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Graphic design checklist

Graphic design is not an easy task. There are many elements to consider when designing graphics, and it’s important to do your research before you get started. Use this handy checklist to help you.

What is a graphic design checklist?

A graphic design checklist is a list of critical elements that you should check before publishing any content. It is not a simple list of steps to follow. You must take the time to research each aspect and use your own judgment about how it applies to your specific tasks or goals.

The importance of a graphic design checklist

A graphic design checklist is important because it can help you avoid making common mistakes. It can also help ensure that your graphics are accurate and professional-looking. What’s more, a graphic design complete checklist can improve the overall quality of your work and increase your productivity.

Who can benefit from a graphic design checklist

  • Business owners: to create accurate and professional-looking graphics for their websites, brochures, and other promotional materials.
  • Graphic designers: can ensure that their designs are accurate and meet their client’s requirements. They can also use it as a tool for improving the quality of their work and producing high-quality designs on time.
  • Marketing team: to increase productivity and boost profits by delivering graphics faster and more accurately, or by briefing graphic designers on how to do so. They can also use it to produce high-quality graphics that will help their business stand out from the competition.

Explore the graphic design checklist

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Graphic design checklist

A design brief is a document that provides all of the relevant information about a project so that the designer can start working on it. The brief should include:

  • The objective of the design
  • Who the target audience is
  • What the specific requirements are (e.g. file type and dimensions)
  • Any other relevant information

Why is design brief important?

A design brief provides you with all the information you need to start working on a project. If some of the critical elements are missing, this can lead to mistakes and delays later in the process.

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How to create a brief for design?

You can write a brief yourself, but it’s best to get your client to do so. This way, it will be accurate and meet their expectations from the beginning.

Which tools to use to create a brief for design?

There is no need to use a professional vector-based design and drawing program in this step. You can simply use Google Docs or your favorite word processor.

When it comes to graphic design, research is key to creating high-quality visuals that accurately represent the message. So make sure to gather information on the topic you’re trying to communicate, as well as any relevant competitor designs.

Why is research important?

Research can help you learn more about your audience and what they are looking for in terms of visuals. You want to make sure that the information or concept being communicated is clear so that it doesn’t confuse them, leading to negative results.

How to do a design research ?

It is important to look at other designs in your industry and competitors’ brands. This will allow you to determine what will work and what won’t be based on the design preferences of consumers in that market.

Research multiple systems

Which tools to use to do a design research?

If you’re not sure where to start, try using Behance or Pinterest to get inspiration for your design.

The next step in the graphic design process is brainstorming, which allows you to develop innovative ideas for your design concept. The best way to approach this stage is by ensuring there are no boundaries or limitations so that you can explore as many options as possible.

Why is brainstorming important?

This step will ensure that you have a wide range of concepts to choose from before moving onto the next stage.

How to brainstorm?

It is important to have a creative environment where everyone can contribute their ideas, regardless of how outlandish they might seem. Remember, there are no bad ideas during brainstorming.

Team sitting behind table working

Which tools to use to brainstorm?

A notebook and a pen to put your thoughts on paper and let your ideas flow, even the simplest ones.

Choosing your design concept is often where creatives struggle, as it can be difficult knowing which option will produce that perfect result.

Why is concept important?

During this stage, you will narrow down all of the concepts you created during brainstorming, making the design process easier for everyone.

How to create a concept?

It is helpful if design team members can agree on a concept before moving forward. This will help to avoid any disagreements or confusion down the line.

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source: carmenkmjune25.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/concept-board-mood-board/

Which tools to use in this step?

A mood board can help to visualize your chosen concept and get everyone on the same page.

It’s time to start evaluating your ideas in order to create the best design possible.

Why is this step important?

This stage will help you determine the specific details of your design and make sure everything is in line with your vision.

How to handle this step?

It’s important to have a clear idea of what you want before evaluating ideas, as this will help make the process smoother. Also, if team members are working collaboratively, be sure to regularly communicate any changes.

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source: hatrabbits.com/en/evaluate-brainstorm-ideas/

Which tools to use in this step?

Templates can help with getting your ideas down visually and evaluate different design options before moving forward.

One of the most important aspects of any project is setting and meeting deadlines. This step helps make sure that everyone involved in the project knows what they need to do and when it needs to be done.

Why is this step important?

This will help keep everyone on track and avoid delays or missed milestones.

How to handle this step?

It is helpful to create a timeline with specific deadlines for each stage of the design process. This will help ensure that everything stays on track.

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Which tools to use in this step?

A project management tool such as Asana can be very helpful for organizing and managing your team’s deadlines.

It’s also important to consider your budget when designing any type of content. This step will be of assistance with spending no more than your allotted funds while still completing all of the elements in your design.

Why is this step important?

