Author: jtconde

Designer Tips: How to Gain New Skills On a Regular Basis as a Designer

In a field where things are changing on a weekly basis, it is imperative that you as a designer, are upgrading and adding things to your skill toolkit. Here are some ways to stay on top of your game.
Be Clear On Your Goals
Think about what you would like to learn and why. Make sure that the skills you are about to learn are skills that you plan on using in your work frequently. Be aware that what you will attempt to learn may very well be hard, so by staying clear on your goals, you can stay honest with yourself.
Surround Yourself with Successful Designers
Hanging around successful designers will practically guarantee that you will gain endless amounts of skills. Other designers can reveal tips that aren’t talked about regularly that can enhance your skills. Also, it is easier to hold yourself accountable if you are hanging with a group of designers who are growing at a rapid rate.
Stay Adaptable
Never get frustrated when technologies change. Instead, be excited. Great things take time and if you need to spend some time trying to understand new concepts, it will pay off. The industry only cares about designers who can work well with today’s technologies and today’s ideologies.
Love What You Do
Is anything you don’t love and not know how it’s doing today? The same thing can be said about design. If you really love design, by default, you are going to learn a ton about it, Also, loving what you do will help you follow the previous tips with little to no effort.
What are some tips that can help designers stay marketable in today’s time? Comment down below.

Designer Tips: How to Work Smarter Instead of Harder as a Designer.

Designers typically do whatever it takes to get as much work done as they possibly can in the shortest amount of time possible. They way they take on this challenge is by working through the night and early morning, taking shortcuts, skipping steps in their  personal process and so on.
It’s not about how hard you power through, it’s about how well you can manage yourself through it.
Charging through a project as quickly as possible for the sake of finishing is proof that you have a hard time handling yourself as a designer. Instead of hammering, slow down and think about what matters the most. Here are some ways you can slow down without halting your productivity.
Stay Organized
Whether it is cleaning and tidying your desk or clearing your documents folder on your machine, staying organized will help your workflow run alot more smoothly. As you work and work, it is common for clutter to build over time. Because it is so subtle, it’s hard to notice it and identifying it as a problem.
Be sure to write everything down and label all your files. It will give your brain a break from trying to remember everything.
Break Your Work Down to Mini-Sized Goals
By dissecting your workload, you can get more quality work done. Set milestones and set dates and times that they need to be completed by. Doing so will help you vision what needs to be done and will help you in finding out when the next step should be taken. You won’t need to do a whole lot outside of what you had planned for the project. Also, this will help you enhance the small details in your work.
Automate Repeated Steps
Instead of spending minute after minute of doing something you do in every other document in Photoshop, why not create an action that takes care of all those steps in less than a few seconds? It’s amazing to see how many designers do the same thing over and over again just because they feel that they don’t have time to create an action for their process. It doesn’t make much sense does it?
By doing these things on a regular basis, you will be getting as much done without being too brutal about your workload. What are some techniques you use to cut time from your workload? Feel free to comment.

How Much Coding Should Designers Know?

Thoughts on Software design and development

Many designers think each discipline should mind their own business, while others see no problem in professionals wearing multiple hats. Many developers see designers who code as a threat, while others see it as a facilitator. This is a hotly debated subject, and although I think some great designers are also superb at coding, I will always defend that the more you focus on a particular area the best you will be at it. But this shouldn’t be a reason for you to miss out on the benefits of having another skill under your belt.

designers coding

Learn how to code and make yourself a great asset to any multi-disciplinary team.

As a designer who has gone as far to set up Linux servers and program back-end, I see no question that understanding ‘the basics’ of coding would benefit any designer…

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Designer Tips: Will Web Designers Become Obsolete?

With the rise of different web technologies that help businesses create a website in under 15 minutes, web designers fear that their jobs will become worthless.  Because anybody can build a website, there must not be a point for a web designer to help do the job right?
The way we designers do things  now may become obsolete, but I doubt our jobs will be. Web designers will change with the industry. In fact, web designers have already adapted to these technologies that threaten to steal our jobs. For example, Squarespace is a tool that is used by businesses to build websites quickly. Even though the tool seems to be easy, the truth is, people still struggle to get their website right. There are designers who have dedicated their talents to Squarespace, to further help business owners maintain a good looking, functional website. Instead of fighting off these site builders, work with them. You already have a strong sense of web design. By combining your skills and learning a platform, you can probably make something greater than you have ever imagined.
Design is ever changing. There will never be a point in time when a solution to all of the web’s problems will be reached. As long as there are people wanting to send a specific message out, web designers will continue to push.
Just like design, the internet is changing. The ways people interact and interpret the internet are changing as well. It is likely that web designers will be working at a much greater level, if the way web design as we know it, becomes automated. Web designers will be focusing on the more intricate aspects of the web. Web sites may very well take a different form before designers become obsolete.
As the industry changes, the job position will change. Designers will be around as long as the web is around.

Designer Tips: Is it Important to be Detail Oriented?

