The Most Common Graphic Design Challenges Every Designer Faces

ome hurdles are a normal part of any creative process. So what are the most common graphic design challenges? Here’s a list with tips on how to overcome them!

Graphic Design
Graphic Design

Table of Contents

No creative process is without its setbacks and issues. So, what challenges do graphic designers face? How difficult are these graphic design challenges, and what’s the best way to overcome them? Here’s the full scoop!

Graphic designers are one of the most sought-after professions nowadays since graphics are an inevitable part of any modern business. But no matter how experienced a professional they are, there are some challenges faced by graphic designers that are simply part of the creative process.

Are you a designer looking to overcome creative challenges? Or a design client that wants to understand the challenges in graphic design to better approach the process? Then keep reading!

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1. Creative Burnout

This is one of those challenges faced by graphic designers that’s particularly difficult to understand for demanding clients. A doctor can’t say they don’t “feel” like operating on someone. A sales rep won’t stop working the moment they don’t feel particularly talkative or persuasive.

And yet, it’s perfectly normal for designers to feel that sometimes the ideas simply aren’t flowing. A seasoned professional will always be able to design something, but if the inspiration isn’t there, the graphics will probably feel quite dull and unoriginal.

How to overcome this challenge?

At times, creative burnout is a direct outcome of doing something repeatedly in the absence of other creative outlets. Therefore, finding a different way to express your creativity can be a way to get ideas and even some graphic design practice. Similar disciplines, such as painting, photography, or sculpture are all great choices.

Another short-term solution, as with any other profession, is to meet people from your line of work. Designers are usually able to ask more informed questions than clients requesting graphic design. In turn, this can point to a different direction or perspective you haven’t thought of.

Don’t know where to connect with creatives like yourself? Portfolio platforms such as Dribble and Behance are terrific places to get your daily dose of creative inspiration.


2. Defending your work

Is graphic design challenging? This is at least one reason why all designers will say “yes”.

When there’s no mathematical formula to calculate the success of a piece of design, defending your work and creative decisions can be quite tricky. Most graphic designers work with non-designers (90% of them work freelance, while only 18% work in ad and design agencies). So, a lot of a designer’s day-to-day is dealing with unsolicited opinions and cringeworthy requests, such as “Can you make it pop”, or “Let’s use up this empty space”.

Keeping your head down and going along with every request that goes against the most basic design principles is a bad idea. This doesn't just diminish your professional integrity (other people might see the work and think you can’t do better). As you probably know, bad design can seriously harm your client’s brand image, and it’s your job to warn them against common graphic design mistakes.

How to overcome this challenge?

We have a whole blog post on how clients should provide actionable and useful feedback to graphic designers. Let’s hope your next client reads it!

Alternatively, here are a few things a designer should do to overcome the challenge of defending their work:

  • Ask questions: It may sound like a cliche, but sometimes people just want to feel heard. Instead of dismissing the client’s wishes as unreasonable, dig deeper to find out why they feel and think the way they do.
  • Present data: Your client doesn’t like a blue logo? Tell them that 40% of Fortune 500 companies use this color in their logos. While there may not always be handy data on hand to back your claims, you can also use case studies and previous work to show why a certain approach works.
  • Offer alternatives: Sometimes a client will ask for a change of direction simply because they haven’t been given any options to choose from. Make sure you submit several variations (most commonly different colors) to the client, as this might avoid clashes with them.
  • Find a compromise: At the end of the day, this is one of those graphic design challenges that’s easily resolved through compromise. Instead of accepting all your client’s wishes, find a way to merge their vision into yours. Don’t forget that communication skills are one of the most vital skills a graphic designer should have.

3. Balancing design and function

What’s more important in design: aesthetics or functionality? The answer is - it depends. In some areas of graphic design, such as UX design, functionality is probably the most vital concern. On the other hand, most graphic designers know all too well the risk of presenting something that looks unpolished to their clients.

Looks and usability are critical aspects of graphic design. But sometimes it can be difficult to strike the right balance or find a compromise between the two.

