Having been a designer for several years, I have worked with people from multiple backgrounds and on a variety of interesting projects, which range from simple digital banners to extensive branding exercises. Each one of them is a great learning experience and a good source of knowledge and inspiration to feed the creative soul. I’ve also come to realise that where there is good, there’s also bad. Below are three pieces of advice designers should follow with caution:
1. Make It Pretty
In the early days of my career, I was guilty of prioritising form over function when it should have been the other way around. Now, don't get me wrong, this is not a ‘Go’ signal for designers out there to compromise aesthetics. What I'm saying is that design is not all about making the shiniest visuals out of layers upon layers of Photoshop effects. Designers often make the mistake of thinking that as long as their designs are beautiful to look at, this makes them the best solution.
A beautiful landing site for a website will intrigue your audience but if they can't navigate easily or find what they're looking for, they won't stick around. Pretty visuals mean nothing if you can't engage your audience. Next time you choose a font, make it a point to consider where it will be used and who will be reading it — not just because it's cute to look at or it's the trendiest new font to use. Good design is pretty; great design is effective.
2. Do It Right The First Time
In the design industry, deadlines are a constant pressure and creating something safe is an easy way to make sure you always deliver on time. This is also the fastest way to burn out as a design professional.
It's easy to be complacent and do the same visual strategy for every creative brief just to meet the deadline. One of the best ways to deal with this dilemma is to involve the client in the creative process. When they are involved and aware of how design is created, they are more appreciative of the work, and understand that it takes time and a lot of blood, sweat and tears to deliver something extraordinary. Whenever possible, always generate and experiment with many ideas — the best results often come from trial and error.
3. Don't Give Away Your Secrets
Designers tend to be very protective of their work, and by being so they make their designs monotonous and repetitive. One of the best ways to remain relevant is to share what you've learned.
Stand on someone's shoulders and let them stand on yours in return. When you share your work and your processes to the world, others will show you ways to improve your craft and give you helpful feedback so you can further develop your skills.