The greatest place to start is at the beginning, especially because it’s easy to get out on the wrong foot with a new design project if you dive in too eagerly and let excitement overpower a methodical and steady approach. When you’re new, it’s easy to fall into this trap. Getting a design project off to a good start is frequently critical to its success. As you get started, there are a lot of things to think about.
Just go for it.
Above all, remember to get started. We often get caught up in the preceding processes and concerns, seemingly stuck on “Pause.” We wait because we don’t know where or how to start or because the amount of steps necessary in the beginning overwhelms us. To test the waters, we aim to cover everything before pushing forward. However, the community as a whole agrees: go for it!
Do it right now, whatever it is.
Stop reading advice and go make something that communicates.
Stop putting it off and get started right away!
The most terrifying part is always right before you begin.
Fear not, do it anyhow, fail, and try again.
Stop wasting time and just get started.
Don’t give it too much thought.
Begin with a pencil and a piece of paper.
Another popular piece of advise, which was mentioned several times in the responses we got, is to focus on how to start rather than whether to start. For many in the web developer world, unplugging from the computer and going analog is the only way to get started on a project.
In the early stages of a project, a pen and paper technique is preferred since it delivers a fresh, focused perspective right away. If the computer apps are released too soon, you may be unsure where to begin or even overwhelmed by the sheer number of options. Suddenly, instead of focusing on the images you want to utilize to sell the idea, you’re focusing on bargaining strategies and changes, and visual takes a back seat.
- Instead of using a mouse and keyboard, start with a pen and paper.
- On paper, the best ideas are born.
- Always begin with a pencil and a sheet of blank paper. That is the most effective method for obtaining the top designs.
- My best design suggestion is to start on paper with a nice sharp pencil instead than using your Mac, PC, or apps.
- Before you utilize a computer, sketch out a concept with a pencil and paper.
- Always begin your design on paper. Sketching has a lot of power.
- Drawing out your thoughts at the start of a project can actually assist you come up with a decent design.
- Always begin with a piece of paper.
- Make sketches on paper rather than in design software to ensure that your ideas are not limited by your present technological skills.
- Plan and prototype your user interface and functionality on paper first when designing for the Web.
- Turn off your computer and get back to fundamentals; initial sketches done with good old-fashioned ink and paper are unbeatable.
- Start with pen and paper and only use software once you’ve figured out exactly what you’re going to do.
- When I design, I like to sketch out concepts on a large sheet of paper and put down the functionality of the product I’m trying to create.
Pay close attention to deadlines when you begin your assignment. Many in the industry agree that they pay little or no regard to deadlines that have been set—usually by the customer and based on specific needs—for whatever reason. Unfortunately, this reflects poorly on the entire field, not just those who choose to flout deadlines. As a result, respecting a contract is important beyond the project itself.
Of course, we shouldn’t overwork ourselves by keeping deadlines in the forefront of our minds, but we also shouldn’t neglect requested timelines. Deadlines should linger in the background of our minds, not aggressively interfering but rather serving as a gentle reminder that we have a timetable to follow. For some, a deadline is a motivator, while for others, it is simply the finish point. If they didn’t have to meet a deadline, some designers would redesign indefinitely.
- Set realistic deadlines; great design takes time (then multiply by two).
- Make sure you don’t have exactly enough time to complete your design work.
- Listen to your customers so you may truly understand what they require and when they require it.
The age-old piece of advise to “keep it simple, dumb” was by far the most common answer we received from our Twitter followers. KISS is recommended across a variety of industries, and it is more relevant than ever in the design profession. Design is a dynamic and communicative discipline in which a large number of pieces join together to express a message. However, the more elements you include in a design, the more congested it becomes, and the more likely the message becomes jumbled. As a result, make your presentation as simple as feasible while yet communicating effectively.
- Stupid, keep things simple.
- Simplicity is always preferable. Make it visible rather than visual.
- The objective of a designer is to convey in the most straightforward manner feasible.
- For uncluttered designs, I like to utilize the rule of threes: use three typefaces (maximum), three pictures, and three colors.
- The KISS principle (keep things simple, stupid) is my favorite design tip.
- More beneficial than flashy and cluttered is clean, clear, and concise! Make it wonderful by clearing the clutter.
