5 Things to Keep in Mind When Moving From Graphic Design to Web Design

Who is a graphic designer?

Graphic designers combine text and images to create designs and layouts. It is their responsibility to create interesting designs which attract the viewers’ attention and effectively communicate the message. The message may be meant for both offline as well as online audiences. To put it in brief, graphic designers deal with how objects look. It is all about making static designs as visually appealing as possible. There are many branches of graphic design and many designers specialise in creating one category of work – such as Film poster designer Raj Khatri – while others prefer to do a little bit of everything.

Who is a web designer?

Web designers are broadly divided into UI and UX designers. User Interface designers are responsible for the way the layout of an application or a website i.e. the interface looks to the audience. While user experience designers are more concerned with what happens when one interacts with the interface. Together, they both work towards how the product feels. Their goal is to maximize product simplicity. They refine and iterate to create the best possible experience for the users.

As you can see, graphic designers are different from UI/UX designers in terms of both their process as well as the final result. There’s no doubt that currently UI/UX designers are in the greatest demand in India. They bridge the gap between how things look and how they work; and are at the forefront of creating fantastic products for people in the technological age. On the other hand, the graphic designer market has fallen a bit stagnant and the job market is shrinking for them compared to more technologically relevant designers.

Lots of graphic designers are in fact, making the switch over to becoming web designers. Are you too looking forward to making the switch? Here are five tips to keep in mind when moving from Graphic Design to Web Design;

1. Don’t be the Expert

The best web designers are the ones that don’t have all the answers. Huh, what? The key is to understand that all clients are different and one solution will not work for them all. You need to understand what designs they need, exactly and create it for them. Often, giving them an answer won’t be enough. You will have to research and give the clients reasons why your answer is right. Be prepared to get stumped every day and having to work hard for every single change that you make, because you’ll need to be accommodating of the clients’ needs in your designs.

Good web designers always start with the basic, always plan ahead while working and create rough wireframes for your designs. Rough is the key word here, as many designers often put too much effort in making their wireframes look pretty and lose focus on their purpose. This is a very important point for graphic designers as aesthetics take a backseat when it comes to creating wireframes. This doesn’t mean that you need to throw away your creativity but you need to learn to focus it and use it in the right places.

2. It’s a Science as much as an Art

Being a web designer, you must embrace product thinking. Being a web designer means understanding that designs overlap with product management, as no one can design an intuitive user interface for a product that they don’t have a clue about.

User research and testing is a big part of web design. Your intuition as well as all kinds of biases should never get in the way of the design process. This means that you’ll have to conduct interviews, studies, inquiries and testing to validate your design and ensure it’s intuitive to your users.

It’s a scientific approach, and you should understand that in web design the definition of beautiful is what makes users feel good while navigating through your interfaces and not what is just easy on the eyes. To achieve that you should not only be good at the art, you need to understand the science behind it all as well.

3. Design for Information

One of the most important aspects of good web design doesn’t deal so much with pixels, colours or typography, as does with the content that is inside your designs. People use websites and apps not for their beautiful designs, but because they want easy access to the content. While making the switch from graphic design to web design, one must keep this aspect in mind and make sure one’s designs are as simplistic as possible. It is very important to make it as easy as possible for the users to find the content that they need. The entire interface must be logical in its arrangement and easy to access for the end user.

4. Follow guidelines, don’t invent your own

“Wait, you want me to follow convention!” Although this sounds like cyanide to graphic designers, it makes perfect sense when it comes to web design. Like programming, UI/UX design has guidelines, such as Google’s Material Design for Android or Apple’s iOS Human Interface Guidelines. And following those is critical to ensure your design doesn’t cause any confusion in the mind of the users.

If you break completely from already established patterns, you might experience a steeper learning curve for new users. Many of them will not bother to figure out your design patterns and will move to another website or application which fits into what they already know.

However, this doesn’t mean that you have no space for customisation and offbeat design solutions. You do to some extent, but unless you work at Apple or Google, it’s not recommended to reinvent entire design patterns that your users have already got used to. It’s not creativity but usability that is important in this field.

5. Play Around

While it is but obvious that you will need to research and read up as much as possible on the world of web design, one thing often missed out on is that as a web designer, you should just visit as many websites as possible. Many graphic designers feel that using a reference throws off their intrinsic creativity and so they avoid using references for what they create.

