5 mistakes web designers are making

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Kelly Erickson Dec 3, 2013

Designer-MistakesIf you’ve been around as long as we have, you’ve seen it all. Sure, mistakes do happen, but these are the tips that make the difference between an amateur and a professional web designer.

5) Spelling errors

We’ve seen it happen over and over again: Spelling errors. It’s been as bad as spelling the client’s name wrong in the mockup – big no-no. But it all comes from one major issue with many graphic designers, and that issue is pure laziness. Graphic designers are creative, but they are also extremely detail oriented. It’s the kind of job that requires you to think through EVERY single moment, every step of the project, and a spelling error just makes you look unprofessional, untrustworthy and unreliable.

Tip: Photoshop has spell check. Use it!

4) Grids & Guidelines

Did you think after high school or college you’d never use math again? Graphic design is chock-full of math – from picas and pixels to press sizes and book signatures. With website design, it’s just as challenging, especially when it comes to image resolution and pixel alignment. And with the glorious advent of responsive web design, things get even trickier when building your flexible website on top of a 960 grid. This is where the marriage of web designers and web programmers is so very important for the success of a website.

Tip: Use the 960 gs while thinking ahead with the design – the design has to be flexible in order to be responsive.

3) Old-fashioned and unimaginative

In just a few years, coding innovation has brought us a long way; gone are the days of flash websites, static designs, and separate mobile sites. The graphic design community is one that is tight-knit, supportive, and always inspiring. By supporting each other by sharing tricks, techniques, and trends, we help each other innovate and avoid antiquated designs, like the L-shaped web layout of yore.

Tip: Join and be active on creative/graphic design groups on LinkedIn and Google+ and other social media circles. We highly recommend signing up for email lists like Kernspiracy if you’re in the Los Angeles area.

2) Not using web-friendly fonts

Typically the only ones who break this rule are new and/or inexperienced when it comes to web design. An easy fix – sure! But only if you’re okay with disappointing your client, who had their hearts set on that specialty font, and the end result looks nothing like the mock-up.

Tip: Always stick to the standard web fonts for your paragraph text, and when you want to get fancy for headlines, navigation and/or banner text, take advantage of Google fonts and/or Font Squirrel fonts (most of which are free to use!).

1) Using the wrong program

This is the number one worst rule graphic designers can break. Every website designer has his or her way of doing things, but using the wrong program can really complicate and lengthen the process. Our in-house strict guidelines for our freelance web designers make sure everyone is on the same page, but occasionally we do run into web page files built in the wrong program, like using Illustrator to build a website, or even CorelDraw (gasp!).

Photoshop is not only the industry standard, these days it’s the most effective. Building a website mockup in Photoshop means programmers can easily slice objects, resize items for perfect resolution, and lay out the web design in a 960 grid system. Rasterized images can be edited in a snap, and it is so much easier to use vector shapes, smart objects, multiple layers, groups and subgroups, and more in Photoshop these days. In Illustrator there are file linking and embedding issues, text layout restrictions and not to mention problems with proper sizing and resolutions.

Tip: Without writing a whole book on all our secrets, just remember this: Rule numero uno is… do NOT use Illustrator to build a website or even a single web page!

Full infographic after the jump!


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