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10 Things Graphic Designers Shouldn't Focus On

Graphic Design can be a lot of fun, but also incredibly stressful when we allow a lot of the nuances to drag us down and allow our focus to slip.

    1. Your First Idea

    Your first idea isn't usually your best.

    This can apply for the majority of things in life, but for design especially when you're trying to communicate a message well, don't steam ahead with your first idea.

    I'm not saying you can't come back to it - just make sure you're completely out of other ideas before you do.

    2. The Client's Wants

    Now, while you need to make sure you acknowledge what your client wants, you also need to understand that it may not be what they need.

    As a Graphic Designer, you're tasked with communicating a message. How you choose to communicate that message is important and at times, you may only need to tweak existing work rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.

    3. Kerning and Leading

    The spacing between lines and letters doesn't matter nearly as much as you think it does. In fact, the general public won't even notice if there is too much space between a 'V' and an 'A'.

    This is designing for designers and unless that's who you're aiming at, don't bother.

    4. Colour

    Don't go straight for colour in the hope that it will improve your design - it won't.

    Colour is meant to enhance, not carry.

    If the only thing that improves your design is your choice of colour, it's a rubbish design.

    5. Software

    Focusing on the software is always a mistake, anyone can learn to use the Adobe suite, the thing that makes you great is learning how to inject your own style, personality or opinion into your work and still get the message across for your clients.

    You don't always have to snap to guides or even use a grid - the optical centre of an object will always look more balanced than the actual centre.

    Oh but please, always use a vector program if you're designing logos - you'll save yourself a lot of pain when it a client requests it to be made 3x bigger.

    6. Trends

    Trends will always be coming in and out of style, but focusing on them is a mistake that a lot of designers can fall into.

    If your style is similar to a trend and that's what you've been hired for, then go for it. If, on the other hand, you are simply using a style because it's the 'in' thing to do. Take a step back and realise that you're hindering your client rather than helping.

    Focus on the idea and give them a style and design that will stand up over time.

    7. Typography

    We get it, you want to use that stencil style to get across the fact you're promoting some kind of army inspired design, or perhaps you want to use a swirly script font for your valentine's design.

    While typography is important, focusing on the font you're using is a sure way of drowning in choices and never being able to make the correct one.

    As James Victore says "Nobody cares how it looks, if what you say is dumb".

    I could go on and on about typography, but in short - pick a few fonts that you like and become practiced with them, you don't need the 1000s you've got stored in your font management software.

    8. Technology

    Graphic Design is the communication of ideas - specifically your ideas.

    You don't need to rely on technology for this. You simply have to look at what you have to say and decide how that looks.

    Easy? No - but it also means you're not paying $1000s to Adobe to use their latest AI tricks.

    9. Drop-Shadows, Glows and Other Tricks

    I'm more guilty of this than I would like to admit.

    If you're having to use drop-shadows, glows or other tricks from a pull-down menu to get communication across, you're not doing your job.

    Move the type, change the image or edit the layout.

    Nobody likes a lazy designer.

    10. The Rules

    Use more than 3 fonts in a project, don't use a grid, put red and green together...

    These are all things you can do and still make fantastic pieces of design, all you need is the courage to do it... And an understanding of those rules.

    In short - learn the rules so you can break them.

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