Imagination is our power

Archive for September, 2012

How to Deal with Creative Differences with Clients

For a techie, one of the not so nice aspects of being a freelancer is the fact that you have to work with clients. When you work for an agency, most of this is handled by the account executive and sometimes you don’t have to deal with the client at all. However, when you work for yourself as a freelancer or as a business owner, you do have to deal with clients.

While very often this won’t be a big thing, there are cases, such as when you have creative differences with a client, when you certainly would benefit from any advice how to handle these situations smoothly. I don’t claim the solutions I offer are the best but as my experience shows, they do help to deal with creative differences in a civilized manner.

The Client Is(n’t) Always Right – Why Creative Differences Could Be Good

First, let’s clarify that creative differences aren’t necessarily bad. In fact, they frequently help to make a better product. Client input can be really valuable. You might have decades of experience but still there are always cases when the client has a better idea than you do – be it for a small detail, or even for the design as a whole.

You need to accept this as normal. The worst mistake you can make is to take it personally. No, almost always the client isn’t attacking you, your knowledge, or your skills.

On the other hand, if you believe the client is always right, this isn’t so either. You are supposed to know more about design than the client. This means that when the client has a ridiculous idea, you don’t have to say “Yes, Sir/Madam” all the time just to please him or her. When the client has disastrous ideas and you follow them, the end result will be failure, which in turn will hardly please the client.

As you see, things are not black and white. Sometimes the client is right, sometimes you are right. You both just need to find a way to communicate your thoughts, so that you can arrive at a solution that will make the project great rather than get involved in an ego fight.

Discuss and Explain Your Points of View

The major way to understand each other is to discuss and explain your points of view. Very often this is all it takes to solve differences of any kind. Here are some points to consider:

A suggestion or demand might sound ridiculous till you hear the reasoning behind it

Not everybody is able to verbalize his or her thoughts precisely and this is a common reason for confusion. When you add to this the fact that generally clients are not familiar with design terminology, it is quite possible that what the client really means is quite different from what you think he or she means. For instance, you might find it ridiculous to have fancy fonts for text because you think the text is the text body itself, while the client in reality wants fancy text for the slogan, or for some quotations you will put as an image inside the text. You just need to clarify what each of you means. When you do it, it might turn out you have no creative differences at all!

Accept that the other party also has likes and dislikes

You might be a genius designer but this doesn’t mean everybody else, your clients included, is a loser with no sense of colors and composition. You like red and orange, your client likes blue and green. You like rounded corners and headlines with a background, your client prefers things simpler. These are all natural and they are not a reason to fight. If you are working on your personal project, you are free to choose everything you want but when you work for a client, you do need to respect his or her likes and dislikes.

The worst you can do is to start convincing the client about the cuteness of red and orange and of rounded corners and headlines with a background. You might manage to force your view on the client but basically this is useless – the client will hardly be happy simply because he or she likes different things. Of course, if the client wants a disastrous combination, you should try to convince him or her this combination is not OK but try to use hard facts for it. For instance, you can say that these shades of green and blue don’t go well together and offer to replace them with other shades of green and blue that are a better match.

I remember once I was designing a site for a friend of mine. The guy was obsessed with black backgrounds but I somehow managed to convince him black is not user friendly – text on a dark background is more difficult to read and besides, black is too necrophilic and makes the whole site look depressing. As far as I remember, the site had dark blue background as a compromise for a while because dark blue is less depressing than black, though it is still far from what I would personally choose as a background but later he decided that it is black and nothing else. Of course, I wouldn’t take a gun and make him remove the black background – if he likes it that much, let’s leave it like that, the world won’t end.

Don’t throw in your decades of expertise as a proof you are right

Sometimes it feels easier to convince a client you are right because you have lots of experience. While there are many cases when years of experience can help you, basically clients aren’t interested in this.

When they don’t like something, they don’t care about the hundreds and thousands of sites you have made. If you can use your experience to convince a client something is wrong (i.e. my attempt to convince my friend that many experts think that all equal light text on dark background is more difficult to read, though there are others who don’t think so), this is fine. But if you throw in your experience as an argument per se, it feels like you are telling a child “I’m right because I’m older!”, don’t expect a client in his or her right mind will accept this.

