Being a designer is a truly awesome job. Creating aesthetics by implementing images, colors, fonts, and other elements can by a hobby, but also a profession. Even though creatives don’t want to live by rules, there are some basic directions that should be followed in order to improve themselves and achieve excellence.
I’ve made a list of 10 tips for designers, some of them applicable to many fields.
1. Give your design a personality. Don’t attempt to imitate another designer’s style.
Not sure why I choose this tip to be the first and most important one. Maybe because it’s the best way to get noticed and stand out in the crowd of designers. Put your identity and personality in your masterpieces, it will give charisma to your work and you will be easily recognized as a designer.
2. Learn the core elements of design.
- Line – The first and most basic element, used to define shapes, make divisions, and create textures. When used effectively, lines can strengthen your designs aesthetically, structurally or both.
- Color – Every color says something different, so understanding colors can adjust the feel of your design and when used correctly can guide viewers eye to what is important. Learn more about Color Theory and how various choices psychologically impact users.
- Shape – Every object is composed of shapes, geometric or organic. They are defined by lines and colors and used to differentiate or emphasize items and organize information.
- Form – Applies to three-dimensional objects and describes their volume and mass. In a two dimensional composition, the objects constitute the positive forms, while the background is the negative space.
- Space – Learning to see and control space is a very important skill you can learn as a designer. A good use of whitespace will lead to a cleaner and more professional design. This article will help you learn how to use space in design.
- Texture – Texture refers to how a surface feels or is perceived to feel, it can be powerful when presented in any type of design, adding visual interest and can enhance design. Many designers are afraid of using texture in the wrong way so they avoid using it.
- Typography – One of the most important parts of graphic and web design. Which font is chosen, the size, alignment, color, and spacing, can make the difference between a good, bad and great design. Check these font pairings for inspiration.
- Scale (size) – Trying different scale and size of objects, shapes, type and other elements add interest and emphasis by demonstrating how each item relates to each other based on size.
3. Listen to your clients. Design is all about communication.
Design itself is a way to communicate, sharing a specific visual message, whether it’s a quote, product, website or marketing materials. Listen and ask questions in depth, to assure that you are on the right course when you start designing. Also, have in mind that clients doesn’t always know all the terms in your day-to-day design vocabulary. Speak in simple terms and teach clients the definitions of common design terms, this will builds trust and results in a better working relationship.
4. Take feedback as a gift.
It’s easy to get attached to a design project when you invest time, energy, and creativity. Don’t let that attachment keep you from receiving feedback, constructive criticism is necessary in order to make your work stronger. It’s good to have confidence in your work, but also important not to connect too tightly to a concept, because it can block your creativity and how the project could be improved. You can ask your clients for honest feedback and encourage them to be transparent with you in order you both be happy with the final result.
5. First, concept. Then, design.
A problem well-stated is a problem half-solved.
Defining a problem is also an extremely creative activity. Creativity techniques work best when your attitude is that everything is possible. Use them with the full expectation that you will produce ideas that will solve your problem. A well-defined and exciting problem is the catalyst that will make your design go.
6. Don’t copy!
Always be original. Take inspiration from other designers, but don’t copy others work or style. You can use blogs or websites where professional designers share their work for ideas, motivation to try new approaches or to follow latest design trends that will help you develop your skill set.
To keep everything simple, use basic geometric shapes throughout your projects. Use wisely the core elements of design to create balance and harmony in your designs, the smooth, clean edges are eye-pleasing. Simplicity should be a key goal when designing and unnecessary complexity should be avoided.
8. Strive for progress, not perfection.
Don’t get caught up in striving for perfection. Instead of doing minor edits and tweaks on a project and working in circles, set a reasonable timeframe to finish it. You could always make little adjustments and the revisions could go on for months.
9. Always know the answer of “Why?”
Always try to have a reason behind every design decision you make. Why certain colors work well together, why those fonts work better for a logo, why certain layouts are a better for a website and to countless other “Why”s you should have answers, first to yourself, then in front of the clients. Following the tips above, from learning core design elements and principles, establishing a good relationship with your clients, planning your project in advance, you can be sure that you’ll have “Because” to every “Why”.
10. Continue to learn and be curious.
It’s cool that the design field is dynamically changing. There are always new trends, tools, and tricks out there, and as creatives, we should always strive to learn, be up-to-date with the latest news and keep our work from getting monotonous and predictable. Try to meet up other designers to learn from them, take courses to master a new skill, experiment with new software or devices and always stay curious.
Don’t use Comic Sans 🙂 and more tips that I found inspiring.
Remember: be creative, break the rules and push your design skills by coming up with new and innovative ideas. At the end of the day, graphic design is about exploration and experimentation.
You don’t need to apply at all of the tips above. In fact, if you master any one of those points you are still a great designer. But yet, someone who has the ability to think across the spectrum is considered as a valuable designer and respected professional.
Following my advice in tip #10, I would love to hear tips from you! What is your top advice for graphic/web designers and creatives? Even if you are not in the design industry, I would love to know if anything mentioned above, applies in your industry.