I want to share some of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my design career. Through trial and error, I’ve learned valuable lessons that have helped me create designs that look great and function effectively. From neglecting accessibility to ignoring feedback, I’ve made plenty of missteps along the way. But by sharing these mistakes with you, I hope to help you avoid them and create designs that truly resonate with your audience. So, let’s dive in and explore some common design pitfalls together.
Mistake #1: Not putting the user’s needs first
When I started as a designer, I was more concerned with making something look cool than with whether it was usable for the end user. When I received user feedback, I realized how important it was to design with the user’s needs in mind.
Here are three key questions you can ask to better understand your users and create a more effective design.
- What is the main goal of your website?
- Who is your target audience?
- What are the key features and functionalities you require for your website?
Lesson learned: Always start with the user. Ask questions, conduct user research, and prioritize the user’s needs in every design decision.
Mistake #2: Overcomplicating the Design
When it comes to design, it’s easy to get carried away with elaborate layouts and intricate details. But sometimes, less is more. I learned this lesson the hard way while working on a client’s website. I spent hours creating a complex layout with multiple sections and elements. When I presented it to the client, they needed help with the design. From this experience, I learned the importance of keeping things simple. A clean, minimalist design can be just as effective as a complex one, if not more so. By focusing on the essentials and eliminating unnecessary elements, you can create a design that is easy to understand and navigate.
Lesson learned: Keep it simple. Focus on creating a clear and intuitive user interface that is easy for users to navigate and understand.
Mistake #3: Ignoring Negative Space
Negative space, also known as white space, is the empty space around and between elements in a design. It’s easy to overlook this space and try to fill every inch with content and design elements. But negative space is just as important as the content itself. It helps to create a sense of balance and harmony in the design and allows the content to stand out. I made this mistake early on in my design career, creating cluttered and overwhelming designs. But as I learned more about the importance of negative space, I began to incorporate it into my designs. I could make more visually appealing and effective designs by giving content room to breathe and creating a sense of balance.
Mistake #4: Using Too Many Fonts
Fonts are essential to the design, but it’s easy to get carried away with too many fonts. Using too many fonts can make a design look unprofessional and cluttered, confusing the user. I learned this lesson while working on a client’s project. I selected a variety of fonts that worked well together. Still, when I presented the design to the client, they were overwhelmed by the number of fonts used. This experience taught me the importance of using up to two or three fonts in a design. By using fewer fonts, you can create a cohesive, more visually appealing design that is easier to read.
Mistake #5: Neglecting User Experience
As designers, it’s easy to get caught up in the aesthetics of a design. We want it to look good and make a statement. But aesthetics aren’t everything. User experience (UX) is just as necessary, if not more so. When designing a website, app, or product, it’s crucial to consider how users will interact with it. Is it easy to navigate? Is the information organized logically? Are the buttons and links easy to find and use? In the past, I’ve made the mistake of focusing too much on the visuals and neglecting the user experience. I would create designs that looked great on paper but were frustrating and confusing to use in practice. This led to unhappy clients and hurt my reputation as a designer.
I’ve learned to prioritize the user experience in my designs to avoid this mistake. I ask myself: How can I make this easier for the user? How can I guide them towards their goal more effectively? By putting the user first and designing with their needs in mind, I’ve been able to create designs that not only look great but also function effectively.
With each mistake, I've learned valuable lessons that have helped me grow and improve as a designer.
Mistake #6: Forgetting About Accessibility
Accessibility is a crucial aspect of design that is often overlooked. It’s essential to design with everyone in mind, including those with disabilities. This includes considerations such as font size and colour contrast for those with visual impairments and ensuring that the design is navigable and usable for those with physical disabilities. Early on in my design career, I was guilty of neglecting accessibility in my designs. I would focus solely on aesthetics and assume that the design would work for everyone. But as I learned more about accessibility, I realized the importance of designing for all users. Now, I always keep accessibility in mind when designing. I use clear and legible fonts with adequate colour contrast and ensure the design is navigable with keyboard-only navigation. By designing with accessibility in mind, I can create inclusive and effective designs for all users.
Mistake #7: Ignoring Feedback
As designers, we can get attached to our designs and become defensive when someone critiques them. But feedback is crucial to improving and growing as a designer. It’s essential to listen to positive and negative feedback and use it to improve future designs. In the past, I’ve made the mistake of ignoring feedback from clients and users. I assumed that my design was perfect and that any criticism was unfounded. But as I received more feedback, I began to realize the value of listening to other’s perspectives. By taking their feedback into account, I improved my designs and created better experiences for users. As a designer, I’ve made plenty of mistakes over the years. But with each mistake, I’ve learned valuable lessons that have helped me grow and improve. By sharing my experiences with you, I hope to help you avoid these same mistakes and improve your own designs.
Remember to keep your designs simple, incorporate negative space, use a limited number of fonts, prioritize user experience and accessibility, and listen to feedback. By doing so, you’ll be on your way to creating designs that not only look great but also serve their purpose effectively. Happy designing!
As a UI/UX designer, I’ve made plenty of mistakes over the years. But with each mistake, I’ve learned valuable lessons that have helped me become a better designer. The key is to approach each project with an open mind and a willingness to learn. Take the time to research, ask questions, and seek feedback from users and other designers. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It’s all part of the learning process.
So go ahead, make mistakes, learn, and grow as a designer.