Designers take pride in their ability to work with very complex projects that may seem nearly impossible to people who work outside of the industry. Companies typically want to work with designers who can excel in working with intricate details. This can intimidate a number of designers arriving to the scene as they may or may not be as detail oriented as their peers. So that begs the question: Is it important to be a very detail oriented person in the design field?
Yes, but there’s a time and place for it.
Detail is indeed an important aspect of design, but designers typically make the mistake on focusing on detail at inappropriate moments. Details are a supplement to the big picture. Unlike the important message that should easily be conveyed through your project, details are a luxury that should really be focused on during your luxury time. In fact, details should not even be a factor in your project until your message can come through without them. Focusing too much on detail will result in having all elements in your project form an identity of each their own and your work will head in a number of different directions.
Not to mention, attention to detail is a skill that attaches on to you naturally through experience. Some can really turn it on once this skill is acquired. Think about someone’s recent work that you may have seen that was visually appealing because of it’s detail. More than likely, the details came about once the big picture was determined.
If you are new to design, it’s perfectly fine to not be detail oriented. It is far from the most important thing when focusing on design.
Focus on who you are designing for.
Focus on the details when you have the extra time to do so.

Designer Tips: How to Tell a Story Through Web Design

The best way to communicate a company’s mission to it’s market is by being able to convey their mission to the public to capture them. A website is like a movie, people will come see the actors, but people will stay for the story.

Here are some ways you can captivate an audience through web design.

Deliver an emotional punch first. 
Emotion is pretty much everything in marketing. The average person makes choices based on how they feel. Capture them by providing them a glimpse of the company’s vision. For example, a brewery’s mission might be to turn people’s bad days into good times. Visually deliver that “drive to happiness” feeling on the homepage of that website.

Here is the homepage for Yacht Albatros. How does this make you feel? Relaxed? Invited? Their mission is to free you from where you are and bring you to a classical trip across the ocean. This is a great way to capture the audience to guide them through their vision.

Answer the frequently asked questions right away. 
When designing a website, a designer must come up with reasons as to why a user is on the site to begin with. This is important because you want the viewer’s experience to be smooth as possible. Avoid having the user to click through the site to find the store menu or hours of operation. Otherwise, the user is just simply using the site, not interacting with it.

Direct the flow of the story.
This is where your knowledge as a web designer needs to be reflected. Color psychology, typography,  and layout can be an interesting way to direct the interaction flow. Again, you should be able to guide the user through the website without them having to interrupt this flow to find what they are looking for. Guide them to it.

Limit the text.
Just because your job is to tell the company’s story through a web design does not mean you have to literally write it all out. Looking at visuals is 10x quicker and more effective than reading text, and text is boring anyway. I am sure you as a designer probably already know that.

Leave ’em Hangin’.
Once you have an effective story told through your design, you should really focus on how to deliver the Call to Action. This is important because although you want your story told, you don’t want to make it seem like it concludes before the Call to Action. The biggest thing you need to remember is that Call to Action’s job is to unveil the rest of that story. A story that now involves the user, and allows everyone to be happy.

Guide to Building a Top UI Design Portfolio

Thoughts on Software design and development

Writer’s Note: This is the 2nd of a series of portfolio guides that aims to help those among our readers with the skill set that is featured.

Before We Begin

Professionals who work in the creative industry need portfolios to showcase their skills to attract clients and peers. Once upon a time this was solved by creating stunning printed pieces. However, no matter how you look at it, times have changed and designers are no longer just designers. We’ve got different specialties that cover many different fields within design. It’s important that you identify your strengths before starting to build your own portfolio.

Today we will cover all the bases that lead to the creation of an amazing User Interface Portfolio, so if this happens to be your specialization, keep reading!

Quality and Quantity

Take the creation of your portfolio as any other important project you would work on…

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Designer Tips: How to Stand Out as a Freelance Graphic Designer


In a world where everyone in your industry is competing for competition and work, it is very difficult to rack in business for yourself. When starting out, it is hard to convince people that they should pick you as their designer for the job at hand. Surely, one of the answers you get when the question “How do you get those clients?” is asked is that you have to stand out of the competition. The good news is you do not have to be as “super creative” as you think.

Specialize in a niche
Out of all the freelancers fighting for clients, very few are actually doing this. Many designers think that the more skills they have to service people, the more likely they are able to get these jobs. The truth is, if you specialize in a skill such as web design, or just video, or infographics, you are actually more likely to win the hearts of clients. Clients are generally looking for someone to do a particular task and are therefore looking for someone who specializes in achieving that task. Someone who is needing a motion graphics video is more likely going to hire a video only designer rather than hiring someone who has video skills along with ten other skills as advertised. Pick a particular skill, and blow it up as your main strength. You’d be surprised by how many emails you get from people needing that particular skill.

Declare your mission as a designer
What do you hope to achieve when you are helping people with their problem? Are you designing to help tell the story of the business you are helping? Do you love helping companies “refresh” their looks? Designers claim that they love what they do in terms of design, but that does not mean anything to other businesses if you do not have a goal in mind as a designer. Most designers design to make things look pretty. Stand out by stating your main goal as a designer. Why do you design for other people?