This step is there to make sure you don’t go over budget and still achieve the look and feel that you want with your graphic design.

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How to handle this step?

It is helpful if team members are realistic about their needs and discuss any limitations in advance so everyone knows the budget for each phase.

Which tools to use in this step?

A spreadsheet in Google Sheets can come in handy for organizing and keeping track of your budget.

The next step is to draft designs once you have finalized your concept. This will give you a better idea of how everything should look when it’s finished.

Why is this step important?

This step allows for revisions and feedback so that any necessary changes can be made before the design is finalized.

How to handle this step?

It’s a good time for team members to reach out if they have any concerns or questions during the process. It can also contribute to preventing any last-minute changes that may affect deadlines.

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Which tools to use in this step?

A graphics editor such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, although these are relatively complex tools. For those without technical skills, Canva is a much easier alternative for amateurs.

Before you even begin to make a graphic design, look at the project setup. This means choosing the right tools and setting up your workspace in an efficient way.

Why is this step important?

If you’re using the wrong tools or your workspace isn’t set up correctly, this might slow down your workflow and cause frustration.

How to handle this step?

For example, if you’re working on a web design, make sure you have all of the necessary software downloaded and installed ahead of time.

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source: bloggingmile.com/best-graphic-design-software/

Which tools to use in this step?

It all depends on which tools you decide to work on. You need a good design program (Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, etc.), plus a drawing tablet for graphic designers.

To begin with, make sure your document size is set correctly.

Why is this step important?

If the document size isn’t correct, it can distort your graphics and affect the overall look of your design.

How to handle this step?

Be sure to check the dimensions needed for the project. Your design needs to fit its purposes.

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Example of creating new document in Illustrator

Which tools to use in this step?

All design programs allow you to change the document size from the document settings. However, in Canva, if you don’t have a premium account then you can’t change the size after creating a first project.

The margin is the space between the final trim area and image size area. This white space makes sure the content itself isn’t cut off or too close to the outer edges of the product after it is trimmed.

To put it simply, the bleed is the area that must be trimmed off.

Why is this step important?

If these aren’t set up correctly, your graphics may be cropped or end up looking distorted.

How to handle this step?

Most design programs have default margin and bleed settings that you can change if necessary.

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Example of document setup in Illustrator

Which tools to use in this step?

In most cases, you’ll be working with a margin of 0.25″ and a bleed of 0.125″.

The color mode can determine how colors combine according to the number of channels in a color model. This can affect color detail and file size.

Why is this step important?

If you choose the wrong color mode, your graphics may appear distorted or washed out after printing or distributing. They could also look completely different from the colors you see in your design project.

How to handle this step?

If you’re working on a design for a website or social media, etc., make sure the color mode is set to RGB. This will ensure that your logo looks accurate when displayed on a computer screen.

If you need to print your design, you’ll need to change the color mode to CMYK.

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Example of color settings in Illustrator

Which tools to use in this step?

Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator both have a variety of color modes that you can choose from, such as index mode (256 colors), grayscale mode (256 grays), and Bitmap mode (2 colors).

In Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, you can access these options in the new document window. If you have already created a project, go to File > Document color mode.

If you are using fonts, make sure they are easy to read. You don’t want your text to be challenging to scan though.

Why is this step important?

Using fonts that are hard to read can result in your content not being understood correctly.

How to handle this step?

First, stick with just a couple of different fonts and use them consistently throughout your design.

Second, avoid busy-looking fonts like cursive or handwriting styles unless they fit your brand identity. With these types of fonts, you risk making the text difficult to read.

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Example of fonts in MS Word

Which tools to use in this step?

If you’re unsure which fonts to use, some websites allow you to test out different fonts together before committing, e.g. Flippingfonts.com.

In graphic design, the layout refers to the arrangement of visual elements on a page that make up the content of the design.

Why is this step important?

The layout has two objectives: to convey the message correctly and to present information in a logical, coherent way that highlights the most critical points. If the layout isn’t correct, it can make your graphics look unprofessional and/or disorganized.

How to handle this step?

Here are five things to keep in mind for preparing a good layout:

  • Proximity – group together related items
  • White space – leave gaps between the content, lines, and outer margins
  • Alignment – be consistent, arrange the content inside of a grid
  • Contrast – draw attention to something important
  • Repetition – repeat or echo certain elements of your design to reinforce the message
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source: 99designs.com/profiles/1193222

Which tools to use in this step?

It is possible to create any number of rows and columns, add gutters, margins, and save your guide layouts as presets in Adobe with the Guide Layout feature.

It’s time to select your color palette for the project.

Why is this step important?

We probably don’t need to tell you how vital color usage is. If the wrong color is used, it can change the entire look of your website or graphic.

