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10 Things Designers Freaking Hate With a Passion

Creative Market March 31, 2021 · 6 min read
Being a designer is awesome. We get to make cool stuff in Photoshop and get paid for it. I think it’s pretty high on the list of cool ways to make a living. That being said, there are some things that tend to really bug us. And by that I mean they drive us insane and we tend to freak out a little when they come up. Here are ten such annoyances that I think will hit home with you.

1. Cliché, Overused Fonts

Everyone knows that designers hate ugly fonts, I’m looking at you Comic Sans and Papyrus. But sometimes, a perfectly good font is ruined because the whole dang world simply can’t stop using it on everything. When a font crosses that line from novel to cliché, you’ll know by the veins that pop out of designer’s foreheads when they see it.

Lobster Is The New Comic Sans

For me, a perfect example of this phenomenon is Lobster. I didn’t mind it one bit at first, but these days it’s everywhere I look. Restaurants, grocery stores, iPhone apps, universities, pre-schools, public restrooms, hospices, prison cells; you name it, Lobster has been there. I went searching on the web to see if others felt the same way I do, and found a lovely website called “Lobster Is the New Comic Sans,” which is every bit as awesome as its name implies. Here are a few samples they’ve pulled from the real world. designers-hate designers-hate

How About Helvetica?

Ahh, Helvetica. This is where designers disagree. Helvetica is the center of a fierce debate that has torn apart friendships, families, maybe even governments. I personally think a font has to be quirky, unique, and so easy to spot a child could do it, to cross that ugly cliché boundary. Helvetica is such a simple and mild-mannered sans-serif, I don’t mind it at all. That is until Gap tries to use it as their logo. No thanks. designers-hate

2. $5 Logo Designs

We now live in a world where you can get a “professionally-designed logo” for $5. How did this happen? Where did we go wrong? I blame you, Internet. designers-hate Honestly, I’m never one to jump on the “this is ruining the industry” bandwagon. I don’t think $5 logos ruin the industry, I just think you get what you pay for. If you have a real project with a serious budget, hire a seasoned designer. Otherwise, drop $5 on an auto-traced special.

3. Spec Work

The concept behind spec work is simple: you don’t know if I’m a good enough designer to do what you want done, so you’ll just have me do a bunch of free work as a test. How great is that for everyone involved? It’s like if you asked your dentist to fix a few cavities for free, just so you can judge her work against that of some other dentists you have lined up. Hey, you don’t want to waste your money, if she’s any good, she won’t mind proving it. You know, this scam is pretty awesome now that I think about it. I’m going to go try it at restaurants, barber shops, and IKEA. All that being said, some designers can take their loathing of spec work a bit too far… designers-hate Cartoon by one of my favorite illustrators, Brad Colbow

4. Working In Microsoft Word

The project is all set to go. You have a good grasp of the creative direction the clients wants to go, you’re feeling excited and full of ideas. The world is a good place. Then you get the email that every designer dreads. “Oh hey, yeah, I forgot to mention. We’re going to need all this done in a Microsoft Word Document. Thanks!” Now, your reaction may vary, but mine usually goes something like this: designers-hate

5. Making Things “Pop”

Listen, I’m a reasonable person. I can scale something up, make it more colorful, or more prominent. Heck, I’ll even put a drop shadow on it if you really force the issue. Just don’t ask me to make it pop. Seriously, if you have any respect for the design industry, you’ll never ask someone to make it pop again. designers-hate Awesome shirt design by UI Stencils

6. Working For “Exposure”

When you say, “we don’t have a budget per se, but it’ll be great exposure,” all a designer hears is, “I don’t have any money and expect you to starve your children while you devote your working hours to following my every whim without me providing a cent in return.” Sorry, “exposure” don’t pay the rent. designers-hate Comic via Cyanide and Happiness

7. Design By Committee

I had a client once tell me that his mom didn’t really get my design, his neighbor thought I needed to use a different font, and a girl from this class he was taking thought we needed different photos. That really happened. It’s tempting to think that bringing in a lot of diverse viewpoints and opinions will always make a design better. The unfortunately reality is that when you try to please everyone, you most often end up with a jumbled, disparate mess of ideas. designers-hate

