DailyDesignAdvice.com has partnered with DesignM.ag to bring you an exciting new series showcasing prime design advice. Each week we’ll be doling out 10 useful, bite-sized tips on a variety of design-related subjects to help you become a more productive, knowledgeable and successful designer. To get the party started, we’ve got 10 tips for web designers for your reading pleasure. From typography to audience to branding to usability, I’m 100% certain that you’ll find something of interest here. Since this is a brand-new series, be sure to let us know what you think about it (including any suggestions you have) in the comments. Enjoy!
Your user should always come first. Whatever rules you’re thinking of following or breaking, always ask yourself if it’s going to help or hinder your user. If you keep their needs and preferences in mind, no matter what rule you break, your site will still likely be successful within your target demographic.
One of the fundamentals of any design – be it web or print – is that it’s the audience that counts, not you. With that in mind, the one golden rule of thumb web designers should remember when carefully crafting their sites is that the second they’re launched into cyberspace, they’re global.
If you want to crack a certain problem but you’re not sure exactly how to do it, put it out as a question. A designer and a developer working together on a demo product or article is always better than a single person trying to do everything (and feeling out of their element). Duos can be highly successful, and even if the team is formed just for a one-off, collaboration lets you deliver products while getting to know the working styles of others.
At the beginning of the day, faced with an overflowing inbox, a list of messages on your voicemail, and the to-do list from your last meeting, it’s tempting to want to “clear the decks” before you start on your own most important work. When you’re up-to-date, you tell yourself, your mind will be clear and it will be easier to focus on the task at hand.The trouble with this approach is that you end up spending the best part of the day on other people’s priorities, running their errands, and giving them what they need. By the time you finally settle down to your own work, it could be mid-afternoon, when your energy has dipped and it’s hard to focus on anything properly. “Oh well, maybe tomorrow will be better,” you tell yourself.
“Better” is generally what consumers are looking for, but “better” in itself isn’t a marketing strategy. Brands must demonstrate why they’re “better” – how they make life for consumers easier, safer, healthier, more fun or whatever their unique selling proposition might be. Leveraging the power of design across all aspects of your brand establishes and sustains your competitive advantage.
I read somewhere a few years back that for every hour you work, you should get up off your chair for at least five minutes or more. As mentioned it can be hard to get up and walk around if you are in the middle of a design, research and so on, but this is very important. I started using this practice myself some time back and immediately saw improvements in my productivity. If it’s hard to keep track of time you should get a time management app, timer or even use the alarm on your cellphone to remind you of this.
Design is often seen as a subjective and creative pursuit. I tend to agree, but feel that the more subjective and detached you are from specific strategic goals, the more problems will arise. If there’s any ambiguity regarding how something should be used and how visuals are incorporated to your advantage, you should expect a lot of waste.
When you’re in the early stages of a project, you often spend a lot of time gathering materials and finding inspiration. But there are so many possible sources of inspiration online that it can work against you. Instead, turn off your computer and pick up a pen and paper. Brainstorm about possibilities. Create mind-maps. Beyond that, go outside and look for some inspiration. Or pick up a book or magazine (better yet: go to your local library or bookstore and peruse the stacks there). Find things to inspire and motivate you offline. In many cases, you can come up with a more directed vision for the project if you get rid of distractions.
Almost all of us listen to music. We listen at home, while working, on the subway, while driving, while running. Yet many of us don’t think of music as much more than entertainment. Did you know that you can use music as a tool? With the right music, you can increase effectiveness, create better stuff more easily, get into your creative zone quickly and kick-start a productive day. Add music to your workflow for better results.