You enjoy designing, but there are some projects that are difficult from the beginning. If you find yourself in this situation, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together some tips to help you get through those complex design projects faster and better!
1). Inspiration: Where to Find It?
In the past, designers used design “look-books,” which were catalogues of design ideas, classified by the type of work: brochure, poster, etc. These days, you can use Google to research design options. This is a fast and free method to gain some inspiration.
OK, we don’t mean you should literally sit and dribble! No! What we’re referring to is Dribble, the site for designers. You can create an account and have access to a designer’s paradise. Here you’ll find a site dedicated to inspiring and helping designers around the world find just that very idea they were looking for.
Designers create an account, and then share their creations and ask for feedback from other designers. It’s a very active community that may just offer solutions for that idea you’ve been trying to develop.
3). Follow the Right Designers & Companies
Use social media to find and follow inspiring designers and companies. You can also stay on top of designer news and events, new developments in design elements and much more.
This is another free, fast way to find inspiration on a regular basis. Everything shows up in your feed, making it fast and easy to see what’s new, etc.
4). New Ideas to Chew On
If you really want to open up to new inspirations and ideas, then find new material and new ideas to feed your mind. Most of us tend to follow and read the same types of blogs, videos, etc. We don’t branch out—we stay where we’re comfortable and feed our “likes.” But what happens when you “eat” the same things over and over? Yes…you got it…boredom and lack of inspiration—the same types of designs over and over.
Make an effort to get out of your comfort zone and explore new ideas and design elements. Choose to read/watch things you may not normally. However, don’t jump into things that are against your beliefs or that you find awful/horrible. No, we’re just saying test the waters in a new design element you might enjoy. Broaden your perspectives a little bit to gain new inspirations and ideas.
5). Work Smarter, Not Harder
Here are some tips to help you work a little smarter, which could speed up the design process:
Use layout books: all designs are based on good layouts, so invest in some good layout books to help answer those nagging design questions that sometimes take up so much of your time.
- Sketch by hand: before you even pick up the mouse or a digital pen, sketch the design idea out by hand on paper. OK, we understand this is old-fashioned, but consider this. A hand moving a pen moves much faster than a hand moving a mouse. Plus, you’ll have an idea of how the design will look on the screen.
- Decide on the design style in the beginning: make this decision early on to save time and energy. You’ll have the basic foundation chosen and then you can work more quickly from here.
6). Invest in a faster computer
This one can be difficult, but it is an important aspect of designing. A faster computer can help you work faster. If you have a slow computer, you become frustrated waiting for it load Photoshop, images, etc. A faster computer can ease this frustration, helping you get work done faster.
While you may not be able to race out and buy a faster computer right this minute, start saving for one. While you’re saving money, look around for the best computers with the specifications you need and want. Not only will this help you choose the right machine, but you’ll also have an idea of how much a new computer will cost.
7). Get some rest
If you become overly tired, you slow down as you try to work. That’s a fact. Being well rested helps your brain work faster and come up with better ideas. We understand being a freelancer isn’t easy and you need to have several jobs lined up ahead to keep your income on target. But getting enough rest is like putting money in the bank. Not only will you work faster and smarter, but your body will be in better shape so you can avoid getting sick.
Aim for 8 hours of sleep a night, as often as possible, and take short breaks throughout the day. If you can, it might also help to work a nap into the middle of your day! Just find the level of rest that works best for you and try to stick with that as much as possible.
8). Choose the right clients
This isn’t always easy, but choosing the right clients to work with can make a project go more smoothly and faster. Ask these questions to help you zero in the right clients:
- Do you like my portfolio?
- What is your budget for this project? I usually charge around X and Z for this type of work.
- How soon would you like to start? What is your timeline for this project?
- Are you comfortable with making a down payment (specify percentage) for this project?
9). Offer clients a choice
Always create more than one (at least two) design proposals for the client to review. Not only is this good customer service, but it will help you save time, too. Offering two or more designs gives your client a choice, rather than forcing them into a yes or no scenario. You can find which elements they prefer, which design they like best, etc. This speeds up the entire design process.
10). Handle complaints like a professional
This isn’t the easy part of dealing with a client. In fact, dealing with complaints can be quite difficult. However, how you handle a complaint will display your level of professionalism to the client.
Avoid becoming defensive. Apologise when you’re at fault. If the relationship becomes too difficult, then it might be time to refer them to another designer. In this case, it’s best to refund them at least 50% of what they’ve paid you.
These tips can help all types of design projects you have going—from the complex to the easy. Providing professional support for your client, while taking care of yourself and looking for new inspiration can help you work smarter and better in the long-term.
Liam is a website designer and digital marketer based in Leeds, West Yorkshire. He spent a decade working within the charity sector before moving into the marketing space a number of years ago. Liam always strives to do something slightly different with every project and always designs to deliver results, not just pretty websites.