8. Being Told To Copy Someone Else’s Work

As a writer, no client has ever asked me to commit plagiarism. No one says, “can you just write what this guy wrote?” As a designer though, clients are always saying things like, “we want our site to look just like this one” or even, “can you just grab the photos from their site?” designers-hate

9. Working For Friends and Family

If you’re friends with, or related to, a professional designer, and you need some design work done, do everyone a favor and simply ask for a referral. Because here’s how it’s going to play out: You’ll have high hopes for the project, but then you won’t like what they make and you’ll ask them to make “a few changes.” They’ll get offended because you don’t respect their time, you’ll get offended because they want to charge you for revisions, and in the end you’ll decide you’re not really on speaking terms anymore unless it’s a major holiday and external pressures force you to be in the same room. designers-hate

10. Their Own Work

This one is sad but true. Show any designer something they made a few years ago and you’re guaranteed to see some cringing and hear some excuses. designers-hate

What Drives You Nuts?

Now it’s your turn to vent. Leave a comment below and let us know what drives you crazy as a designer. Share the pain.

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  • Hahaha all of these are SO amazing. And I do remember using Lobster before it was overused. Sigh. 7 years ago
  • This is spot on. Spot. On. 7 years ago
  • So True... 7 years ago
  • THANK YOU x 1 Million for knowing that it's "cliché" not "clichéd" srsly. 7 years ago
  • Totally agree about the Lobster one. I loved that font when it first came out and apparently, so did everyone else. Now it sticks out like a sore thumb in any design. 7 years ago
  • I started laughing when I read the title, and was totally cracking up by the end. Thank you, I needed this today. 7 years ago
  • Comic Sans is the new Zapf Chancery (for you oldsters out there). 7 years ago
  • @Wayne Davis, I was just thinking the other day how much I loathe Zapf Chancery. Fingernails on a backboard - seriously. 7 years ago
  • Zapf Chancery was itself not a bad font, but (as with Comic Sans as the only "casual" font) it suffered the fate of horrendous overuse because it was the only "script-y" font in the basic installed set. It was literally bludgeoned to death, mercilessly slammed into places where it had no reason to be, and that misuse earned it the hatred of so many designers back in the day. Going back even further . . . back to the '70s . . . there is one name that still makes me shudder: Souvenir 7 years ago
  • @Wayne Davis, I think you are right that overuse was the problem with that one. I have huge respect for Herman Zapf, who I think is still around and well into his nineties. 7 years ago
  • Bebas Neue is the next Lobster guys ahah 7 years ago
  • @Jennifer Coyle I guess every good font is doomed to be overused. :D Awesome post, started my morning with a good laugh. 7 years ago
  • YES x 1 million! 7 years ago
  • I always set a timeline for projects. Every once in a while the client waits til the absolute last minute to give feedback, then complains that the project is overdue. Had enough of these that I've started adding due dates for client feedback with the stipulation that every extra day they take extends the due date by the same amount of time. This occurs so often that it's not a part of my contracts and I take time to outline and explain in meetings before any signatures or deposits are in place. Second to that is when you actually deliver a contract and hear back, "Why do I have to sign this? Don't you trust me?" 7 years ago
  • Wisdom font :-/ 7 years ago
  • That just about covers it! Thanks for the laugh 7 years ago
  • @Sonny Baccam Seriously, just two days ago I got asked to change the font I used to Bebas Neue 'a free font I can find over at 'x' website' . I screamed internally. I never had the opportunity to use Lobster for any of my projects, and then as soon as I saw it popping up everywhere I got sad and removed it from my library, haha. Lobster Two isn't so bad though. 7 years ago
  • I've run my own business for 8 years, and these two are the most HATEFUL!!! 1: when a client tells me they don't really know what they want, and they will "know it when they SEE it" that's just great instruction. And number 2: Badly Kerned text!!! There's nothing worse than seeing a beautiful Title or headline crying out in desperation because someone didn't kern a couple letters. 7 years ago
