9 Design Mistakes to Avoid in a Corporate Setting

9 Design Mistakes to Avoid in a Corporate Setting

One of my favourite Steve Jobs quotes is “You’ve baked a really lovely cake, but then you’ve used dog sh!% for frosting”. Sounds unappealing right? This is the perfect analogy for poor design. Many people create valuable content but spend very little time crafting its design. Don’t fall into this trap. If you have a report or presentation coming up, make sure you consider the following:

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1. Font

Choosing the right font is the first step to good design. Two fonts that will make your content a sure-fire disaster are Comic Sans and Papyrus. You can find out more about which fonts I recommend in my blog, The Psychology of Typography.

2. Proofreading

We’ve all had it happen. You get to the podium as you are about to present a very important client presentation, or you are just handing your report over to your boss and you notice a glaring spelling mistake. Not only is this embarrassing, but it is also extremely distracting for the viewer. Good design and good grammar go hand-in-hand.

3. Fearing white space

When there is too much text or too many images on a page, your content will get lost. Less is always more in design.

4. Using too many tricks

Tricks include drop shadows, outer glows and colourful text, among others. If you must, pick only one and use it in a consistent manner. When used sparingly, these can draw attention tastefully. Too many look unprofessional and actually divert attention from what you may be trying to emphasise.

5. Lack of hierarchy

You can establish hierarchy by varying text size, using different fonts for your headings and body text (two maximum), underlining, bolding, and using colour. Using variation organises your content for your audience.

6. Too many colours

Subtlety is key when using colour, especially in a corporate setting. If you are using colour, it is recommended you stick to your brand’s colours and only those. To find out more about how to use colour, read my blog Picking the right colour for your story.

7. Wrong justification

In general, centring body text is a bad idea. Left justification is most valuable for legibility while full justification is valuable for page composition. Other forms of justification are generally not useful in corporate design.

8. Using the wrong resolution for your photos

Photos can make a presentation or paper dynamic and give the viewer a break from large amounts of text. However, too often photos are included at the wrong resolution which actually  creates the opposite effect. They make the paper or presentation less appealing and engaging. A general rule for photos is that they should be cropped to fit the area they cover and their resolution should be 300 dpi for printing and 72 dpi for web use. If all this photo talk sounds foreign, check out my blog Jpegs, gifs and vectors, oh my.

9. Forgetting your audience

If you are presenting for an older demographic, using small text will probably not get the information across. You may have created a successful hierarchy, but your hard work will be lost if your audience cannot read the text. Audience is an important factor to consider when designing.


Each week a staff member puts pen to paper to write about an aspect of content communication that speaks to them, and hopefully, informs you. This is a space where our passion for writing, learning and sharing information comes to shine.

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