Note down what you like about them and what you don’t. What makes them different from their competitors? What makes accessing content easier for you? Do you like that additional menu bar? How many clicks or actions does it take to reach from one section of the website to another? All of this will help you out a lot when you are designing your own websites as you can then learn from what others have done and avoid the mistakes that they’ve made.

Conclusion

If you are thinking of switching to web design, keep in mind that there will be radical shifts in your work process and mindset. The hardest part in this transition might be changing your perception of design and its goal.

So before sketching your first interface, try to get into the shoes of the user to understand what they are looking for in the product and what are their goals. Then think of design as a way to help them accomplish those. From now on, that’s your goal!

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How to Hire A Freelance Web Designer

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Why Your Business Should Upgrade to a Responsive Web Design Sooner Rather Than Later

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10 Resources to Get a Fantastic Book Cover Design, Whatever Your Budget

Your book needs a book cover design as great as its content!

Since a picture paints a thousand words, and since your cover will be what really captures the eye of people browsing Amazon, you really need to make sure it’s the best it can be (within your budget).

Here are some options for getting a fantastic cover design created quickly, whether you’re happy to spend $5, or $500. Or even if you’re not looking to spend a single dime!

Now, you can of course create a cover design yourself using software like PhotoShop or even just in Microsoft Word, and if you’re artistically inclined that may be a great option for you. However, that can be quite a fiddly process.

I will in fact be talking through some software that makes creating your own covers very quick and easy — much easier than advanced graphic design software!

But first of all, you need to start with ideas in mind, as it makes the process of designing and deciding upon your final cover, a lot easier.

Here’s some options for getting under way with market research:

Browse Amazon in your market for design ideas. Pay particular attention to the best-selling books.
That said, you don’t need to limit yourself to your market. Spend time looking at best-selling books in other related markets and see what ideas it gives you.
And it’s also well worth downloading book samples from Amazon to see how other authors have designed and laid out their books.
Now let’s run through ten great options for creating your own fantastic book cover:

Get Dozens of Designs at 99 Designs

99 Designs is a hugely popular site for getting many design ideas in just a few days, and the final design a few days after that.

How it works is as follows:

As a client of the site, you’ll have hundreds of designers competing to create the perfect design for you.
So initially, you choose your level of “prize”. This is a financial amount, and the higher this amount the more designers you’ll have competing for your attention, and the better quality the designers will be.
You put together a project brief and launch the contest.
The designs start to come in.
Once the contest has ended, out of all the designs you received, you choose finalists.
You work with the finalists to create the perfect design for you.
Now, 99 Designs isn’t the cheapest option, but how much you spend does depend on the prize amount you choose. However, with this site you get what you can’t (affordably) with any other site, dozens of design ideas in just a few days.

Get a Unique Design for $5 at Fiverr

Fiverr is a hugely popular online marketplace for services, where everything is just $5. Well, basic options start at $5 anyway. There’s often many upells that can add to the price significantly. For example:

Want 24 hour turnaround? That’s an extra $20.

Want all the source files to your design? Add $10.

… and so on.

But, with a little hunting, and by reading the reviews, you can get a decent cover design.

It will generally be created relatively quickly (a few days) and it will likely be okay, maybe even good. Probably not great. But of course for $5, your expectations can’t be too high. If you’re looking for a lot of collaboration between you and the designer, this isn’t the site.

Find Talented and Affordable Designers at UpWork

oDesk and eLance used to be two separate sites that were marketplaces for services. Effectively sites where people could post projects of what they needed done, and then freelancers would bid on the project in an attempt to gain the work.

One (not entirely unfair) way to categorize the two sites was that oDesk catered to the cheaper end of the market, whereas eLance was often more expensive and by implication, the quality of freelancers was higher (although not always the case).

However, the two sites have now become one! And it’s called UpWork.

Now, there’s thousands of very talented designers on this site from all over the world, and prices do vary quite a lot by country, by skill level, and sometimes simply because freelancers over or under-price themselves.

So you can either approach a freelancer directly and set up a private project with them, or you can post a project and let designers bid on it.

If you post a project, you then filter through the people who have placed bids on your project to choose who you’d like to communicate with further, and so you can choose one (or more) designers to work with.

