Bad design is easy. In fact, just to prove my point, it took me less than 5minutes to create the title graphic (I won’t even glorify it by calling it “typography”) for this post. But so many people make things and think they are designers. If you want to be a designer and have your work be respected by others, you will never be able to take the easy way out. Easy is almost never associated with good. The nicest restaurants, the most beautiful homes, the high end automobile; these things were not designed easily but with care and precision. Good design is no different. But bad design is easy…
It’s easy to grab Comic Sans from the top of your system fonts list because it looks “fun” or “friendly”, Hobo because it look’s “retro”, or Times New Roman cause it’s something you know. It’s harder to research fonts and find something that is unique and interesting.
It’s easy to choose colors for your design based off of what you like or what appeals to you instead of taking into consideration color theory and how the psychology of color might influence your viewer.
It’s easy to use clip art or photos behind a “logo” or throw a drop shadow on text. It’s more difficult to figure out how to make text readable and have hierarchy without using crazy text effects.
It’s easy to be quick and sloppy with your text layout and image placement. It’s much more time consuming to plan out your layout and
It’s easy to think you already know everything to be good at what you do and you don’t care to keep up with the industry. You don’t know what’s trendy or classic and you fail to learn new things. Its not so easy to keep learning and listening to others to try to make your work better.
It’s easy to start working directly on the computer instead of sketching out ideas and working through things that are worth investing more time in. This always results in a lack of direction and a lost design.
It’s easy to throw together content haphazardly with no hierarchy. It ends up hard to read or understand and is usually cluttered. Instead of using design math and subtracting until nothing can be taken away, bad design is always “lacking something”. It’s easy to try adding things, it takes much more skill to know what you can remove and have the design still communicate the way it should.
Its easy to create something without knowledge of typography. When text is stretched or manipulated, kerning is poor, or typefaces are poorly chosen it’s easy to see the amateur.
It’s easy to copy someone else’s work. Knowing how to take inspiration from multiple sources and make something all your own is much more involved (but so rewarding).
It’s easy to create something without appropriate tools or software. Whether it’s a logo made in Microsoft Word or a book layout done in Photoshop.
It’s really easy to be is generic & unoriginal. It uses the excuse that whatever imagery or fonts were used were appropriate because “everyone knows them and they’re recognizable”. Recognizability does not equal quality.
It’s easy to give a client a design without knowing why you did the things you did. It’s much more difficult to explain your reasons for your design decisions.
It’s not easy to read all of these things and decide to change if any of them apply to you. But I promise that if you try to be better, you will be.
Bad design is easy. Just as with every other area in life, good design is not easy. Keep in mind that these things are not meant to mock up and coming designers. I hope that it helps those new designers by reminding them the things they should avoid. I can only hope that these things will also let those of you out there who think that what designers do is easy see that it’s only easy if it’s terrible design. Design is a wonderful world, I hope you’ll join me here. Because design matters.
Sea is actually my given middle name. I believe that my name has helped to shape who I am as a person and as a creative. It makes me unique and gives me a desire to create interesting and brilliant design solutions for my clients. Independent Creative Director, Graphic Designer, Typophile, Brand Strategist, Business Owner, Writer, Photographer, Professor.
View all posts by brandisea