  • "I can't understand the concept from just a sketch, can you make a wireframe?", "Can you add more color to this wireframe?", "Can you make a rough mockup with a lot of detail?", "Can you just design it in html and css?". 7 years ago
  • So true, especially the Helvetica font . 7 years ago
  • My contracts include typefaces that the client must agree will never be used. I am not joking. 7 years ago
  • This is SO great. Love and can totally relate to every single one. Currently, my issue is my kids' school asking for pro bono work. "It's just a little flyer..." "Just a small logo for the school carnival..." "A quick little newsletter for the PTA..." And if I even hint at requesting compensation, they are quick to remind me that this is a school, they have a small budget, and "it would be a great way for you to contribute..." Guilt trip ahead, pack your bags. 7 years ago
  • Awesome post! 7 years ago
  • Bleeding Cowboys is my new irritant. Saw it on a popular band's Album art and got twitchy. 7 years ago
  • You know what I hate with a passion? The first line of this article. 'Being a designer is awesome. We get to make cool stuff in Photoshop and get paid for it.' I hate when people think that a designer is just someone who knows how to use a computer program. Why not say 'Being a designer is awesome. We get to help our clients communicate their big ideas to the world in a creative way' 7 years ago
  • Open Sans becoming the new Helvetica...nice font though! 7 years ago
  • I felt number 4 was speaking to me personally. 7 years ago
  • Actually had a client tell me they wanted to stick with every element we had in a banner the other day, just that they'd like me to "make it pop." Helpful. 7 years ago
  • Can you take this 10kb jpg and "blow it up" for my ad in a magazine?......Grrrrrr. 7 years ago
  • 'Make it sexyyy' 'Can you change the file name and send it back' 'Can you send me all your open files, we can do this ourselves' 'Can you export the brochure as a Word document' 'Make it look like Apple' 'Can we pay you in X' (where the X is the cash but their product or service that you REALLY don't need; mackerel, online dating subscriptions, golf balls?) 7 years ago
  • Designers Hipsters! Hipster logo design style I really hate it! I hate that hipster on pic for logo of 5$ service!!!! And Hipsters' Lobster font OMG NO! "Helvetica times" are behind us in 2015! If you're serious designer. 7 years ago
  • I HATE HATE HATE "I just want you to give my new logo that SOMETHING, you know?" 7 years ago
  • It´s not what font you use - it is how you use it. A cliche that really matters.The real problem is when you are creating a visual design for a big corporation or community with a lot of different individuals and/or creatives. They all have their own ideas and skills. And you really have to respect them and the fact that trying to find it inspirational for them to use you´re initially design, purpuse or choice. 7 years ago
  • I lost it on #6 7 years ago
  • So so true! The pop it is all jajajaja 7 years ago
  • I get the same twitchiness every time I see the font Jenna Sue used. 7 years ago
  • Being told to make a design with 'these images', and then getting several 15kb 200x200px images they got in a Google image search. Good luck explaining the concept of licenses for the 207th time.. 7 years ago
  • Funny enough I had this conversation with someone earlier today. All of it true!!! 7 years ago
  • I have the experience of Bleeding Cowboys popping up all over the place... The other day I saw a mobile air conditioning company use that for their logo and that same day at a local marketplace. The sign said that the gate should remain closed for the children's safety but it was written using Bleeding Cowboys. Hardly a week later there was a sign for a local dance venue that advertised a meal and a drink accompanied by dancing... The WHOLE advert was in Bleeding Cowboys... 7 years ago
  • Pure gold! So glad I am not alone! :) 7 years ago
  • When people think that it's fine to just put your work in a drawer again, and again, and again... 7 years ago
  • What Drives You Nuts? Wanting everything to stick out. Everything can't be the same size. Everything can't be the main focal point... Pick one! 7 years ago
  • This has been hilarious as it is so true. I also take issue with the introduction as being a designer is far more than designing cool things with Photoshop. 7 years ago
  • "Do you have a high res version of this photo? This is much to small for print." "No. Can't you just photoshop it?" 7 years ago