When choosing designers, be sure to check out their work history and portfolio. It’s ideal if they’ve created book covers previously and can show you examples of their work.

And if you’re clear about what you’re looking for and find a designer who creates great work and communicates well, you can often get great designs for even less than $50.

More Great Designers to be Found at People Per Hour

Another site where you can find very talented freelancers is People Per Hour.

It’s worth noting that although it is an international site, a large proportion of the freelancers on this site are from the UK. Of course that doesn’t mean you can’t work with them if you’re outside the UK!

But be aware of time zone differences, and in particular that they’re not going to offer the kind of low prices that are available from some designers on UpWork.

Interestingly, this site also offers simple services at a set price, and it calls these Hourlies.

This way, you don’t always need to go through the process of posting a project and interviewing people. You can just purchase a ready made service and have it taken care of promptly.

Get Your Own Exclusive Pre-Made Book Cover

Author Marketing Club is an inexpensive membership site that gives advice and tools to help independent authors with writing, publishing, and promoting their books.

They offer a large number of ready made exclusive covers. You can choose one of these covers, have it customized just for you, and then either buy exclusive rights to it, or get it as a bonus when you become a paid member:

Use the Free Software Canva for Easy Book Cover Designing

Canva is free software that makes designing easy. It has all sorts of features, but one particularly relevant part of its functionality is its book cover creation.

And interestingly, instead of asking for payment up front, their business model is as follows:

You can use the software for free.
You can create your cover for free.
You can choose from over a million images available within the software, to help create your design.
However, the images have watermarks, so if you’d like to use an image for your cover, you need to pay for rights to the image so the watermark is removed. So in a way, it’s a stock photography site, with some software attached to the front!
But, if you supply your own photographs or stock images, you don’t need to pay to use those of course, so using the software then may not cost you at all.
That said, there is also an advanced version with more functionality billed monthly.
Cover Creator is Free Software for Creating Book Covers

Cover Creator is entirely free web-based software for designing book covers. It’s not the most feature-rich software but it’s a quick and easy way to get started:

Easily Design Great Covers With Book Cover Pro

Book Cover Pro is software that helps you to easily and quickly create great looking covers for your eBooks, even if you’re not technical nor particularly artistic!

There’s no free or demo version of this software on the main site, to try before you buy, but there are many testimonials on the site so if you do decide to take the plunge with this software, it looks like you’ll be in good company.

That said, currently you can download a demo version from CNET and there’s some further reviews there.

Get Your Own Exclusive Ready Made Cover

Like Author Marketing Club mentioned above, there’s two further sites you can choose ready made covers from, and get exclusive rights to one you like: Go On Write and related site Vamos Write.

Prices for covers are currently $45. You browse the covers available, and if you see one you’d like for your book (with the text changed of course), you place your order, and that cover gets customized and becomes exclusively yours to use.

This is a quick, easy and inexpensive way to get a cover you like, without all the usual back and forth of working with a designer.

The Cream of the Crop of Cover Designers

If you’ve the budget for it and are looking for the absolute best cover you can get, you may want to pay a visit to Creativ Indie Covers.

This service comes recommended from best-selling independent author Joanna Penn as she uses this service for her own books (which have sold over 300,000 copies).

Although due to the expense you may need to feel confident about your book’s sales, and have a significant marketing push lined up, before spending a large amount on a design.

You could of course start with a cheap cover to test out a book, and then upgrade the cover once it’s making sales. Although a cover can certainly affect how well a book sells, it’s not the only variable, so you may not want to jump into expensive decisions feet-first if the funds are a stretch for you at this time.

Three Bonus Resources…

While 10 is a nice round number, 13 is less so! But I would be remiss to exclude the following options too for having your cover designed:

Book Baby offers a number of services to help authors create and promote their books. Of course I’m going to focus on their eBook cover design service.

Currently, their price for design starts at $199 for a fairly basic offer, going up to $299 for more complex designs with multiple photos, textures, graphics, and unique fonts.

eBook Launch offers formatting and design services for authors to help your book look fantastic for its publication date.

The lowest price option is for premade covers. As you can see the price is double (or more) compared to other services so isn’t competitive, although you can of course browse through their options and see if a cover jumps out at you.

Whereas the higher-priced options are custom designed just for your book.