For example, if a bright red background isn’t appropriate for specific content on a webpage, using white text won’t help either because users will not read the text anyway.

How to handle this step?

In general, you should use colors that work well together and have a purpose within the design. If you don’t know how, follow the color theory.

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source: macrovector

Which tools to use in this step?

In Adobe, you can create a custom color palette. This will allow you to choose colors that work well together and save them for future designs. You can also find different color combinations online or in design textbooks if you’re stuck.

If you include any images in the project, you should optimize them first.

Why is this step important?

Images that aren’t optimized will make the size of your final design too large, or it might appear pixelated.

How to handle this step?

There are many different ways to optimize an image. For example, you can reduce the file size by compressing it or you can choose to use an image format like JPEG or PNG that will optimize it automatically.

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source: lithyem.net/optimize-before-you-automate/

Which tools to use in this step?

In Adobe Photoshop, the Save for Web option allows you to optimize images before exporting them into different formats. You can also find online tools that will optimize your images for free.

If your design contains any text, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are all the fonts used licensed for commercial use?
  • Is the text easy to read, or is it cramped and hard to make out?
  • Have any words been duplicated or used too many times throughout the design?
  • Is there enough contrast between the text and its background/surrounding elements?
  • Is the text suitably aligned and formatted?

Why is this step important?

If you’re not careful, using the wrong fonts or text alignment can make your design look unprofessional.

How to handle this step?

To choose the correct font scheme, it’s crucial to have a general idea of what you want your document to look like. For example, if you’re creating a flyer for an event, use fonts that are easy to read and match the event’s tone.

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Which tools to use in this step?

In Adobe Photoshop, you can use the Text tool to create and edit text. In Adobe Illustrator, a separate Type tool allows you to format and align your text. You can also find more options for editing text within both programs under the Window menu.

If you’re using a black background in your design, it’s important to use rich black instead of standard black especially if you will print your design.

Why is this step important?

Rich black is deeper than standard black, making the text and other elements look sharper and cleaner.

How to handle this step?

You have to change the CMYK ink values. It might take a few tries to find your perfect rich black formula.

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Which tools to use in this step?

In Adobe Illustrator, there is a swatch called Graphic Black that you can use to create rich black.

Copyright law protects creative work from unauthorized reproduction and usage. If you’re using any images or fonts that aren’t your own, be sure to include the owner’s copyright information in the document.

Why is this step important?

It’s important to credit the creators of any images or fonts used in your design, as it’s illegal to use them without permission.

How to handle this step?

You must obtain permission before you use any piece of work that is protected by copyright. To avoid violating any copyright license, read and understand it thoroughly.

Copyright claim on typer

Which tools to use in this step?

You can add copyright information to any document in Illustrator, Photoshop, or InDesign by choosing File > File Info.

One final thing to check is the difference between two or more elements of the composition. The contrast is a great way to emphasize what’s essential and draw visitors’ eyes to a particular area of the project.

Why is this step important?

Having too little contrast in your design will make reading the text and other elements difficult.

How to handle this step?

Contrast doesn’t refer only to the colors. You can add contrast to your designs by using different sizes of elements, textures, and patterns.

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source: Lifewire / Jeremy Girard

Which tools to use in this step?

Use a tool like the Contrast Checker to determine the differences between various elements. It’s a free online tool to help analyze your design and ensure there’s enough contrast between different aspects.

If you’re using any images or illustrations that contain text, make sure the elements are balanced.

Why is this step important?

When designing with type and other graphic elements together, it’s important to balance them out so they look intentional instead rather than the result of a mistake.

How to handle this step?

Balance can be achieved using different visual weights such as Symmetrical, Asymmetrical, Radial, or even Off-Balance.

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Which tools to use in this step?

In Adobe, there are a few ways to achieve balance in your design. One way is to use the Rule of Thirds grid. You can also adjust the position and size of elements until they look balanced.

If you plan to print your design, it’s important to include crop marks.

Why is this step important?

Crop marks help the printer know where to cut the paper so that everything displays correctly.

How to handle this step?

If you plan to have your document commercially printed, produce a sample page first to ensure the crop marks are accurate.

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source: pcgprint.com

Which tools to use in this step?

In Adobe, you can add custom crop marks by adjusting the settings under Crop Marks. You can also enter specific values for distance from each corner of your document. These crop marks will print on your design.

The final step of creating a design project is preparing brand guidelines, so everyone will know how exactly they can use the graphic design.

Why is this step important?

Especially if you’re creating a logo or a marketing image, it’s crucial to make sure the brand guidelines specify how and when your design can be used. Not establishing clear rules could lead to problems in the future.

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source: miro.com/templates/brand-guidelines/

How to handle this step?

The brand guidelines should include information about acceptable file formats, colors, and sizing for the following elements:

  • Logo
  • Graphic design
  • Images
  • Fonts

Which tools to use in this step?