  • - I want my Photo on the header of the website. - Your fiends want to get muscles, look tanned or slim. - Make me a cool animated banner not more than 25 KB. - i sketched my idea for the logo can you make it in illustrator!! 7 years ago
  • an and when the client come and tell you: C'mon this will just take 5 minutes !! lol 7 years ago
  • We need a new Lobster! 7 years ago
  • I love the part about spec work with super example of dantist ))) 7 years ago
  • Add: Not getting paid on time. 7 years ago
  • For a while BASE 2 was THE go to Distressed font. Including on (Big budget) movie posters etc. 7 years ago
  • Yep, no. 8, definitely. It is always difficult try to do something that the customer wants at the same time try not to copy with design customer wants. 7 years ago
  • "Just come up with something." and write something oh 200 to 500 words. 7 years ago
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  • I cannot even put into words how much I despise the Bleeding Cowboys font!! 7 years ago
  • Aw, great stuff. Totally made me laugh. Def guilty of wanting things to "pop" more whether asked to do so or personal desire. I guess for me its more about creating more contrast for better visibility. 7 years ago
  • You got it so right in every point that I cannot add much more, I had a great laugh at your entry and then I cried as well... this is so unbelievably true.... Oh, yes, I will add a bit more: I hate when my husband says to a friend "My wife will make a design for you tomorrow".. I completely hate it... and I am supposed to make it for free because it is for a friend of my husband... my time, experience, knowledge and effort was made to be given away to everyone...for free. Luckily he has learned not to say that anymore... I just cross my fingers And another thing I absolutely can't stand: the "I want it for yesterday" phrase, damn! 7 years ago
  • My cousin asked me to do design & copy writing for her and 'keep track of all the design work' that she'd pay me for. I never saw a penny and she's conveniently forgotten she owes me because 'we're family'. Sigh.... 7 years ago
  • Spot on! Ugh! The free stuff with "exposure" is the one I hate the most. My most hated fonts: Hobo, Hercules, Fiesta, Courier, Optima, Futura XB, Brush Script, Bleeding Cowboy, Bookman & Tekton. There's actually about 20 more! Most hated logo design: Anything with a swoosh! I've seen about 30 logos with a blasted swoosh! Some have 2 or more swooshes! STOP IT! lol 7 years ago
  • I hate having my designs completely and utterly controlled by the client. Basically I become a Monkey and dance for them. 7 years ago
  • Bleeding Cowboys makes my eyes bleed. I hate it! Hate it!! 7 years ago
  • Great post. Thanks for making my evening. 7 years ago
  • Papyrus. The font no Indian Restaurant can ignore. 7 years ago
  • Laser light-accurately spot on me! XD especially no.3 and 6! 7 years ago
  • lol.. 7 years ago
  • Number 10 is myself.. Haha 7 years ago
  • Actually, I get told constantly at my job to "write what the other guy wrote." They force me to downright steal other peoples' photos and stuff all the time. So I'm betting that's fairly common. 7 years ago
  • Oh, they just kept getting better and better. Well done my friend, well done. 7 years ago
  • I'm new to this site and learned everything I know (almost) by the seat of my pants. This article was delightful and very true. These days anyone with a computer thinks they can be a "designer". They know nothing about copyright grabbing text and graphics off "the net" seems to be completely A-ok by them. I missed "Lobster" somehow and I'm not sorry. I like doing the work of making advertisements and publishing. This article hit many of the things that might have made me rip out my hair and gnash my teeth. 7 years ago
  • Good heavens! How about anything and everything pertaining to a wedding? 7 years ago
  • Sharing solid solutions to your client, but you end up in a cycle of "Yes, But...." 7 years ago
  • Hysterical now let me click the links on the top that takes me to the free goods, hacky fonts and $10 logos 7 years ago
  • I have a client that always says, "Make it poppy!" - ... she's a very nice client, so my reaction is usually, "No problem." I just make sure to make it tasteful. 7 years ago
  • 3,5,6,9. Yep. But I have learned from a few of these what not to do and the greatest is pull out the contract no matter who it is. If they don't like it then I've nipped it in the bud. ( Barnie Fife) 7 years ago
  • Ha ha! I also used Lobster before it went viral! Maybe we were all the starters of that snowball. All of these options are spot on! :) 7 years ago