The Book Cover Designer specialize 100% in book covers for authors. You have the option of premade covers and prices vary quite a bit.

They also offer a custom design service which is very affordable starting at $90. However, the basic offer is not as flexible as other custom services. And additions to the basic service (more images for example) add to the price, so it’s best to get clear at the start of the process how much it might end up costing you.

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Best Logo Design Tools for Beginners

A logo visually represents the identity of a business and thus it plays a vital role in business’ branding. As it is a creative art that makes a brand easily identifiable, it should be articulately designed with professional expertise and creativity.

A successful design may fulfill the goals set, but a unique and enviable iconic design will have to be simple, relevant, enduring, memorable and adaptable. And to design such a logo, there are various logo designing tools available which is not only beneficial for experienced designers, but also proves to be the best for the beginners as well.

Below listed are a few best logo design tools

Logomaker: This is one of the most affordable and excellent designing tools, which facilitates designing, editing and illustrating easily as well as quickly. It has the widest library collection of icons and effects that enables creating marvelous logos easily. Some of the features of this tool include:

> This tool helps to create beautiful and exclusive logos using various icons, colors and adding text.

> Logomaker’s library includes a vast library of original graphics, colors, vector shapes, designs and fonts, which assists you to create a perfect emblem for your business.

> The logo design technology, built into logo generator, easily guides the user through the designing process.

Adobe Illustrator: This is the world’s most powerful vector graphics editor, which is incredibly supportive for professionals as well as new designers, to create professional designs and artworks. Some of the trending features of this tool are:

> It enables to create logos with greater precision.

> It is easy to recover and restore files, which is lost due to improper shutdown, illustrator crashing, operating system error or a power failure. Illustrator provides you with options to diagnose the issue and fix any errors.

> Graphics are synched with creative cloud libraries, and due to this libraries are empowered to keep everything up-to-date with the latest edits, right at the fingertips for seamless flow.

> Mercury Performance System enhancements that bring GPU acceleration to both Mac and Windows, also facilitates pan, zoom and scroll far more quickly than before.

Laughing Bird: This logo designing tool assists in creating a beautiful iconic logo, easily and instantly. You can transform a beautiful website into an awesome looking sales page in minutes. It is a simple to use tool with no complicated menus or confusing icons. Some of the best features of this tool are:

> It includes 200 ready to use and easily customizable templates, to help you to design a professional logo in no time.

> It also has built in images (all high quality graphics), that can be easily mixed and matched as desired.

Sothink logo maker: It is one of the quickest logo designing tools, used not only by professionals but also newcomers can use this stunning software to design professional looking logo. This designing software comes in 2 versions; ‘Sothink Logo Maker’ and ‘Sothink Logo Maker pro version’. The important features of this tool are:

> Both the versions provide abundant free logo elements and templates.

> They have an amazing built-in effect for one click usage.

> Both the versions support multiple formats for importing and exporting.

Logo-Smartz: This innovative and feature packed logo design software tool has an unlimited collection of icons and clipart to help you in logo designing. It provides step-by-step instructions, which is of great help to the newcomers. The amazing features of this tool are:

> This logo designing tool assists you in creating appealing and professional logo instantly, even your graphic design knowledge and experience is sparse.

> It has over 1800 high quality pre-designed logo templates which includes a broad range of professionally designed, premium quality logo templates.

> It also provides over 5000 top quality vector graphic symbols and 200+ font styles for creating logos.

> This tool has also some exciting arrangement tools which will help you manage (bring forward or take backward by one layer and group/ungroup) the logo elements in a convenient way.

Apple Motion: This is an efficient designing tool introduced by Apple Inc. It is an effective tool to create stunning effects and designs. Some of the notable features of this designing tool are:

> This logo design tool has a rich content library to create awesome designs.

> The Dynamic, real-time feedback makes it easy to experiment freely with this tool.

> It has more than 100 behaviour options to choose, to quickly animate text on or off the screens.

Jeta Logo Designer: This is a simple and easy to use logo designing tool, equally preferred by both professionals and newbie. It is recognized as fast, reliable and powerful software to design logo, web graphics and icons. Some of the best features include:

> This software has more than 5000 vector icons & shapes, nearly 400 templates for logo, 200 shape styles and much more.

> Templates can be easily customized or used as a base for new logo designs.

> It is easy to modify a logo by replacing the shapes and styles.

