How to avoid overdesign

An important skill for designers besides HOW to design is to know when to STOP designing. Everyone gets caught up in their project at hand wanting to have the perfect outcome and before you know it, your design can start to look like you will be the only person to understand its purpose. Learning not to over design takes practice and communication. The happy medium of design comes with experience throughout your design career. “Less is more” rings true throughout the design world and should be a phrase that hangs over every designer’s head. Trying to incorporate too many ideas or design elements can leave you with a cluttered design that has lost its initial function. It can be easy to overdesign without even knowing you’re doing it. There are many tips and tricks of the trade to help designers become aware of overdesigning before their concepts crash and burn. Here are a few to keep in mind:


  •  Have a plan & don’t second-guess yourself

Know exactly how much time you have to get a project done. Having a clear plan of action can help the function of your design. It can be easy to second-guess yourself, especially if it is a new project or new client you are designing for. Remember to always go back to your proposal brief and review exactly what your client is asking for. If you come to the conclusion that YES! your design is achieving what the client wants, send it off and wait for feedback.

  • Enlist a second set of eyes

Take a step back and take a break. When you have been consistently staring at a project and tirelessly working, it is nice to have someone else take a look. They might spot something you missed or give you constructive feedback. You as a designer can also be your own second set of eyes if you pull yourself out of the design process for a period of time and return to your design with a fresh mind. You will probably find yourself eliminating aspects rather than adding more.

  •  Consider each elements purpose

After taking a step back from your design it can be helpful to take some time and consider each element’s purpose. Does that color palette represent the brand? Do those lines actually break up the content? It is important to consider the purpose of each element in your design since if you can not justify its purpose it may be necessary to hit that delete button.

  • Create more than one version

Options, options, options. Whether it is a logo, web graphic or poster, more than one option can ensure a good outcome. Having multiple versions is very important when it comes to client work! It is better to see what elements work and what better way to visually notice in two designs than cramming every idea into one design. Trust me, it will not look cohesive. Your vision will come across cleaner from two versions than one cluttered one.

  • Always keep your goal in mind Know your audience and the purpose of the design.

Written by Erin Riley