  • I just love when a client tells you to "be creative!" We don't want something that is just lists and images... And then three weeks later you have an 82 page booklet of "lists and images...." 7 years ago
  • Well, I really hate animated gifs. And the overuse of Zapfino everywhere (I adore Hermann Zapf, really do, but I wouldn't mind seeing Zapfino banned from designer's type libraries...) 7 years ago
  • LOL! Brilliant - spot on, I'm smiling lots & could even be going pink as a 'Lobster' ;) thanks for lightening up the day :) 7 years ago
  • seriously that exposure thing, its really a pain. 7 years ago
  • Ahh isn't interesting how some fonts can withstand being 'overused' but others cannot? Futura Condensed never gets tired, but Copperplate did. Gotham seems to straddle a line like Garamond did in the 90s, likely overused but it likely will now just feel dated in a few years, just like all those rough handwriting fonts will be in 10 years. Dang, didn't use Lobster before it was overused.... 7 years ago
  • I recently sent a client a presentation of 10 logo designs (after getting a project deposit of course!), I didn't hear back for a few days, when I called the response was "I don't know" "I don't like them".... Haha 10 different logo designs by a designer with 20 years experience and "I don't like them" is all they were able to answer. I asked which one don't you like? there are 10, the answer was none. After letting them do a show and tell for 2 weeks, they came back and chose one. 7 years ago
  • "Jazz it up!" 7 years ago
  • I had a client tell me that the background I proposed to her looked like MENSTRUAL BLOOD and that she just couldn't see past it... I threw my mental hands up at that point and said, "Well, when you know what you want, call me." 7 years ago
  • Do you know what really drives me nuts? People that do not check their writing for typos! "The unfortunately reality is that" 7 years ago
  • Thanks a lot for sharing this. This really really made my day. 7 years ago
  • I'm not a graphic designer and I can see the hysterical in this. I do still love Papyrus. I'll never use it again, ever, pinkie promise. I do some of my own work, but no one should look at it. If you cannot afford good work when you start your business, then it should be first on your list when you get an inch into it. A gorgeous design says it all and is the reason I am paying a high fee for a good site. Not the cheapest either. You get the lowest bidder and you get what you deserve, imo. Keep the nice designs coming!!! 7 years ago
  • Luckily, having been a designer since the 80's (yes, still some of us dinosaurs lumbering about) no-one has dared mention Spec Work or "Exposure" to me anymore... but numbers 8 and 7 are becoming so frequent these last few years that I am seriously thinking it's time to quit. I am sick and tired of very young execs with client companies hinting that maybe I "don't know my job" because I tell them they can't just screen grab stuff from the internet and use free fonts labelled "Personal Use Only" on the products we are "designing". Because, as I am so frequently told "But you can use anything in the Public Domain"... groan. No matter that what you show them answers the brief and looks great, unless one of their rival companies has already done it, they simply don't have the instinct or courage of their own convictions to try something new... as a result everything is looking the same everywhere! I foresee a not too distant future where there will be only one font in use, maybe 3 sanctioned colours and a photo of a grumpy kitten - and that will be used for all occasions. Oooooohhh, and I used to get deadlines and have a work schedule... now it's always "can you do this ASAP, or "I promised this for a meeting", Ok, when is your meeting? "I'm just walking into the meeting right now"... might have exaggerated SLIGHTLY there. 7 years ago
  • Love this list, so true :) LOL Pet peeves are blowing up a ridiculously small web image for print and can we have those files editable so we can do stuff ourselves :( 7 years ago
  • "I will pay you not more than $50 for the logo you design for me. That is the same amount Nike paid for its logo. And they are huge." 7 years ago
  • "I like this photo (180x300px) found on google image. lets use it on a billboard..." 7 years ago
  • Great article!! Here's one for me: "feel free to have fun with this one." Run from that kind of fun, my friends. Run. 7 years ago