Corel Draw: This is one of the effective tools for designing vector graphics. Some of effective and user friendly sub-tools that come with this tool are: Corel photo-paint, Corel power-trace, Corel connect and Corel capture. The notable features of this tool are:

> This is a user-friendly tool to create stunning, unique and impactful logo designs.

> It has several new pre-defined workspaces, including Page Layout and Illustration, to help keep all your logo design tools organized and easily accessible.

> With new multi-display support, it becomes easy to move your work across multiple screens.

Adobe Photoshop: This is the most effective and efficient logo design tool that provides designers, ease of designing logos with effective artistic filters, textures, color levels, alpha masks and channels. For a newbie, this tool provides enormous support, through helpful tips and tutorials. Some of the impressive features of this tool are:

> It is a very useful and interesting tool for beginners.

> It assists in designing scalable logos without compromising on quality.

> It helps in every type of editing and designing tasks from simple retouching to complicated 3D illustrations and designs.

Conclusion:

Besides, the above listed; there are many other logo designing tools that are feature rich and extremely beneficial for both professionals as well as for beginners. These designing tools not only assist in designing impressive as well as unique logos, but also ease the task of designing.

The author is an IT professional at Ace Web Academy having years of experience in the industry. He is also proficient in imparting various IT related courses, to those seeking knowledge and efficiently contributes to the revolution going on in the information technology sector. He keeps his students updated about the new developments in this sector and doesn’t mind going beyond the regular syllabus to educate them completely with relevant and current topics.

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How An Experienced Website Designer Could Enhance Your Business

These days, there is nothing more representative of your brand than your online reputation. Of course, there are many assets to this – including social media following, content, product marketing and SEO – but the very first impression you’re likely to make is through your website.

Your web page is essentially your modern-day business card (although those can be important, too) and will reach out to prospective clients form around the globe.

Not only will you want it to represent your company ethos and unique selling point, you’ll also want to tap into the needs and wants of your target audience.

Whether you’re a new business or you’ve been operating for a while, everybody needs a little help adjusting to the sometimes daunting and ever-developing online marketplace. The internet can be a particularly perplexing tool for those who’ve been trading without it for many years.

But with the mobile, online business world comes a whole realm of opportunity. Not only will your company be able to span a much wider global reach – but it also provides an opportunity for you to effectively manage your reputation and online image.

If hearing people talk about SEO and web development leaves you scratching your head in confusion – don’t worry. You don’t necessarily need to be able to understand these things to effectively use them for your business.

Luckily for the less technologically gifted among us, there are companies all over the world now making their fortune by helping others to do their marketing goals. These companies are usually composed of experts in both technology and design – a winning combination to make your site stand out.

Not only will an outsourced designer have the creative vision and skill to make your company website look attractive to browsers, but they will also be able to make them a lot more user-friendly. There are many ways to do this, and a variety of functions that can be brought to your site to make it more streamline.

For starters, you will be able to manage all of your social media platforms in one place.

If your business isn’t operating on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, don’t panic – website designers are usually employed as part of an internet marketing team, or will else have the knowledge to be able to set these up for you as well.

Once you have established yourself across all platforms, it’s time to make life easier for your customer base by making them accessible from your page, as well as providing links to your full sites in your other Instagram, Twitter or Facebook posts.

Not only will people visiting your site be able to easily access your social media pages, but you will also be able to share content across all of your platforms – meaning you won’t have to create different content for each medium. You can link Facebook to your site, or vice versa, with relative ease.

Through your website, prospective clients will also be able to get all of your contact details quickly and easily. Plus, with the majority of people browsing on smartphones and tablets, clickable links will give an easy way for them to contact you instantly.

Not only will your target audience be able to reach out to you easily through a well-designed web page, but it can also prove an invaluable way to showcase your products and services. Remember, people are much more likely to keep browsing on a site which looks visually appealing.

If your business offers multiple services, or if you want to link your customer to affiliates or sister companies, company websites are a great way to make everything accessible from one place.