- Keep your designs minimal so that people’s attention is drawn to the information.
- Simple and uncluttered!
- For a good design, I suggest using a maximum of two fonts and few colors to keep it simple and avoid confusion.
- Don’t make a design too complicated. According to Occam’s razor, the simplest explanation is almost always the correct one.
- It’s all too typical to make the simple difficult. Creativity is the ability to make the complex simple—awesomely simple. That is the art of design.
- Remove anything that isn’t serving a function. In the end, extra graphics are just a nuisance.
There’s a lot of empty space.
Another popular remark we heard was concerning white space, which falls under the K.I.S.S. umbrella. White space is crucial, yet it seems to evade many designers who feel compelled to cram everything they can into every available inch. However, there is a lot to be said for utilizing white space and avoiding the design sin of needless clutter. White space allows page elements, as well as those who view the page, to breathe. Adding white space to a cluttered design will help to reduce the strain.
- Images aren’t always necessary, and empty space can be just as (or even more) impactful. Make the most of the available area.
- “The best design is the least amount of design feasible.”
- Less is more in this case.
- “Reduce, decrease, reduce,” was the best design advice I ever received. When you can’t think of anything else to take away, you’re done.
- Make use of white space and deep, calming colors.
- White space isn’t something to be terrified of.
- Remember to provide enough white space and follow the recommendations.
- White space is equally as important as content when it comes to design.
- Avoid using too many photos, backdrops, or flashy fonts on your page. Maintain a straightforward approach.
- There is no such thing as wasted space when it comes to white space.
- Don’t feel obligated to use all of the available space; cramming in every type of media, full of irrelevant details, won’t help you.
- White space, on the other hand, is your ally, not your foe.
Color is another thing to think about. Every design has a number of color concerns, the most important of which is the intended message.
Color plays an important role in communication, and several of the suggestions stressed this. Designers must have at least a basic understanding of color theory and how to apply color to a website.
Many people assume that using too many colors will make a design needlessly complicated, reducing its efficacy.
- Please use less color.
- Here’s a color scheme that a non-designer can use right away:
- Begin with a base color, then select darker and lighter shades, adjusting saturation but not hue.
- Color isn’t anything to be terrified of.
- When selecting colors for a customer, do so beside a window; the sun is universal, but inside lighting isn’t.
- In a color pallet, simplicity is key; work within shades for greater variation. The year 2011 has been dubbed the “less is more” year.
- When selecting a color scheme, make sure that adjacent items contrast rather than match (e.g. white walls and black curtains).
The Curve of Learning
Another topic that came up repeatedly was the steep learning curve that comes with the job. Basically, we should never stop learning as designers. We must always seek out knowledge and find ways to improve our abilities and techniques in order to stay relevant in this ever-changing sector. We have little cause to fall behind with the amount of material the community produces to assist us in maintaining that knowledge base.
- Never stop learning new things.
- Learning is similar to the horizon in that it has no bounds (a Chinese proverb). This, I believe, applies to design.
- Never stop learning new things.
- Develop your desire to learn.
- With each new project, strive to learn something new and push your limits.
At all times, keep the user in mind. This was a common occurrence. The be-all and end-all of project requirements is usability. Form and flair are wonderful, but they should be examined if they impair the design’s usability in any way. Because most websites are interactive in some fashion, usability and user experience must take precedence above aesthetics or the project will fail (to some degree, at least).
You must also concentrate on the user in order to determine what to design in the first place. Building a decent website will be difficult if you don’t know who you’re developing for. Maintain a sense of intuitive interactivity as you create, so that any user may navigate the website with ease right away.
- Make designs that are appealing to the eye, but not at the sacrifice of utility.
- It doesn’t matter how beautiful the design is if it isn’t useful and difficult to locate.
- Consider the user’s perspective.
- Form comes after function!
- An audience analysis is the starting point for all designs. How can you be sure they’ll get it if you don’t know who you’re designing for?
- Don’t undervalue your users.
- Design for the end user rather than the customer. At the end of the day, everyone will be satisfied.
- It may be tedious, but here’s a tip: form should always follow function! If the user can get what they want in the way they desire, it’s good design.
- First and foremost, consider the user, and then design accordingly.
