Did you know that bad graphic design could cost your business significantly? Trust, reputation, and dollars – the essential things to build your business – are at stake if you have bad graphic design. Whether it’s on your website, merchandise, print marketing materials, social media channels, or products – bad design can ruin your chances of bringing in customers.

Most online entrepreneurs start off with bad graphic design. We all have to start somewhere. But just as you invest in your website or your training in your niche, you need to invest in better graphic design to continue to scale your business and monetize your content.

What are the most significant ways bad graphic design can jeopardize your success? Here’s our list of the top five.

1. Destroys Your First Impression

Whether they realize it or not, that first look matters. A potential customer will take one glance at your website or print materials and decide whether you are credible or not. They will make split-second judgments about how professional you are, how trustworthy you are, how qualified you are, and how well you fit their needs. Unfortunately, this first glance rarely includes your smiling face or firm handshake. Most people will go to websites or social media platforms to investigate a business or company before ever making contact. So what does your first impression tell potential customers? Will they know within 3 seconds whether they want to hire you or not? Will they instantly connect with your brand identity and decide they like your company more than your competition? If you’re not sure, it’s time to take a deeper look at your graphic design. This post will include a list of the most offputting design errors down below, so you can see what you’re doing wrong.

It’s very common for beginner entrepreneurs and business startups to try doing their own graphic design. It seems easier to do everything yourself or keep it in-house. Whether through YouTube tutorials or your friend’s son who has a knack for computers, these methods do not achieve a professional-quality result. If your graphic design looks amateur, potential customers will think your business is amateur.

Don’t let bad design ruin your reputation! That first impression is worth its weight in gold because it can make all the difference between whether a high-paying client chooses you or someone else. People absolutely judge a book by its cover, so let your cover tell the whole story!

2. It’s Impossible to Establish Your Identity

What do you want your first impression to communicate? Your graphics, colors, fonts, and logo help potential customers capture your brand identity with one glance. They will know who you are, what sets you apart, and what you offer. However, with bad design, it can be challenging to communicate your identity without spelling it out. Bad graphic design works against you.

Some graphics might confuse a customer because your aesthetic is basic/neutral and doesn’t communicate anything about who you are. On the other hand, your graphics might communicate something opposite your identity. As a result, potential customers may leave your website thinking you’re something you aren’t. In this way, bad graphic design is dangerous. There are plenty of things online to distract people from your website – so don’t let it be your graphics!

3. Misrepresents You

Bad graphic design can give people entirely the wrong impression about who you are and what you do. Your goal with a logo, website header, brochure, or webpage design is to tell people what to expect from you. If your graphics give them the wrong impression, it can lead to problematic customer interactions if they’re expecting something different from what you do best.

If an educator has comic sans as the font on their website, people might assume they are a teacher for elementary grades rather than adults because of the juvenile tone of the font. Whether a yoga teacher uses neon colors or pastels will cause their customers to question what kind of teacher they are and whether they emphasize relaxation or cardio. If you own a construction company and your logo includes a skyscraper, people who need help with minor home construction might never call. These graphic design elements can help or hurt you, and it’s your job to find an expert that will help you find the difference.

4. Disproves your Credibility

There are many elements that entrepreneurs utilize to prove their credibility. They may include their educational background, job history, or credentials in their bio. They might list trusted websites their work or product has been featured on. They may include testimonials or reviews. And the goal is that their website aesthetic and design presence agrees with each of these.

However, amateur-looking graphics can make even the most convinced customer doubt your expertise. Like one bad review can make people doubt dozens of good reviews, bad design can make people wonder if you’re actually as professional or qualified as you say. This will lead to customer interactions where you’re left having to prove yourself repeatedly. You don’t want that!

Instead, good graphic design can work together with all these elements to make you stand out as the expert in your niche. People will enter into each interaction, convinced you are the best person to go to and clamoring for your time because they’re sure there’s a line. If they’re confident that you’re the best, or your products are the best, they will tell their friends. And in an age of social media where a post like that can go viral overnight, I’ve seen entire product lines sold out from one convincing “word-of-mouth” testimonial. So good graphic design can contribute to convincing people you’re the best, which can give you more success than you realized.

5. Communicates Unprofessionalism

Professionalism matters. It’s all about how people perceive you. They want to know they can trust you, that you’re dependable, and you will deliver what they paid for. Even if your business practices are up to par, your graphics might cause them to doubt. Though this applies to every industry, it’s especially true for copywriters, coaches, bloggers, marketers, or anyone within the digital content space. Even though you don’t need to be good at graphic design to excel in writing or coaching, people will still view your graphics as an example of the quality of your services.

