5 scary design mistakes to avoid

5 scary design mistakes to avoid

5 scary design mistakes to avoid

1. Poor legibility

This means text lines that are too long (use max 60–70 characters), dense blocks of words in small size and blocks with too little leading (the space between). Also, having text aligned centrally, or justified (especially in large amounts) can present problems for readers too. Note that left-aligned text is always easier to read, especially for those with visual impairment or where English is a second language. Equally, any copy should always be displayed using good contrast from the background. It doesn’t necessarily have to be dark on light but careful consideration should always be given when any text is used on a darker background. Note also, the difference between how electronic and physical print delivery displays too. Print generally requires more contrast to show any variation between shades or tints.

2. Too many fonts used or unsuitable combinations of style

Unless carefully handled, too many fonts can mean that the design has a disorganised, unprofessional look. A decent rule of thumb is to stick to two. Remember, certain fonts might have additional weights (or thicknesses) and these can be used to help add variety without the same consequence.  All too often, lazy stereotypical font choices are applied to designs, with the same display font used again and again. This reduces the impact and can, in some instances also make it harder to read. On other occasions, it’s simply that personal choice has overruled common sense. For example, a loose, light handwritten style would most likely not be the first choice for a serious financial institution.

3. Ignoring or failing to incorporate any visual hierarchy rules

Hierarchy is a key graphic design principle. It communicates with the viewer the importance of each element to those around it. Think carefully about the order that any titles, subtitles, blocks of text need to be read. Is the correct message presented? The size, weight and colour all play their part, as does the space allowed around any elements.

4. The placing of any elements within the design

With proper alignment (and this doesn’t necessarily mean total symmetry), an order or balance can be created that helps to hold a design together. If this is missing, products or material can look messy, disorganised and as we’ve mentioned before unprofessional. There will always be examples that appear to break the rules but these are usually produced by skilled practitioners and normally there’s still a (hidden) system at work. By using an underlying grid, quality control can be maintained whilst still allowing scope for creativity. Think about magazines and newspapers. These need to be produced to strict deadlines yet still manage to include layout variety.

5. Failing to communicate effectively

Even trained designers can be guilty of this. It’s easy to get caught up and create a design that loses sight of the audience that it’s intended for. Making it appeal to our tastes or preferences rather than focusing on how the item needs to be used is a mistake. Additionally, this can also lead to any criticism of the design, being taken personally rather than objectively. A decent rule of thumb is to keep things simple.

Photo by Kaboompics.com from Pexels

5 + 7 =

Beating stress with exercise and nutrition

Beating stress with exercise and nutrition

Beating stress with exercise and nutrition.

It’s easy to become overly focused on work and as a result, ignore warning signs over your health. By supporting your body with good nutrition and some exercise, you’re more likely to feel stronger and as a result, more resilient to any stress you may be experiencing.

It may only take a small change to improve mood, increase energy, and generally help you to feel back on top of your game.

One of these changes should be to make time for some exercise. Aerobic exercise in particular, but any activity that raises your heart rate and makes you sweat can be an excellent way to lift mood, increase energy, sharpen your focus, and relax both the mind and body. The rhythmic movement experienced whilst walking briskly or running, for example, can be especially soothing for the nervous system. To ensure the best results, ideally you should try to get at least 30 minutes of some type of activity per day but of course, it might be easier to break this up into shorter chunks.

It’s not just taking regular exercise that helps. The food choices we make can have a massive impact on how we feel and by eating smaller, more frequent nutritious meals, a more even level of blood sugar can be maintained. This, in turn, helps to ensure energy levels and focus. Low blood sugar, on the other hand, can lead you to feel anxious and irritable and of course, eating too much can make you lethargic. Hardly productive.

Some key points to consider

  • Reduce the amounts of refined sugars and processed foods – whilst they can deliver a quick uplift, equally the crash comes just as fast.
  • Eat more foods that contain Omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, raw nuts and seeds (considering any allergies naturally).
  • Smoking when you’re feeling stressed may seem calming, but nicotine is a stimulant of course which leads to higher, not lower, levels of anxiety. It’s a similar story with caffeine I’m afraid.
  • Alcohol can perhaps seem like it’s temporarily reducing your worries, but too much can cause anxiety as it wears off and negatively affect your mood. There is also the tendency to snack or make bad food choices and this can mean reaching for sugary or savoury foods more likely.




Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay
Extracted and rewritten from an original article Stress in the Workplace by Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Robert Segal, M.A. (helpguide.org, June 2019)
Tips for writing better emails

Tips for writing better emails

Tips for writing better emails

With an estimated 247 billion* emails sent daily and the average UK worker receiving at least 121** of those, improving the chance of being read is paramount. Even if those emails are required to be read, ensuring that they follow best practise can help create exactly the right impression.

Below are nine tips to help yours make the cut rather than the basket.

  • Send emails Tuesday morning (10–11 am).
  • Personalised subject line – shorter the better (many viewed on phone) – between 6–10 words.
  • Be absolutely clear and keep it short – we scan emails for detail quickly.
  • Don’t use the word “just” – it downplays the importance of the task.
  • Avoid the use of emoji’s in business emails – questions about (work) competence.
  • Email étiqueté depends on the country – eg South America like pleasantries first/Germany prefer simple and to the point. Silence or not replying is taken as a sign of respect in South East Asia.
  • If email is really short put it in the subject line and add EOM (End of Message) at the end.
  • If you don’t require a reply add NNTR (No need to reply).

The BBC recently made a short video outlining these (and other) key points.


*Jeremy Taylor, 20 Email Marketing Statistics for UK Businesses, constantcontact.com

**campaignmonitor.com, The Shocking Truth About How Many Emails Are Sent,  March 2019


Who ya gonna call?

Who ya gonna call?

Where to turn


With the number of potential sources of influence out there, cutting through the voices can be a real problem. Which approach might work best requires both experience and an understanding of the operating markets and client behaviour. Where you turn for information and how often is essential. This article asks some prominent designers the very question… 


Is there such a thing as too much inspiration?