Founded in 2005, Storm Brain is now a world leader of innovative, top quality marketing. With years of experience in both the business sector and the graphic design industry, Storm Brain now boasts a vast portfolio of clients from around the world. The company offers a range of marketing, branding and creative services to businesses of every size, industry and scale, in a bid to help them fully optimise their marketing materials. Their client-focused, professional approach sets them apart from other leading agencies, whilst their highly affordable price tag means that businesses of any size can benefit from their expertise. Storm Brain uses in-house designers and technical experts, as well as outsourcing trusted vendors to provide their customers with the best possible service.

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How to Design Your Own T-Shirt With a Design Tool

Most people find it interesting to design their t-shirts, it’s a unique form of creativity that might end up being a source of income if you choose to sell the designs you have made. You can design your t-shirt anywhere, all you need is a design tool that can be accessed online.

It’s quite easy to customize your shirt with an online t-shirt design tool. The following procedures that are essential in the online design of t-shirts include the following;

1. It is important to know what you want the design of your t-shirt to represent prior to the utilization of an online t-shirt design tool. The choice of design could either reflect the goals or objective of a business or organization, it could be a promotional design, it could be a symbol to convey a particular information across to people, amongst others. The choice of design depends on the purpose for the customization. For instance, a t-shirt that is designed to promote the awareness of a business or company requires a logo. The use of logos in designs has helped to promote the awareness of so many companies. T-shirts can be designed with personal images or public domain images that are available online. Drawings can also be used for representation while designing t-shirts, the use of colors can be used to enhance how vivid the drawings are.

2. The choice of color is very important in the design of t-shirts online. The use of contrasting colors brings out the beauty of a well-designed t-shirt. It is important to know the right colors that will come out well against either a bright or dark colored background, especially when the t-shirt is printed out. Some designs look great on the computer but look terrible on the printed t-shirt. Pastel colored letterings can be outlined with a dark color to highlight the drawing or text on the t-shirt.

3. The addition of dimension while designing a t-shirt gives it extra depth, it also brightens the design of the t-shirt. Dimension can be added to a t-shirt by using t-shirt software with a manipulation of high capacity or by the utilization of Inkscape to create of a vector outline.

4. You must ensure that the design on your t-shirt is balanced, every feature present in the design must be cohesive. The cohesive features of any t-shirt design attracts the attention of people compared to a design with scattered elements.

5. Make a decision on the placement of the selected design for your t-shirt. It could be at the center, top, side or bottom of the t-shirt. You can either choose to design the front or the back of the t-shirt. The purpose of the design will determine its placement. For instance, a promotional design should be placed at the center of the t-shirt.

6. The final model of the design is edited to perfection.

T-shirts can easily be designed online for both professional and personal use by following the easy steps highlighted above.

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Top 10 Online Freelancing Marketplaces

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How To Talk To A Graphic Designer To Get What You Need

You can’t just hand an idea over to the designer and expect that she’ll come up with a final project on the spot. Anyone who’s worked on any design before knows this, but not everyone gets this. You must get involved in the process and guide the designer to get what you want. Sometimes you are the only source of information for the designer. You need to know what you want and communicate it effectively.

Make rules

When you find a designer for your project, the first thing you need to do is set a list of basic rules for managing the designing process.

You can either set one fixed deadline for the whole project, e.g. three weeks from the date of signing the contract or divide it into milestones, like “homepage design – 3 working days”. From my experience, dividing the project into smaller phases makes it easier to manage. You work on one thing at a time and you avoid the situation when you realize that your designer hadn’t started working on your project until two days before deadline.

Always keep track of deadlines. Make sure that the designer understands what needs to be done, and when you need it delivered. If deadlines are missed regularly, it’s a very bad sign. You just have to let that designer go. To ensure that deadlines are kept, you can add a paragraph to the deal about a contractual penalty for not delivering work on time.

Tip #1

Set deadlines with the designer a day or two before the deadlines you agreed on with your boss or your client. This way you can make sure that even if the designer misses the deadline by a day, you will still be able to deliver on time. Besides, you can always use this time to make additional small changes.

The second thing you need to discuss is how to give feedback to the designer. The best idea is to have short chats after sending every list of fixes. You can make sure that you both understand them the same way, and explain any misunderstandings that arise.

It’s good to agree upon a certain number of fixes for each page template. Also, ask the designer to tell you how much time she needs to make them. You can then demand delivery, but you will also become better at estimating the time needed for such fixes in the future.

When the rules are clear, you and the designer both benefit from this. You can demand certain amount of fixes that won’t make the designer feel exploited or pushed.