People online don’t necessarily understand that your graphics require skills you may not personally possess. Instead, they see the look of your website or business card, and they make assumptions about the quality of your work. Your aesthetic should ease these fears because it’s top-quality and professional, just like you!

Why Your Graphics are Offputting

Bad Colors

An out-of-date color palette or bad color combination can give people a bad taste in their mouth, even if they can’t put a finger on why. Bad colors give a terrible impression.

Messy Lines

If your lines are messy or your graphics don’t look clean, it gives an impression of hasty last-minute work or unprofessionalism.

Cluttered Appearance

People get visually overstimulated if your graphics are too cluttered or have too many overlapping elements. This will confuse them about your identity, and they may click off your site because it’s overwhelming.

Doesn’t Match Your Brand

If the words on the page say something different than your graphics communicate, your brand identity will come off as disjointed and disconnected. As a result, people may not understand who you are or what you offer.

Seems Unoriginal

If your graphics seem too basic or look like another popular brand, it will leave a bad taste in their mouths because it looks like you’re copying something that’s already been done. Not only that, but they may confuse the identity of another brand with your brand identity.

How to Avoid All These Mistakes

If you don’t want the bad graphic design to cost your business, it’s best to find an expert to help get it right the first time. This will save you hours of frustration, and the money you spend will be more than repaid as your business grows. Without this, poor color choices, homegrown logos, and amataur layouts will all slowly errode your credibility. Even if customers aren’t thinking it’s a bad design, there is something about it they wont like.

As you work with a professional, it’s essential to communicate your vision clearly. Check out our other posts on this page to learn what you need to know to establish your brand identity. As you communicate with your designer, it’s also important to trust their process. Let them do what they do best so that your website doesn’t fall into the trap of bad graphic design. Here are a few tips to remember as you go through this process:

  • Trust their professional judgment
  • Be clear on what you want
  • Communicate your brand identity plainly
  • Be flexible with exact details
  • Be specific about what you do/don’t like
  • Be open to their feedback and willing to embrace changes
  • Let them do what they do best

Ultimately, working with an expert is a collaborative process. There might be elements on your wishlist that will work against your ultimate goal. A graphic designer will be able to tell you if you’re asking for bad colors or graphics that confuse your brand identity. As you work with an expert, you’ll be able to avoid altogether these top five mistakes that will cost your business. Now, your design can help your business grow like never before!

Since aesthetics mean so much to today’s generation of consumers, even the most low-tech entrepreneur could use a few design tips. We’ve got you covered. As a graphic design company with over 50 years of combined experience designing websites and graphics for entrepreneurs and business owners, we know what it takes to keep up with today’s trends. These are our top ten tips to keep your graphics looking clean and professional in today’s marketplace.

1. Keep It Simple

People often believe that graphics need to be complex to look professional. This simply isn’t true. Keeping your designs minimalistic makes them easier to use in a variety of contexts while maintaining that clean crisp look that draws the eye. Think about the simple shapes, lines, colors, and fonts that your favorite brands use. How can you replicate that simplicity for your brand identity? Stay away from complicated overlays, photographs, and unreadable text or colors that will distract people from who you are and what you offer.

2. Be Consistent with Colors and Fonts

If you could summarize your brand identity in just a few words, what would you say? Is your brand modern, adventurous, rustic, or colorful? Identifying some key adjectives surrounding your identity will help you stay consistent throughout your web presence and print materials. If you run an accounting firm, you probably don’t want to use a childlike crayon font. If you own a sporting goods brand, you want to stay away from scrolling cursive fonts. The same holds true for colors. If you’re marketing to young women, rustic browns probably won’t communicate your identity effectively. Similarly, A baby clothing brand might want to avoid harsh neons. Whatever tone you choose for your branding – be consistent across the board.

3. Don’t Use Too Many Graphics or Icons

When it comes to promoting your company, it’s easy to get overly excited. You could fill a vision board with graphics that fit with your company’s vision. But be careful! If you use too many, people get visually overwhelmed and can’t make sense of what they’re looking at. For a logo, just use one image concept. Don’t try to combine too many or it will no longer make sense. On
your website, keep it simple. You can add some images or graphics that help set the tone, but don’t fill every square inch. People need negative space and simplicity so they keep scrolling and want to learn more.

