Serif in Education

8 common mistakes designers make which can be used as a self-help guide for students

Following on from last’s weeks theme of making mistakes (which, let’s face it, we all do from time to time!), here are some examples of what mistakes students might make while using the Serif Design Suite and how they can learn from them. Feel free to share these with your students before undertaking any big creative computing tasks! (We took inspiration from an article posted on CreativeBloq in March – read the full article here:

1. Not understanding the brief

Reading the brief very carefully is important as otherwise, a lot of time can be wasted working on ideas that might not be along the right lines. A good idea is to encourage children to brainstorm the brief before they start working on the actual project, and then to revisit the brief once again after the brainstorm, to make 100% sure they are heading in the right direction. On the flip side, a well written brief is crucial to the success of the project, so make sure you proofread yours too ladies and gents!

2. Font overload

Although its fun to try out new fonts, using too many can make work look amateur, and it’s also confusing to the viewer. CreativeBlog suggest as a general rule that you try to stick to two different fonts and use the different font weights to differentiate and highlight areas.

3. Using too many stock images

This applies to clip art too. Encourage students to take their own photos, to edit them in PhotoPlus and then build up their own library to use across other Serif programs. This will enhance the individuality of their work. There is nothing worse than using an image and then seeing that someone else has used it too!

4. Failing to proofread

Often, students get so wrapped in the design of their projects that they forget to focus on the text, and web pages or presentations are littered with spelling mistakes. Our programmes are geared up for speedy spell checking which removes the need for painstakingly going through each sentence one by one. WebPlus offers full site proofing tools including a spell check, image optimizer and download time estimator.

5. Not considering context

This means making sure things look good on different devices, on different screens, or even when printed. Whether you’re designing an icon, a logo or any other design element, these days you’ll need to make sure it’s transferrable across a range of different mediums. WebPlus caters for this with its intuitive layout, enabling students to create both desktop and mobile sites, and to set up mobile device detection on their site to consider their end user. Compatible with all the latest formats including MP4 and QuickTime®, WebPlus enables pupils to add video and multimedia to their site which they can view and test on any device.

6. Copying other people’s designs

It doesn’t hurt to share other people’s designs – we all need to gather inspiration from the things around us! But discourage students from just copying by removing that inspiration when it comes to them creating their final pieces of work. If you’ve printed out examples, either keep them on your desk for students to refer to (don’t let them work directly from them) or remove them completely once the brief has been discussed.

7. Poor use of QR codes

QR codes are now really popular and can be effective when used properly. But that’s often not the case. I can think of so many times when I’ve seen QR codes used in the wrong way – on a train advert that is positioned so high above our heads we can’t reach it, or on an exhibition stand printed so huge that you’d have to stand hundreds of metres away just to capture it on your mobile device! CreativeBlog make some great points – think about where the QR code is going to appear; for example, will it be easy to scan? (If it’s on the side of a moving vehicle, the answer is no!) Will your target audience need internet reception to decode it? (They won’t have any, for example, on the London Underground.) As with all design, with QR codes it’s all about context.

8. Missing the point of design

I am going to quote what was written in the CreativeBloq article here, as I think it hits the nail on the head: Perhaps the biggest mistake you can make as a designer is to miss the entire point of design itself. As Steve Fisher of Yellow Pencil puts succinctly, “design” is often confused with “decoration”, but it’s actually about responding to problems. Once you get your head round that, everyone else should follow…