April 18, 2022

Design has an impact on the lives of everyone, whether they are aware of it or not. From the website they’re using, to the coffee shop they’re visiting, and even the clothes they are wearing, the skill and work of designers has an immeasurable effect on our day-to-day lives. As we usually only see the finished results we tend to take the efforts of designers for granted, but the completed results come from a hard-earned skill that took multiple mistakes before it was perfected.

The time and effort that goes into making a good design doesn’t come without a learning curve, but many designers come to find that the mistakes they can make aren’t only limited to their craft, but to their field as well. With this in mind, we have outlined the most common mistakes designers make throughout the course of their career, and how to avoid making them.

Not Having a Portfolio

Having a portfolio is a key asset to every designer looking for work – it not only showcases your skills and talents, but can also attract potential clients. Avoid this rookie mistake by not only making sure you have a portfolio ready, but to consistently update it with your more recent work.

Displaying All Your Work Instead of Your *Best* Work

A lot of designers who are starting out might be intimidated by not having a lot of proof of experience, and are therefore tempted to include every design they’ve created in their portfolio. Remember: quality over quantity. Your portfolio should highlight your abilities, so only select work that you are proud of and best represents your brand.

Failing to Use a Contract

Contracts are an important part of building business relationships. If you are about to complete work for a client, make sure you nail out the details in writing. A legally binding contract can offers protection to both you and your client. It can also help prevent misunderstandings from occurring, as well as memorializing how and when you will be paid for your work.

Agreeing to an Unfair Wage

Unfortunately, a lot of people have little to no idea as to what goes into creating a good design, so they end up underfunding their design budget because they don’t understand the work and skill that’s required. By explaining to your clients why they should be paying your rates, you not only ensure that you are getting paid what you’re worth, but are also helping future designers get paid fairly too.

Forgetting Your Target Audience

Your individual approach to design is not always going to appeal to everyone, and it’s important to remember that that’s okay! Remember – a great design begins with being able to recognize who it’s for. Once a designer has distinguished who their ideal client is, the process of choosing the best elements for their design (whether it be the layout, typeface, color palette, etc.) becomes more straightforward.

Neglecting to Double-Check Your Work

Double-checking your work is a highly underrated skill – a small mistake can give the impression that your work is careless and rushed, or can even cause a company to experience loss in revenue. You should always double-check (or even triple-check!) for errors to ensure your work (whether it’s sending a quick confirmation email or submitting your completed design) is neat and correct. We recommend taking a quick break, then coming back and reviewing for errors, or even reaching out to another designer to review your work and give you feedback.


It is perfectly natural for designers to be influenced when viewing the work of other designers, but there is a stark difference between being inspired by another’s work versus copying someone else’s idea. While it’s possible to subconsciously replicate a design that already exists, potential clients want original work that is unique to their brand, so we recommend always doing your research to ensure that you aren’t stealing another designer’s unique concept. 

If you do use someone else’s design as inspiration, just remember to always credit the designer or seek appropriate permission as required!

Pushing Yourself Too Far/Taking on Too Much Work

A great design requires balance and skillful planning, and in a similar way, so do our own individual lives. People aren’t meant to handle long, stressful work-weeks, and designers are no exception. Simply put: working too much can have a negative effect on the quality of your work and your mental well-being, which can cause burnout. Finding a happy balance between work and life can be a little difficult, but it’s incredibly necessary. It’s important to set boundaries (such as ending your work for the day by a certain time, taking days off, or refusing to take on more clients) so that you are able to step away and rest.