- The user experience takes precedence over all other considerations.
- It’s not beneficial if it can’t be used.
- The key to producing simple, usable designs is understanding.
- Understand the users, the design’s purpose, and the company’s objectives.
This following piece of advice would be near the top of the list if we were to rank the tips we heard in order of significance. The advice is straightforward but crucial: preserve your work. Save frequently. It’s normal to forget this tidbit when you’re caught up in the excitement of a project and the flow has you in its grip, propelling you ahead with hardly a chance to catch your breath. However, if you do, it will come back to bite you. It’s easy to lose track of time while at work, and it’s also easy to forget to save as you go. It only takes a split second for a malfunction in your system or app to cause you to lose hours of work. When it happens to you, you’ll realize how crucial this counsel is.
- Frequently use Command + S.
- SOS: save a lot of money, idiot.
- Design with simplicity in mind, and save your work often.
- Always remember to save your work.
- Early and often backups are recommended.
- Always remember to save. It’s the most basic and practical advice I can give.
- A system failure or a computer crash are no match for your design skills. Save and back up your digital masterpieces on a regular basis!
Keep the flame of inspiration going is another popular recommendation for anyone working in a field where a fresh and unique voice goes a long way. Design is no exception. Inspiration is crucial, and the design community goes to great lengths to ensure that it never runs dry. To keep their creative edge, designers spend endless hours looking for general and project-specific sources of inspiration.
Keep in mind that inspiration can strike at any time, so be ready to seize it.
- Remember that creative inspiration can strike at any time, including while you’re in the shower or on the toilet, so don’t be alarmed if it does.
- Make sure you’re not designing in a vacuum. Get ideas from other people, both online and in person.
- Keep a notebook on you at all times; you never know when inspiration will strike.
- Keep your eyes open because inspiration can come from the most unexpected places.
- With your eyes, you can eat the world.
- Don’t take or replicate other people’s ideas, but be inspired by them.
- Take your notebook with you wherever you go (bed, bath, washroom…).
Get out of here!
Getting away from the computer, according to several of our followers, can help you replenish your creative batteries. Unplugging and getting some fresh air can help to refresh your thoughts and outlook. Your mind disconnects from the surroundings it regularly grinds away in when you reconnect with nature. By removing stress and creative blockages from your thoughts, you may be able to make significant progress when you return to work.
- Take a break from work and have some fun to re-energize and inspire yourself.
- It’s rare to find inspiration at your desk.
- Don’t limit your sources of inspiration to the internet. Take a notepad and a pen to the library, go on a photo walk outside, or people-watch.
- Nature, not Google Image search, provides inspiration.
Don’t Push It
You want your ideas to feel organic and natural, not like a machine churned-out paint-by-numbers construction. If you aren’t inspired, it will reflect in your work. Of course, with deadlines and everything, we don’t always have the luxury of waiting for inspiration to strike, and there are times when we must work anyway. But, for the most part, we should encourage innovation so that we don’t have to rely on it.
- Allow it to flow; if you strive too hard, it will appear fussy.
- Don’t push yourself too much. It will simply come to you and make you look that much better as a result.
- When you’re stuck, take a break from the project for a time and come back to it with fresh ideas and perspectives.
Many people mentioned the importance of layout in their replies. Layout is critical when a design has a lot to accomplish aesthetically. Clickable items and accessible depths are only part of what functional design entails. The majority of it boils down to graphics and interactivity, both of which are important to the design’s function.
- Keep the main point in mind at all times.
- As far as feasible, make your copy layout the foundation of your design. It makes no difference if the message is illegible.
- Produce comps in both black and white and color so clients can see the differences in layout, color, and style.
- For appropriate layout and location, use this basic rule: make sure everything can be split by four.
- To evaluate a graphical layout, use the “squint test”: structure, contrast, spatial relationships, and usability.
The Grid is a set of rules that governs
The grid is a guiding force that most designers follow and encourage when it comes to layout. The grid enables a considered and systematic approach to laying out parts and ensuring that they work together to create a finished and effective design. The grid isn’t a substitute for clean, professional design for many designers. Others use the grid to build the original layout but don’t stick to it; they’re free to violate the grid if they think it will help the design.
