A man showing his hands

Don’t Do These 5 Dirty Design Deeds

Design is a series of decisions. When you know enough to make good decisions, everything you design looks better. And it’s not hard. Anyone can do it, even you!

Maybe it’s because I’m such a visual person, but I see a lot of really bad design decisions out there. I’m ready to call them what they are: dirty design deeds.

They’re cheap and they’re easy to abuse. You can avoid them once you know what they are.

In recognition of these dirty deeds, I’ve created a Please Stop list. If you’re using these techniques, please stop. Now.

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Share This E-Book With Your Friends

An Ebook with 10 quick design tips

how to make a brand successful by avoiding 10 design mistakesThis week I’m kicking off a campaign to spread the word about the Big Brand System, and I’d love it if you’d help me.

To make it easy, I’m going to give you a gift you can send to someone who might be interested in learning how to polish up their business marketing materials.

Just send them my free e-book “10 Design Mistakes that Make Your Business Look Dumb,” or send them to this page to download it for themselves.

It’s a fast-reading guide to ten mistakes people should avoid when creating marketing materials for their small businesses.

I’m not asking for anything in exchange — no e-mail address or any kind of registration. It’s free for you to distribute as you’d like.

Please share it on Facebook, Twitter, and any place else you’d like. Because everyone deserves to have great-looking, effective marketing materials for their business!

Download the ebook

A hand against squeezing a stress ball a little too much

Please Don’t Squeeze the Letters

Remember the commercial whose tagline was “Please Don’t Squeeze the Charmin?” The premise was that Charmin toilet paper was so soft, customers couldn’t resist squeezing it every chance they got.

The same thing happens with typefaces. People can’t resist electronically “squeezing” and “stretching” letters to make them taller or wider. Don’t do it. Here’s why:

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A close up of a ginger cat wearing a pair of shades

Design Bloopers | Would You Donate to an Unreadable Cause?

how to make a brand look professional with marketing materials that communicate your message across
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This piece came in the mail a while back and I saved it to my design bloopers folder to share with you.

I am sad to say it was soliciting donations for a college design program. (Details have been obscured to protect the innocent).

Maybe they’re using reverse psychology. When they sent out a piece like this, maybe what they were really trying to say is, “support our design program, because clearly we have a lot to learn.”

(In fairness, I think the piece was done by a student. I would be embarrassed to share some of my student work. I’ve created plenty of bloopers over the years, too. Sometimes you have to learn the hard way!)

In the spirit of learning, let’s talk about why it doesn’t work.

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A group of chess pawns forming a circle and casting their shadows

Design Bloopers: Only the Shadow Knows

I can spot it a mile away, and after this post, I hope you can, too. It’s the mark of an amateur who is dabbling in design. What gives them away?

They lurk in the (drop) shadows.

Drop that shadow, and take your hands off that mouse!

Drop shadows are one of those graphic “tricks” that people are drawn to like moths to a light bulb. The downside of drop shadows is that they give type or objects a fuzzy edge, and they make text very hard to read. There are a few very limited times when drop shadows can be useful, however.

It’s much easier to show you, so watch this quick video:

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A middle-aged woman that seems to have a headache

Design Bloopers: This Ad Gives Me A Headache

This post is about a major design blooper, and this one touches on typography.

Noticing design bloopers is one of my favorite pastimes! (Ask anyone who lives with me).

I especially enjoy seeing major corporations make massively expensive design mistakes: it’s a good reminder that good and bad design are within reach of all of us (and sometimes even the big guys reach for bad design).

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