4. Use Script Fonts Sparingly (and never in all caps)

We like to play around with fancy fonts. It’s just fun. But when you’re establishing a brand identity, you need to prioritize readability. If customers can’t read the words you post, it’s going to be pretty hard to connect with them. One of the most notoriously hard to read font styles is script fonts. These are the fonts that look like handwriting or cursive. They are often thin and have a lot of extra curly wisps at the ends of letters and sentences. Use these fonts very sparingly, if at all. This is not the type of font that you want to use for your main website copy or slogan. And if you use a script font, never use it in all capital letters. These fonts weren’t designed to be in all caps, and it often makes them even harder to read. If you’re using a script font for a main title or heading, make sure you don’t play too much with the letter spacing or distance. This can make it look awkward and minimize the handwriting effect that you were aiming for to begin with.

5. Have Someone Other Than You Critique Your Work

We are our own worst critics, but sometimes we’re also our own worst enablers. We know how much work and passion went into a project, so sometimes it is hard for us to see the flaws that exist. Getting an extra pair of eyes to look at your work and give feedback can help you see your website or brand through a newcomer’s eyes. Maybe the colors you used don’t fit the vibe. Or maybe it’s harder to read the fonts than you realized. Getting an outside opinion can help you cover all your bases so you don’t run into problems later on.

6. Make a Folder of Logos or Brands You Love

Especially when you’re just establishing your brand or going through a rebranding process, it’s easy to get lost in the details. If you find yourself overwhelmed with all the options for colors or fonts to use, take a break. Spend a few minutes collecting the logos, shapes, and colors used by your favorite brands and put them all in one folder. Then spend some time looking them over together. What common themes do you see? Are there similar color schemes? Do they use a similar font design? Are there specific lines or shapes among the logos? This exercise will help you cut through the overwhelming amount of options to identify what you like and what elements your eye is drawn to.

7. Don’t Feel Obligated to Use a Friend of a Friend

If your friend’s son is going to school for graphic design, you shouldn’t feel automatically obligated to use him. This is your professional brand and the quality matters. It’s easy to take shortcuts or cut costs, but you usually get what you pay for. You don’t want your brand to lose credibility with your customers because it looks like an amateur did it. When you’re seeking help
to establish your brand identity and get professional assistance designing your logo, do your research. Look at the portfolio of past projects a designer has done and see if they align with your vision. Find someone who you are confident can deliver the professional results that you want as an established business owner with a reputable brand.

8. Don’t Do It Yourself

Unless you have training in graphic design, trying to achieve your vision by yourself will only result in stress and frustration. It’s easy to have a picture in your head of what you want, but without the skills to achieve it, it’s hard to make your vision a reality without help. As an entrepreneur, your driven can-do attitude has gotten you far. There’s a lot that you’ve done on your own. But graphic design doesn’t need to be just another item on your to-do list to make you feel overwhelmed. All of the best entrepreneurs have learned how and when to delegate or outsource complex tasks. Instead of spending dozens of hours frustrated at your computer, let a designer spend a couple of hours doing it for you. They have the skills to make your vision a reality in just a few clicks!

9. Spend Your Money Where It Counts

As an entrepreneur, you have to prioritize. You have a limited budget and a seemingly unlimited list of things you could spend it on. So how do you decide where to allocate those funds? Prioritize the items that will draw in more patrons and convert them to paying customers. A logo is often the first impression that people have of your brand. If it’s amateur-looking and clunky, they could click off your website without giving it a second glance. If there’s money to be spent drawing in customers, a professional logo design will be one of your greatest assets.

10. Hire a Graphic Designer

Once you’ve thought through all the elements that draw your eye, what colors you prefer, and what tone your brand portrays, hiring a graphic designer is the easiest way to upgrade your web presence almost instantly. There are tons of branding professionals and social media managers that can help with the upkeep once you establish your brand, but you should start with a solid logo and brand guide. A graphic designer can help you get started. Instead of spending the next ten months dreaming of what you want, why not hire a designer today and take real achievable steps towards your goals? As an entrepreneur, making feasible plans to move towards your vision will help you keep building momentum for your business. Turn that vision into a reality by working directly with a designer to receive a logo you can use on all of your web pages, social media posts and merchandise for years to come!

As graphic design professionals, we’ve seen people fall into the same pitfalls over and over. To help you avoid repeating these same mistakes, we compiled this top ten list to give you the easiest next steps to take. Follow these 10 tips and your business can be booming with customers who love your eye-catching brand. Instead of presenting amateur designs and clunky colors that make potential customers doubt your credentials, you can show up every day with graphics that build their trust and increase their confidence. As you navigate the tricky obstacles of running a business and establishing a reputable online presence, let us keep the graphic design process easy so you can focus on the things that matter most! If you have questions about how to get started with a designer, click here.