- It’s always a good idea to design in a grid structure. Maintain your organization.
- Before moving on to free-form design, lay a sturdy foundation by utilizing the power of the modular grid. It’s more natural!
- The invisible grid: it’s just as vital to see what you don’t see as it is to see what you do.
- Always make use of a grid. Then make certain you break it.
- You won’t be able to make good designs until you fully comprehend the grid.
- Don’t leave things to chance when it comes to page layout. Always make use of a grid.
- Make use of a grid. It does not restrict you; rather, it assists you in making judgments.
- Keep an eye on the grid.
Hierarchy of Images
Create a visual hierarchy within the piece as you put out a design and place various pieces. The communication with users is a key aspect of every design. Assemble a hierarchy to assist the user and to emphasize interactive and navigable features. Users will feel left behind, disoriented, or overwhelmed if there are no clues or attention grabbers.
Some users may only take a few seconds to figure it out, but they are compensating for the designer’s flaws.
- Every page should have a visual anchor, something that draws the user in and takes center stage in the design.
- Make sure the elements are arranged in a logical order. What to look at first, second, and third should be obvious.
- Maximize the effectiveness of the experience by placing controls and content in strategic locations and focusing attention where it matters most.
- Always check your design in grayscale. You’ll get a sense of hierarchy and actual contrast.
- Have faith in your senses. You should reposition them if they aren’t naturally drawn to the crucial portions of the layout.
Outsiders—those helpful folks who aren’t necessarily involved with the project (or even the field) but can contribute vital perspective and suggestions for improvement—shouldn’t be underestimated or ignored. An outsider’s perspective will be unencumbered by the minutiae that we designers obsess over. Don’t forget to get feedback from the community and future users during the design phase.
- Don’t be scared to seek out the advice of others.
- There’s no such thing as too much proofreading. Get other individuals to look through your work as well.
- Consider feedback from those who aren’t in your creative group; users and customers are crucial.
- Tell a friend about your new design project and get their feedback.
- Make a note of the suggestions.
Typography, according to our followers, is another important aspect of design. No aspect should be treated as an afterthought, but typography is all too often treated as such. Improperly applied type detracts from a design, whether the sizing or color is off, or the text is plain unintelligible.
- Although white text on a dark background appears nice, it is impossible to read.
- Never use Arial and always use a nice typeface like Helvetica. Invest in some killer fonts if you’re a designer.
- Text should never be underlined.
- Your design will stand out if you use the proper font.
- Check to see if your website still functions when fonts are enlarged.
- This is a major (and often neglected) issue that causes websites to crash.
- Improve your typography skills. It distinguishes the amateurs from the professionals.
- Browsers, weak monitors, and search engines can and will resize and mutilate your type. Make preparations.
To make a website stand out, it must be unique. Knowing the rules of design so that you can purposely break them is one method to generate unique work. How would you know whether you’re being innovative and not just following well-worn roads if you don’t grasp the basic rules?
- Don’t limit yourself to what’s popular right now. Originality entails stepping outside of one’s comfort zone.
- Make an effort to develop your own personal style! Be unique in your approach.
- While looking for inspiration is important, you should also learn to include more of your own ideas. It will turn you become a true designer.
- It’s all about knowing when to follow the rules and when to defy them when it comes to design.
- Take inspiration from others, but don’t try to be them. It is critical to develop your own personal style.
- Be unique in your approach.
- Learn the principles of your trade in depth so you’ll know when to abandon them afterwards.
- Rules, recommendations, and tricks are all well and good, but rules were made to be broken. Be unique, yet do what feels and appears appropriate.
- Never be scared to ignore trends; they are created by visionaries who share your viewpoint.
Your Gut Feelings Should Be Trusted
You employ your voice since it is the most distinguishing feature of your designs. Learn to believe in it, and more importantly, learn to trust it. You earned the job because of your skills and creative expertise, and you need to trust that your intuition will lead to a successful project.
- When put together, design advice appears to be a mantra. If you’re as cynical as I am, this is counterproductive. Trust your gut feelings.
- Don’t look at it. It’s all right!
- Trust your gut feelings.
- Before looking for a guide to master a new technique, give it a shot.
- You’ll almost always learn more this way.
- Trust yourself, but give yourself time to think about it.