How to overcome this challenge?

A very simple rule of thumb to follow is that usability trumps aesthetics. It may seem like an odd claim to make, especially coming from a graphic design company. Still, at the end of the day, the difference between graphic design and art is precisely that graphic design always serves a particular purpose.

If an ad is failing to get clicks, and a website leaves users frustrated and baffled, no amount of groundbreaking design can help.

Another simple rule to make a useful design well presented is to follow brand guidelines. Not all brands will have the most beautiful brand identity design. Nevertheless, so long as the brand’s identity is created with a specific target audience in mind, consistency will help build customer loyalty and boost brand recognition.

4. Keeping up with the technology

A few decades ago graphic designers still worked with pens and paper. Nowadays, there seem to be never-ending advancements in terms of graphic design programs that enhance the possibilities of modern graphic design.

Of course, nowadays it would be impossible not to mention the rise of AI in graphic design: whether it’s a logo or a social media post, many people are already using this modern technology, often as a way of avoiding the cost of professional graphic design.

How to overcome this challenge?

Is graphic design challenging? This problem certainly suggests so. You don’t just need to learn about all the new design programs and features that seem to be a daily occurrence. These days, lots of graphic designers feel they need to prove they’ll still be needed in the age of AI-generated design.

So, how to solve one of the most complicated challenges graphic designers face? Here are a few tips:

  • Be a true master of a select number of programs: Spreading yourself thin by trying to master every design program will end up badly. There will always be a designer more proficient than you, and there’s no way you can keep up with all the trends and updates at all times. Pick a few programs that are most relevant to the type of design you specialize in, and keep learning and exploring their features.
  • Stay in the loop: While you shouldn’t waste your energy taking a new graphic design course every week, it’s important to keep informed. Subscribe to relevant design industry blogs or publications, and make sure you network with other designers. If you have the right knowledge, you can always explain how your expertise (or design program of choice) can be a better fit for your clients’ needs than some of the other stuff that’s out there.
  • Use AI to your advantage: You may not like it, but AI is here to stay. It’s still in its early days, however, so there’s no sign it can replace the touch of a human designer just yet. But, it can be a tremendous help in creating custom design quicker. Whether you want to get some design ideas or simple design elements you can incorporate into your project, use this technological advancement as a supplement to your craft.

5. Inefficient workflow management

If hell is other people, then this is one of the common challenges in graphic design that proves it. Like most other creatives, graphic designers usually work as a part of a larger team. Therefore, they often face the usual challenges of teamwork, such as miscommunication or chasing impossible deadlines.

How to overcome this challenge?

The first thing you have to do if you’re unhappy with the way your work is structured is to revise your personal workflow. You might have been procrastinating, or even working at times that don’t work for you (some people simply work better outside of “usual” office hours).

Whether it’s adding more items to your routine (morning yoga, journaling, regular breaks) or simply powering through your work in a shorter amount of time, it’s important to know what works best for you. You may not always be able to fit your schedule perfectly into that of your team, but it’s useful to know how you can make yourself more productive.

Once you’re clear on that, it will be much easier to provide constructive feedback and improve the efficiency of the workflow.

Our own creative team at ManyPixels for example works well thanks to designated project managers that check the graphics before they’re submitted to clients for review. This entails a set of predefined criteria and systems of checks that allows us to deliver results aligned with the client's creative brief.

If a designated project manager doesn’t fit your budget, you ought to set up some sort of quality assurance system that will help you deliver results in line with your clients’ requests.


Experience is the best teacher

Whether you’re drained for good design ideas, or have to deal with unreasonably short deadlines, remember that these are all challenges faced by graphic designers regularly. We hope some of our tips help you overcome them!

If you happen to be a client that’s not satisfied with the work of your designer, it pays to understand the ins and outs of the design process and the common challenges in graphic design. Do you want to keep exploring this topic? Here are some helpful resources:

ome hurdles are a normal part of any creative process. So what are the most common graphic design challenges? Here’s a list with tips on how to overcome them!

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