To write up your brand guidelines, you could choose any of the following programs: Adobe Illustrator, Microsoft Word, or Google Slides.

It’s a good idea to check your design one more time before you publish it or send it out to the printer or client.

Why is this step important?

You don’t want any mistakes in the final product, so double-checking everything will ensure that you’ve covered all of your bases and there are no errors in the file when it gets printed or shared with the client.

How to handle this step?

Verify that you have not overlooked anything important by going over all steps of the graphic design checklist again.

^Graphic design^ checklist
source: searchenginejournal.com/ultimate-seo-content-checklist/

Which tools to use in this step?

Using our checklist is probably the easiest way to achieve this. Find out for yourself!

When your design is finished, it’s time to distribute the final product.

Why is this step important?

Saving your project in the wrong format can decrease the quality of your work.

How to handle this step?

Exporting one project in several formats is the best way to do this.

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Which tools to use in this step?

Standard raster files are JPEG, PNG, and GIF. In addition, you could save your design in PDF or export it to AI, EPS, TIFF, and PSD for further editing.

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Summary of graphic design checklist

Conceptual stage:

  • Prepare a design brief
  • Conduct research
  • Brainstorm
  • Choose the concept
  • Evaluate ideas
  • Set a deadline
  • Plan your budget
  • Create drafts

Project setup:

  • Choose tools and set up your workspace
  • Set the document size
  • Take care of the margins and bleed
  • Configure the color mode

Design elements:

  • Select fonts
  • Organize the layout and composition
  • Choose appropriate colors
  • Optimize images
  • Make text checkup
  • Use rich black
  • Include copyright information
  • Adjust the contrast
  • Maintain balance
  • Output:
  • Include crop marks
  • Prepare brand guidelines
  • Perform a checkup
  • Distribute

Graphic design checklist FAQs

How to send cold emails that win freelance design clients (with templates)?

Before you even begin to write an email, you need to research the company or individual you’re targeting. Take a look at their website, read their blog, and explore their social media profiles. This will help you understand their branding and what they’re looking for in a design partner. Your potential clients are probably busy people, so keep your email concise and straight to the point. There’s no need to spend too long introducing yourself or explaining who you are, since that can come later if they show interest in your proposal. Focus on explaining why you think your services would be a good fit for them and what value you could add to their business. In your email, be sure to include the following: Your name and contact information; A brief introduction of who you are and what you do; Links to your graphic design portfolio or a selection of recent work; The benefits of working with you (quality, timeliness, business budget, etc.); An explanation of how you’ll get the job done (for example, “I use Sketch for all my designs. I pride myself on being detail-oriented and creating mockups that are pixel perfect.”); Any relevant experience or skills related to their project

How to kickstart your freelance design business?

You can do a few key things to get your freelance design business off the ground. Here are a few tips: 1. Start by building a portfolio of your best work. This will help you attract new clients and show them what you're capable of. 2. Get involved with the design community, both online and in-person. Connect with other designers, attend meetups and conferences, as well as participate in online forums and discussions. This will teach you more about the industry and stay up-to-date with the latest trends. 3. Stay organized and keep track of your projects. This will help ensure that you stay on schedule and deliver high-quality work on time.

What should a Design Checklist include?

A design checklist should include the purpose of the design, specific requirements, principles to be followed, and a review process. We assure you that our checklist covers all of these aspects, so complete it and see for yourself.

How much do graphic designers charge?

There is no one definitive answer to this question because rates can vary greatly depending on a designer's experience, the type of project, and the project’s location. However, in general, graphic designers charge anywhere from $25 to $200 per hour, with the average rate being around $75 per hour. Some designers may also charge a flat fee for a project type rather than charging by the hour. This fee could be anywhere from $500 to $5,000 for a project that typically takes 50-100 hours to complete.

Why should I hire professional graphic designers?

Professional graphic designers will produce high-quality graphics that adhere to your company's aesthetic aspect and ethical values. In addition, they’ll create graphics that stand out on social media, persuade new customers, and foster loyalty. The designs won't require time-consuming and expensive design updates down the road, but rather look fresh for years to come. In reality, you probably can't afford to not hire them.

What are some common graphic design mistakes?

Some of the most common graphic design mistakes are choosing too many fonts, including low-resolution images, using text that's too small or difficult to read, and not adding enough white space. Fonts can be very overpowering if used in large quantities or in very contrasting styles. Therefore, it’s best to stick to two or three fonts at the most and make sure they complement each other. Low-resolution images often look blurry and pixelated when enlarged, so it's best to use high-resolution images whenever possible. White space is important for creating a visually appealing layout and making text easy to read. Too much clutter will overwhelm viewers, too.

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