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The designs DON'Ts

And now for the design deadly Sins...

No cowboys

Do not work with cheap cowboys

If you've been offered a wonderfully cheap design quote, ask yourself one question - Why ?

Sadly, it is truly amazing just how many small businesses underestimate the importance of graphic design to promote themselves and their products or services. Creating quality graphic design work in business is often viewed as a nicety - alright if you have the spare time and money, but not really necessary if you can get someone cheap to do the job quickly. In the short term that viewpoint may seem justified, but long term is another matter entirely

When considering providing resources to promote a product or service, the question should not be whether you can afford to have the design work done properly (if at all) - but rather, can you afford not to do so?

Cutting corners by using cheap, unqualified designers who do not know what they are doing will cause long term damage as your image and credibility may slowly slip away. Quality graphic design items are essential in promoting and maintaining the right kind of image you wish to portray to people without you actually being there in person to sell your wares

Customers will judge your company by what they see, so remember that first impressions count and do last a long time. Get it right and you can build customer confidence as well as trust in your products, gain high staff moral and create credibility in your industry sector. Get it wrong and you risk both staff and customers alike seeing your company as unprofessional. They will then drift elsewhere, as you scratch your head wondering what went wrong

In short, if in doubt - get designers to do the designing. That's what they (we) do best

Not local newspapers, printers, telephone directories, sales people, marketing departments or Dave from Accounts. They may be wonderful at their jobs, but are they really qualified to start drawing up concept layouts that leave the image and reputation of your business in their hands ? Would you trust an electrician to fit your boiler ?

We say : leave the electrics to the electricians, the plumbing to the plumbers, the printing to the printers... and the graphic designing to the graphic designers ! (.. preferably Chameleon)

If you absolutely, positively have to create your own design work, it may help to consider the following...

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Do not overkill a good design piece

If something is simple, effective and works well then leave it alone. Adding unnecessary clutter can detract from the message you are trying to put across, which in turn will leave people confused, frustrated and annoyed. Always step back from your creation and think : "Is everything I have including within this design entirely necessary and is there anything I can do to make it more streamline ?"

You do not need drop shadows on type, fancy underlines or decorative borders. Stick to simple fonts with minimum fuss and remember that people need to be able to read your texts quickly, without squinting

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Do not use tacky typefaces, the really do look awful

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Do not use clip-art

Clip-art is evil and must be purged. In our opinion, only about 5% of clip-art is even vaguely intelligent enough to be used in a quality piece of design work. Most clip-art is naff, tacky, cheap, badly designed and just looks hideous. It often degrades work to such a low level that design work incorporating clip-art in any way, shape or form can make it look put together by a chimpanzee with a laptop and the latest desktop publishing software

Do not use it. Ever

Ok, so admittedly we have done above, but only as a demonstration of what not to do !

We should point out at this stage that at Chameleon, we tend to differentiate between clip-art illustrations and stock photography. Stock photography can be fine to use on occasion, but again we feel that only about 20% of stock photography is actually worth considering when creating professionally designed artwork

Do try to be original in creating your pieces. It is difficult to be totally original 100% of the time, but do try. So many ideas, designs and layouts have been created over the past few decades that true originality is becoming a very rare thing indeed. Avoid reaching for the stock libraries, favour instead working from your own imagination

In fact there is the odd placement of stock photography contained within the Chameleon website, but these have been carefully selected for their relevance, content, style and overall look. Do not dive in and randomly place stock images everywhere without due care and attention

Think first - Are they relevant and do they create the right image ?

The kinds of clip-art we hate the most are illustrations of cliché (some may say cheesy) images of people shaking hands, patting each on the back and other such shallow concepts. If illustrations are needed, then employ a professional illustrator straight away who knows what they are doing and has the right ideas

At Chameleon, we are certainly not against using illustrations in our design work. We are against the kinds of tacky illustrations found in cheap clip-art libraries usually stuck to the front of monthly PC magazines. Such libraries usually contain tens of thousands of naff illustrations and tacky typefaces to boot. Is is often most amusing to see images of American-style plumbers shown in British local telephone directory small ads sections. Why do it ?

Always create original, stylish and intelligent design work as much as possible

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