- Trust your instincts.
Relax and unwind.
Every project necessitates taking breaks. Deadlines are crucial, but so is the refreshed frame of mind that comes with being rested (as described previously). If you’ve been slaving away with your nose to the grindstone for hours, you owe it to your clients, yourself, and the project to take a break. Allow the design to rest for a day or two before evaluating its appeal and efficacy. When you think you’ve reached the finish of a project, this is very vital.
- Consider it the next day when you’ve had some time to think about it.
- Stop as soon as you think you’re finished. Take at least a four-hour pause. Return and re-evaluate.
- The design will never be completed. Continue to work on improving what you’ve made. It will improve from decent to superb.
- Allow a project to stew for a day or two before returning to revise it. It’s critical even when operating under pressure.
- Take a break once you’ve “completed” your design, then return to it to examine what parts don’t need to be there.
Get some sleep. We need to be aware and have keen brains as designers. We can produce the fresh, cutting-edge work that our clients expect when we are well rested. And, no matter how many energy drinks we consume, one of the finest ingredients for mental clarity is a good night’s sleep. You will not be revitalized by tossing and turning for hours because you are thinking about the task that awaits you.
Allow yourself to relax and turn off the project for the evening (or whenever it is that you sleep).
- More sleep is required.
- Make sure you get enough rest.
- If you have the luxury of consulting your pillow, take advantage of it! Mornings are smarter than evenings.
A Few More To Take With Me On The Road
We received so many more great pieces of advise that we wanted to share them with you without going into too much detail. So, here are a few more suggestions from the Web design community for you to consider. Thank you to all of our Twitter followers who offered their favorite pieces of advice, and thank you for taking the time to read through this lengthy compilation.
- Start thinking “dialogue” instead of “campaign.”
- Presets, actions, configurable panels, and grid layouts can save you hours of time if you optimize your workflow for them.
- A design has 56 seconds to attract the attention of the viewer. This can be solved by using a slideshow with call-to-action buttons.
- Not to stay in your comfort zone, but to suit the needs of the client.
- A one-pixel line can drastically alter the vibe of a design.
- Allowing yourself to make mistakes is an important part of being creative. Knowing which mistakes to keep in mind when designing is essential.
- Literature can assist you with your design. Invest in outstanding publications like The Smashing Book and The Non-Design
- Designer’s Book.
- Make sure you ask the proper questions.
- There is no fold in the fabric.
- The devil, like love, is in the details when it comes to design. Paying attention to the finer points of a design can elevate it from good to great.
- Every design you develop should excite you. That enthusiasm will make a huge difference.
- Nothing is bold if you make everything bold.
- Half of your time should be spent learning, half should be spent doing, and half should be spent teaching. Then take a break.
- Consistency is what defines identity. Always keep your picture, message, colors, and fonts in sync throughout all creative mediums.
- If there is any uncertainty that your website will work, start over or don’t deliver, regardless of how long it takes to plan, design, and produce.
- Before you begin, consider your options. You’ve already failed if you don’t.
- The most useful CSS attribute that designers overlook is word-wrapping: break-word; word-wrap
- “Be consistent,” as they say, is the mother of all design advice.
- Always keep in mind CRAP’s four essential principles: contrast, repetition, alignment, and closeness.
- Teach your client, then educate them again, and then educate them again! A client that isn’t well-informed can be a major roadblock in your design process.
- Don’t just stop at a question. Respond to it.
- Pen, paper, eraser, ruler, coffee, end users, and other people’s viewpoints are your best tools.
- The idea is to create something that will last forever, not to live forever.
- Failure is not the end of the road. It is, in fact, the beginning.
We, the design community, are always on the lookout for new information and learning opportunities—anything that will help us improve our abilities and pass on the wisdom we’ve accumulated over the years. Given that most of us have gotten where we are because of the shared advice we’ve gathered along the road, ideas like these can be useful tools for supporting professional advancement, which is something we all aspire for. It also contributes to the community’s growth and improvement. As a result, rather than hoarding them, they should be freely shared.
Links & Related Materials
When we asked for design advice, many of the responses came in the form of links and basic art and design theories. Our readers felt that designers should be well-versed in this information, so we’ve tucked it in at the end so it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.