I firmly believe that everyone has the natural ability to recognise a balanced design project that works well (no matter if this is a logo, a leaflet or a website) from an unclear, messy, amateur one.
Just… some people will analyse what they are looking at, and be able to tell what puts them off about it, while others will just have a general negative feeling by mere instinct.
If you are part of this second category of people, especially if you need to hire a designer every now and then, here is a guide for you to get a clearer view of what that negative feeling is generated by, and make you able to recognise a professionally designed product when you are looking for someone to design your new website.
Look for space and margins
A professional designer cannot be scared of empty spaces, they are necessary for readability and style. If the product you are looking at is cluttered with borders, backgrounds and unnecessary images then, it’s a scam!
Beware of designs which use more than three different fonts; fonts are an important choice for a project, if there are too many, that choice has probably not been made at all. Must of all: BEWARE OF COMIC SANS!!
Colours transmit feelings, so there are appropriate and inappropriate colours for different kinds of products. You wouldn’t make a funeral director sign in pink, or a tanning studio one in freezing cold grey, would you? Also, whatever the project is, colours need to reflect the owner’s company brand. For example if your logo is blue and orange, your leaflet and website should have those as leading colours, in the very same shade, so that your customers will recognise your company and create mental connections.
Beware of text sitting right on pictures, so that the picture is spoiled and in many cases the text cannot be clearly read.
Finally a professional designer will never ever stretch a picture without respecting proportions.
If you see that what you are looking at has squashed all the people so that they look like Snow-White’s dwarves, or that the moon is not round any more, but has turned into an egg, well… Just drop in the bin!