7 Design Mistakes Made by Small Business Owners


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by Desmund Ullrich

April 28, 2020 10 min read

Pop Culture Geek | Content Strategist | Marketing Manager

As a small business owner or urban entrepreneur we typically have to wear all the hats. Though most advice teaches us to outsource, it’s not always feasible when starting from nothing. In this case, it is your responsibility to learn from both your mistakes and the mistakes of others to get ahead. The list below covers 6 design mistakes that business owners, typically non-designers, make when creating visual content for their business.

Here we give you 7, but if you want to avoid others you can also check out the video below.

1. Business owners are TOO WORDY. 

One of the most common mistakes made by business owners is their use of words over visuals. Whether it is a presentation, proposal, or social media ad - stick to what is essential and try to communicate with visual elements. This will help the viewer focus on what you are trying to communicate and not miss your sales message.

2. Business owners create images that are hard to read.

Your message is not readable with specialty fonts or too many long lines of text. Try to keep messages within 50-60 characters per line, similar to those punchline tweets. Keep paragraphs short with no more than three “tweets” of text.

Bad Font Choices

3. Business owners use too many FONTS.

Though we mentioned this in number two, remember specialty fonts should not be used in your paragraphs, these fonts are made for titles and headlines. There is a big science to using fonts known as typography. The first lesson of typography is limiting one body of work to no more than two or three fonts. A simple way to avoid this mistake is to vary the same font by making it bigger or bolder rather than a new font altogether.

4. Business owners forget about color harmony.

Though you may love the combination of purple and gold, or want to echo the design of the Lakers - think about how your color speaks to your customer. Colors evoke many thoughts, feelings, and actions, make sure you are choosing color combinations that help readability and grab the viewer’s eye.


5. They also forget about spacing. 

Negative space in particular - business owners may often be motivated by getting the “best bang for their buck". This often leaves ads overcrowded when they should leave room for their words and images to breath. Leaving this space also improves readability and helps your reader find what it is you want them to see. Don't be a dick lover, unless that's your aim.

6. They miss the concept of placement.

Items are usually laid out in a mysterious alignment that only the business owner understands, this is most often seen on websites where images and text are forced in rather than working with the template. A good rule of thumb is to keep everything aligned center, left, or right - this alignment should be followed with all related elements.

7. Lastly, business owners always place text where it can’t be read.

I happen to see this done more than any of the other mistakes on the list. Business owners tend to place text over busy backgrounds or match the background color too closely.

As you can see many of these "mistakes" require no technical knowledge or graphic design know-how to avoid. However, if you have design questions or need an honest opinion on a design before you commit feel free to reach out to us. We will offer a review of your work, free of charge.




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