Prepare yourself

Before you get down to work, you need to gather all the necessary information. We work mostly on websites, so let me tell you what I always provide our web designer with.

The basic information includes what has to be created and how much time there is. If it’s a website, you need to state the number of page templates, whether it should be RWD (responsive web design), client info, such as:

– market
– size
– competitors
– short history
– services offered

as well as a short project summary, e.g. “The project includes a new website as well as logo refresh”. I also send a link to the existing website if the client has one.

Next up – all the benchmarks and inspirations for the project. Though sometimes ignored, they’re some of the most important things to do before starting a project. While presenting these to the designer, remember to always point out the elements you or the client value the most. Be it the color of a menu, shape of icons or style of images – these are all gold for the designer. They help see the general direction of the project.

Tip #2

Find out who the decision maker is. In our agency, all the designs have to go through our CEO before they can be sent to the client. I know his taste and sense of style, so I’m able to get the design accepted with (almost) no changes. Find out who that person is in your case (boss, client, etc.) and what that person likes and you’ll be closer to getting projects accepted and delivered quickly.

Last, but not least – resources. If you want to save time, you need to deliver resources. Images, infographics, logos, copy, product descriptions – all of these can be used to create new designs. The designer has the right to demand them and you need to deliver. Otherwise she’d have to spend hours searching for this stuff on the Internet instead of working on the project.

To make sure the designer knows the direction she should head for, you should think of preparing aids, such as mockups and mood boards.

Mockups are very helpful when working on a website. You don’t need to be artistically gifted. What really matters here is to show the designer which elements are more important and which ones should be higher on the layout. Mockups are a great tool to start thinking about user experience on the website. Which button leads where, which user action leads to what – it’s all vital when creating a website. The mockup can be as simple as a couple of rectangles with additional comments next to them. If you want to skip drawing, simply list all the important elements for each of the pages. Thanks to this, the designer knows what should be included on each page and can focus on putting it all in the right layout and form.

Moodboards, to be blunt, are documents with different screenshots, images and illustrations, all of which share a common narrative. It is a very effective way of showing what style the design should be done in.

The most important thing, however, is to list all the “business requirements” of the project. This means all the goals it has to achieve. Typical business requirements for an e-commerce website will be:

1. It has to be focused on selling.
2. Product offer page has to be well structured and easy to browse.
3. Checkout page should be simple and helpful.
4. “Add to cart” buttons should be clearly visible.
5. The client should be able to finish his checkout process in no more than four clicks.

No matter how hip or modern looking the website is, it won’t satisfy the client unless the above requirements are fulfilled. “The client comes first” is the most important lesson you’ll learn.

Understand feedback

When it comes to working with feedback, there are three rules to follow.

First – prioritize feedback. Not everybody’s opinion on the design matters. You need to know who the decision makers are. It’s hard to get consistent feedback when there’s more than one contact person. Couple of months ago we worked for a client who provided us with feedback from three different employees, and all of them wanted contradicting changes to the design.

Secondly, keep track of feedback. Make a list of changes the client asked for to make sure you get them done. It will help you manage the project and check if all requests have been fulfilled.

Thirdly, understand feedback. Comments such as “I don’t like it” are useless to the designer. You have every right not to like something, but you need to know why. What makes you reject it? Is it the colors? The layout? Which elements are the worst? Which could still be useful?

Take notes, write down all the things you don’t like about the design. Then confront them with the designer and make sure that you both see the project the same way. Send a list of changes you would like to make.

Feedback is what helps keep the project going in the right direction. What I’ve learned when working as a project manager is that you can’t just send or forward emails with lists of fixes, there’s much more to it if you want to work effectively.

Get it done and get it done right

If you want to get what you need and the project to be delivered on time, you must be engaged in the creative process. You need to point towards the right direction and articulate your needs. Get organized, get feedback and get the project done!

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Which Should I Choose, A Decorator Or An Interior Designer?

Whether you hire a decorator or interior designer depends on the type of project you have, and the scope of the project. If what you’re doing isn’t really a big deal, or it’s something that isn’t going to have a huge impact on the space, or you don’t see your project developing much further than say a coat of paint, or maybe it’s just a freshening up, then I would advise you to use or hire a decorator.