Connect with people personally and emotionally
Your best clients are going to be the ones that you deeply care about. Freelancers typically spam others business cards, and loves to talk to prospects about themselves and their arsenal of skills and being “sales-y”. There is nothing wrong with being a salesman, but keep in mind, you are not the first person to pitch your design services. Connect with business owners on a personal level, be nice to your local business owners, or talk about your similar interests. When they casually find out what you do, trust me, work will come.

Help fellow freelancers
Something that took me awhile to grasp when starting out, is helping out other freelancers who are either rising or experienced. New or struggling freelancers are too busy trying to get ahead of one another in getting their clients. Very few help others, whether it is referrals or giving simple business tips. You would be surprised by how many people will send work your way just because you helped them with social media or design.

Business Tips: How to Find the Perfect Web Designer for Your Business

The foundation of your business is more or less set, and now you need a web designer to take it to another level and to deliver your product in a different manner. The question is who can help you achieve that goal. It is important that you hire a superstar because your website is going to give a first impression of your business to potential customers. Here are some quick tips and pointers to help guide you through your search for that ideal web designer.
  1. Web designers who charges a cheap fee for a design ARE NOT better. 
You will get exactly what you pay for. A designer who charges $9.00/hour are charging you that rate either because they believe the quality of their work equates to that rate (which is borderline awful), or they do not treat their work seriously enough because it is just hobby to them. This also means you should avoid hiring through a freelancing platform or design contests. Hiring a cheap designer could result in having a site that has a hard time converting or even functioning.
  1. Understand the pros and cons in hiring both agencies and an individual. 
Business owners are conflicted with whether or not they want to deal with an agency or hiring a single person to handle their website. Both are great, but each have their own advantages. Hiring an individual designer is cheaper than hiring an agency, and woking with an individual makes it easier to get close and personal with the project and can have a large influence. On the other hand, although hiring an agency is pricier and harder to interact with the team in regards to the project, your site will more than likely be more innovative and structured. Find out which work style is better and how much involvement you want to have with your designer(s).
  1. Find a designer whose work makes you believe they can get the job done. 
Do not hire a web designer just because they have a web designer title. When hunting for a designer, browse through their portfolio. Find some pieces of work that impresses you and gives you evidence that they are suited for the job. Not only will this make your site development easier but you get bonus points from the designer for taking the time to do just that.
  1. Make sure that the designer’s core values in web design are congruent with the degree of the problem you are facing. 
A (great) designer has a set of values they follow throughout their career. Whether they are making sure that your site stands out in your industry, or reinventing the web in regards to your industry, you need to ensure that the way they go about delivering your site makes sense with your problem and the mission of your company.
  1. Ensure that the designer has the skills you need to solve your problem. 
It is imperative that you have the people who have the skills to design and/or develop your site. Skills include HTML, CSS, and Javascript. If a designer does not have the skills you need, it does not necessarily mean that they should not be hired. You can always hire someone else who is an expert at the missing skills to collaborate which always seem to work best.

Designer Tips: Why Designing Within Heavy Limits Can Be a Great Thing. 

I am always told that a designer’s typical monstrous nightmare involves being held by heavy corporate limitations. It can be extremely difficult to get your creativity motor going when your boundaries are holding you back. However, limitations will not only help you create your best work ever, but will also help sharpen your skills as a designer. Here are a few reasons why limits can be a good thing:
  1. You Will Find Things You Will Otherwise Not Find 
No boundaries are always fun, but it seems to never force you to look in the corners. This will allow you to have an easier time finding inspiration. Unlike other projects, you will be up close with the project allowing you to learn more about the project than you intended, and can easily relate to the project, which will ultimately enhance your role in the project.
  1. More Limits = More Pressure, More Pressure = Creativity
I do not think I need to elaborate on this. It has been proven that the more constraints a worker has, the better the work will be.
  1. Your Skills Will Soar
Your goal as a designer is to solve a problem. Problems are always created under certain conditions. You job is to work around those conditions by any means necessary. There is a mighty chance that you will force yourself into learning new skills to demolish that problem. Those skills will make your life easier in future projects mainly because those walls that kept you in that box made you better.
  1. You Will Begin to Appreciate The Little Things
You will begin to realize that those little things that you sometimes kick to the side while you are working, whether they are tools or color palettes, are a big deal. It will make you more aware of your workflow and resources. It will also help you relearn some of the basics that you may have forgotten about design, because those bolder skills that you have learned over the years have been your primary focus.
  1. You May Find a Good Reason to Rebuild Those Limitations
You have tried everything only to finally find out that there is something legitimately wrong with the company’s brand. Maybe you have identified the main reason for the problem’s existence that constantly gets overlooked. You will begin to find solutions that may not exist inside the box, but outside. As long as you can confidently confirm that, you will have a good reason to reinvent that wheel to create something great.