  • I hate lazily distressed fonts -- especially with double-letter words where it's super obvious. On a related note, thirsty is the new lobster. 6 years ago
  • Kerning. For sure. Having to explain to friends why you're so distressed by a sign, or poster, or album cover... also, great website design that is wasted on a really bad website. Web devs get a designer. Designers please don't use dreamweaver (or flash), you can do better! 6 years ago
  • :)))) I'll definitely buy a "Make it pop" t-shirt since this is the line I heard most often :) 6 years ago
  • I cant stand the word "rustic" - "please we want it to look rustic" most overused, hipster word this year! 6 years ago
  • The boss's secretary is suddenly in charge of the project and she doesn't understand why I can't just do the Teddy Bear idea the way she envisioned it in the first place. And I am a very difficult person to work with. 6 years ago
  • When a non-designer friend refers to a font by name you know it's time to strike it off your list. 6 years ago
  • My American chums use to say "make it pop" all the time, the British version is "can you jimmy it up a bit?" 6 years ago
  • Very very true!!! it's like the read thoughts ... 6 years ago
  • I had a client buy a $3000 iMac so they could do their own editing to a brochure I created in Illustrator. Because they saw that I had an iMac, they thought that's all they needed to avoid a $120.00 bill for me to make the amendments. Seriously people!! 6 years ago
  • Ab-so-freakin-lutely. 6 years ago
  • Yes, have experienced all of the above. I recently had a potential client ask me to design a logo for $300 and then said that her partner could get it for $100 using "off-shore" "designers". She then has the gall to post on Twitter that she supports local businesses. And for those old enough to remember other hates: (1) Clients who said to cut out logos from the Yellow Pages to use in ad artwork and (2) Pump 6 years ago
  • The irony in this post is that you assume you "make" stuff in Photoshop. If you "make" stuff in Photoshop, you're probably not a real graphic designer. 6 years ago
  • The pop thing just drives me nuts! 6 years ago
  • As a video editor, the word "just" always makes me cringe. "Just make it more..." "all you have to do is just make it..." Ugh. 6 years ago
  • I detest the A-word,which this writer used repeatedly. "AWESOME" is the "Comic Sans" of communication. Or the "Lobster." How can so many people, even professional writers, not realize that? 6 years ago
  • OMG BLEEDING COWBOYS. On every metal band, biker bar, western wear shop, and anything else needing an annoying "man grunge feel" GO AWAY. 5 years ago
  • You know what I feel like I've been seeing way too much of lately? Neutraface. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice font… but it's gotten to the point where I see it every single day of my life, somewhere or other. 5 years ago
  • Thirsty/Thirsty Rough is quickly on it's way to being the new Lobster. And I'll be the one saying "I used it before it was popular". Good article :) 5 years ago
  • You missed something. Mistral. 5 years ago
  • Anonymous
    Times New Roman. I hate that font with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. 5 years ago
  • Anonymous
    I learned the hard way never to do #7. It was a brutal 14 months with an in-house committee, all to have the whole project scrapped in the end. 4 years ago
  • Can you do this job in exchange for goods we sell that you will never use and are worth less than what you charge. :( 4 years ago
  • Just finished an 18 month long...."please design my wedding invitations" for a family member....via WhatsApp!" Never, ever, ever, ever again. Christmas was well....let's not go there..... I've come out the other side of it, learned a lot about what I really hate doing, and a lot of missed opportunities to do other exciting stuff, but just can't remember what they were..... 3 years ago
  • All soooooooo true! Love the Gap comment. 3 years ago
  • Anonymous
    I do not know how to get my voice out to someone who has a decision at CreativeMarket, These two months and no one responds to ticket help what this the bad and annoying services, Without any right, you steal $4,200 dollars did not respond to the owner !!!!!!!!!!! 3 years ago
  • The absolute disrespect…Client comes crying to me with a crisis, I solve the problem, work to meet a tight deadline…only to get to the final approval proof to be told that “they will get back to ‘that’ next week…when they have the time.” So wrong. 3 years ago
  • Yes! awesome post! 3 years ago
  • I used Lobster once. 2 years ago