, something I requested to do differently.

  10. Don’t forget #15 – Using tired, cliche stock photography

  11. I really like the 14th point… cheers!

  12. I’d say #12,13 and 14. haha. Very much guilty on that 😛

  13. Obviously, each of us commits different design mistakes! 😀 I am glad you liked this post…Thanks for reading.

  14. A very good post!
    Topics discussed here are the ones we usually have in the back of our minds but to express them with such clarity. .Thanks a ton..


  15. Nice article, these failures should be avoided for more perfect productivity, thanks..

  16. So true on so many fronts. I have been burnt so often I am embarrassed by not setting clear boundaries and formalising projects into contracts. I do it now, without fail and get all changes and briefs in writing. I often refuse jobs because I know it’s not my area of expertise and it will go pear-shaped if I take it on.
    I disagree with always being online, we need time boundaries in order to rest our creativity. No tree can flower 365 days of the year.
    The point that was most resonant with me was the letting illiterate clients control the job. I work with a lot of newbies to business branding and they are great at what they do, but beginners in branding. They assume that because they like something that their client will, but often its the totally wrong approach. I have to “sell” the solution, and remind them of the key message. It’s not about doggedly refusing to make revisions, rather, leading the client to understand why you are doing what you are doing. Sometimes, at the end of the day a designer has to let go and allow the client to make the mistake. The important thing to do is to make sure that the client understand that it is THEIR decision to go down the “wrong” path so that when it fails (and doesn’t have your name on it) they can come back and have a little more respect.
    9 times out of 10 though if a client is that stubborn to your ideas they will keep banging their head against a brick wall be they “know best”.
    I have had several clients in the past insist on certain non-workable solutions and I have had the “fire” them as a result so I didn’t look bad. They are still struggling to this day with crappy design, cheap approaches and poor sales.

  17. “Allowing design illiterate clients to lead you.” Been there. In the end no one is happy. It’s difficult sometimes to explain to clients what’s best for them, but in the end, if they are worth working with, they will appreciate it.

  18. the following are the mistakes i do :p
    1.Failure to use a contract.
    5.Failure to ask for a down payment.

    and that’s mainly because many of the projects are for friends or friends of friends, and it feels weird to ask them for contract (I feel as if I am telling them I do not trust you), the same applies for the second item (I do not trust you, or I am in debt…)

    I know it is my right, and I have been in deep shit because of this way of thinking so many times. But I have learned my lesson at last and hopefully I will separate business from my personal relations.

    As for this:
    13.Failure to get enough sleep.
    I believe we all have the same problem :p

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