Cardinal Sins of Design

Articles August 10, 2014

What do you consider as the “cardinal sin” of design?

According to the latest “Adobe New Creatives Report (June 2014)“, over-designing or not knowing when to quit was considered as the “cardinal sin” of design. Cardinal sin meaning the worst offense possible in the digital age.

This is based on an online survey of more than 1,000 U.S. creative professionals. These professionals, whether employed, self-employed or freelancers, work in a creative industry (graphic designers, web designers, photographers, illustrator, et cetera).

Let us talk about the results of what new creatives consider as the cardinal sin of design. As someone who chose a creative career, do you agree with the verdict? Most of it did not come as a surprise and only reinforced something that we, as designers, already know and believe in.

Distracting motion graphics 7%

Motion graphics must attract and not distract attention. Some flash websites have many distracting use of mograph and doesn’t adhere to the principles of design. More often than not, moving text/graphics may lead the viewer to be distracted rather than enhance the design.

Bad typography (spacing, kerning, over use of fonts) 7%

Using these typefaces:
banner1
BANNER2
banner3
Horizontally/vertically stretched text elements.

banner4
Improper kerning.

keming_4603

Overusing drop shadow effect and the bevel tool.

BANNER10_2
BANNER10

Design density or lack of negative space 7%

“If you can do it with less, then do it.” The more dense a design is, the harder it is to understand. Create contrast in density and rhythm.

 

(via http://blog.kissmetrics.com/website-design-bottom-line/)

(via http://blog.kissmetrics.com/website-design-bottom-line/)

Bad stock photography 8%

This refers to irrelevant or completely unusable stock photos. Never put an image in your design just because you like it. When searching for images, always keep in mind the purpose of what you’re about to design.

 

(via http://www.scgpr.com/41-stories/how-to-pick-blog-images)

(via http://www.scgpr.com/41-stories/how-to-pick-blog-images)

Crowdsourcing 8%

Two words – generic design. Most of the time, crowdsourcing simply leads to similar design concepts. Read “Your Guide to the Generic Logo” to know more about the cons of crowdsourcing.

generic

Disjointed look and feel across platforms 9%
Harmony – Most of the elements in your design should match. They should all be in the same style either you look at it as whole, or at each tiny detail.

 

(via http://thornleyfallis.ca/cma-general-council-look-and-feel/)

(via http://thornleyfallis.ca/cma-general-council-look-and-feel/)

Amateur video footage/editing/production 10%

Poor lighting and audio, shaky footage, too much zooming or panning, and lack of cutaways, alternative angles, and framing are just some characteristics of an amateur video production.


Using trends/fads regardless of whether they solve a design problem 19%

“Ignore fashion.” Don’t design in a certain style just because it’s IN and you think it’s fashionable. Remember that good design transcends time.

OVER-DESIGNING/NOT KNOWING WHEN TO QUIT 24%

You don’t need to put a handful of elements in your design as long as you were able to communicate your idea. Stick to the purpose and the concept. Putting too many shapes, details and effects won’t matter if they take away the message for your audience.

 

(via http://smashinghub.com/10-ultimate-usability-guidelines-for-web-designers.htm)

(via http://smashinghub.com/10-ultimate-usability-guidelines-for-web-designers.htm)

Wrap up:
OVER-DESIGNING/NOT KNOWING WHEN TO QUIT 24%
Using trends/fads regardless of whether they solve a design problem 19%
Amateur video footage/editing/production 10%
Disjointed look and feel across platforms 9%
Crowdsourcing 8%
Bad stock photography 8%
Design density or lack of negative space 7%
Bad typography (spacing, kerning, over use of fonts) 7%
Distracting motion graphics 7%

The ultimate goal of design is to communicate and for it to be effective, you must have a plan. However awesome something looks doesn’t matter if it has no clear message.

What other cardinal sins of design do you have in mind? Feel free to share them through the comments box below.

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Sources:
What Separates Amateur Video from a Professional Production? | Direct Impact Media
Rules of Design by Sarah Stellwag on Prezi

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Gian (@gpbbautista) is a multimedia designer from Manila, Philippines. He specializes in graphic design, illustration, photography and interactive authoring. See his works on Behance or Tumblr.

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  • Nicholas Mann

    Went to a local farmers market and the most I saw was bad typography (especially Comic Sans) and over designing. A lot of their services and products are great though, but it’s sad they are plagued design sins.

  • tamagoyorokobi

    Great article! Bad typography is a big annoyance of mine.

    • http://gianbautista.tumblr.com Gian Bautista

      Thanks very much! :) “Bad typography” – couldn’t agree more.