In the past, painters were called decorators. They were the ones that actually did the work. Then later, decorators were known as those who could help you furnish or decorate a room. As things became increasingly more sophisticated, especially in businesses and then in homes, designers came on the scene that had more education in the technical and architectural realm, as well as the health, safety, and welfare of the public. If you have the desire to, you can do further research into the development of the interior decorating and design profession, from the beginning until the present time.

Interior decorating and design is a very easily infiltrated field. It seems that anybody with a flair for color or pattern can get in to this profession and call themselves a professional. Many have just enough knowledge to make themselves dangerous to a client or potential client.

When I graduated from design school, I garnered my first job with a very high-end furniture store. My passion was for design first, and then selling the furniture and furnishings to bring out the design concept as well as the personality of the client. Store employed salespeople that had some degree of skill in decorating, while others came from very different careers and backgrounds. I found out fairly quickly, that furniture stores including very high-end furniture stores, do not really care about design or what you will get in terms of design. As furniture stores, whether or not they employ decorators or designers, their number one concern is selling you furniture. Period. I don’t care what they tell you otherwise. Their profit comes from selling you the furniture.

Independent decorators and interior designers are usually not beholden to any one particular furniture store or line of furniture. Some work through furniture stores even though they are on their own. Some work through showrooms.

Some independent decorators and interior designers, only work in their own style and look. They are comfortable working in only a certain genre. Or, they are only comfortable working with the types of furniture and styles that they personally like and are comfortable with. If you want to work with them, you are basically buying their look or what they like. So, in essence, you are buying their look or brand. In addition, everyone else that uses them gets their look and brand. So, your house may well look very similar to someone else’s house. Where is the individuality and uniqueness in that? Therefore, your personality and the look and ambiance that you want or need is partially or totally submerged by the look the decorator or designer would prefer to impose on you based on the personality and aesthetic preferences of the decorator or designer! So, whose houses it anyway? Who pays the house payment? I think you get my point here.

When it comes to selecting an interior decorator or designer, you must be careful. Realize that you can rank interior decorators and designers, in categories from kindergarten level, all the way up to Masters, Ph.D., and Doctorate. Or if you prefer, you can rank them from 1 to 10; 10 being the highest. To judge properly you have to know what you’re looking for and what constitutes the top-level in interior design.

If you need a level 8 to 10 interior, don’t mistakenly hire a level 7 designer. Taking a quote from one of Clint Eastwood’s movies, “A man (or woman’s) got to know their limitations.” If you as a client don’t know the decorator or designers limitations, relative to what you need, then the next line from one of Clint Eastwood’s movies is appropriate to you. “Are you feeling lucky?” Well, you’re going to need a lot a luck if your interior decorator or designer is underpowered and lacking in talent and ability. It’s, like the buying good sports car. You’re buying it for the excitement and pleasure of driving it, as well as looking at it, and admiring it.

To use the sports car analogy further, you always want a car with more horsepower and speed than you really need. This is important especially if you need to get out of a bind real quick, vs. getting stuck between a guard-rail and a truck and ultimately getting squished. That would be a bad day.

It’s also will very much like health or life insurance. It’s better to have it and not need it; than to need it and not have it. Both analogies point to the fact that it’s better to have more than less. This is also important from a peace-of-mind and safety aspect. I know that there’s a famous design saying that, “Less is more,” as it applies to minimalist design. However, in most categories of life, it is much better to have more than less, as well as having more than you need. This applies to oxygen, money, health, and food, etc. It’s also kind of like the saying, “There’s safety in numbers.”

A lot of the automotive commercials say, “Best in its class.” My first question is “What class you are in?” or “What class are you in, which you are the best in?” This is what you have to do with every interior decorator or designer that you are considering for hire. You need to find out what “class” they are in, what they actually do, how they do it, how they think, what is their design philosophy, and how do they set you up for success.

Getting the right designer for you and your project is critical to your success! In truth, it is very much like a mini marriage. Therefore, you had better get it right! You don’t want to end up in design divorce court. There’s too much at stake and your money needs to be invested wisely for design, as well as furniture and furnishings. As they say, “You get what to pay for.”

To use a quote from John Ruskin, “It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money; that’s all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little in getting a lot-it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the rest of you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”

Finally, a great quote from Red Adair that is so appropriate to hiring the right designer for you. “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

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