Both of you might need to make concessions

Compromise is the ground to mutual understanding. Of course, it depends on what you have to compromise. If the client wants really stupid things (i.e. text body in 20px font size because this will make it easy to read) and won’t negotiate, there isn’t much room for compromise and you might have to resort to the advice into the last section of the article.

If I continue the example with the site of that friend of mine, the concession he made in exchange for the black background was that he gave up on his idea of animation and sounds. It wasn’t “Look mate, I accepted your black background, now it is your turn to accept my conditions!” kind of negotiations. Rather, I just managed to convince him that these animations and sounds are annoying at best and they are so last century. I know that many novice designers and clients with no knowledge are fascinated by everything that jumps and screams and this was the case with this guy – he simply didn’t have much experience as a user and he was fascinated by sounds and animations.

“If there is a will, there is way.” This might not be true about everything in life but for most cases of creative differences it is. If you manage to communicate your views, than it becomes easier to see each other’s point of view. Of course, don’t bet on a happy end in all cases but more often than not you can solve creative differences via communication and negotiation.

End the Project, If the Creative Differences Are So Fundamental

It is best if you manage to solve the creative differences with your client and work happily ever after, but unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. Sometimes creative differences are so fundamental that no negotiations can bridge the cap.

In this case the only move is to end the project. This is really a last resort but sometimes you just have no other options. If you continue to work together, this will be a torture for both of you. Under these circumstances, the wisest is to end the project, especially if it is still in the beginning and go your separate ways.

9 mistakes designers make when creating a logo

Every now and then I’m approached by design students and clients asking me to critique their logos.

While I’m not particularly fond of critiquing anyone’s work, especially when it’s hard to find something positive to say, I’m happy to help students raise their game and charge a consultancy fee to any client looking for a professional opinion.

Specializing in the creation of identities allows me to easily identify —no pun intended — a pattern of common mistakes designers make when creating logos. Some are downright bad, and should be avoided at all costs, while others can be overlooked depending on the peculiarities of the project.

This list contains some of the most common mistakes I have seen in my design career.

Whether you are a designer looking to improve your skills or a small business owner looking to understand the process behind logo design, this article will help you learn from the mistakes of others; and either save you valuable design time or prevent you from making a poor investment.

1. Designing without a briefing

This sounds so wrong in so many levels, that I feel a bit silly even including this advice in this list, but the truth is that we all have done it. I know that I have, on many of my own personal projects, especially when working on something that I’m particularly passionate about.

However, while designing without a briefing is possible, more often than I would like to admit, I have found myself scrapping whatever design I made only to get back to the start and write a proper briefing for it. Ultimately, when creating for oneself, writing a briefing for personal projects saves time, but can in many cases also help to mature the initial idea.

That’s the general advice for personal projects, but client work is a whole different story.

The briefing exists to help designers know what they need to design, and how they need to design it. However, it also has a key role in defining the designer-client relationship. Without it, designers would be overwhelmed by the amount of design freedom, and clients would not know what to expect from the project, or how far can they go in making requests to the designer.

Here’s were I get serious about briefings, and I genuinely mean it. Working without a briefing on client work is a recipe for disaster. If you want to design high quality logos and compete on a professional level, you must have a briefing for each project.

 

2. Designing for yourself

Design can easily become a highly personal and passionate experience, so knowing for whom a logo is being created can be a hard lesson to learn, and that’s not a challenge just for designers, more often than not, clients are also guilty of analysing a design based on their personal tastes rather than their audience’s needs.

You must understand who your logo target audience is, and then learn as much as you can about them. Whenever possible, get in touch with them and talk about the project your are working on. Listen to what they have to say, and use what you learn from this interaction during the design process.

Here’s a warning especially for small business owners: do not rely entirely on their opinions to create your design. You should only refer to your target audience to extract their perspective, and always hire a professional designer to translate that into something that works. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a Franken-logo, the nightmare of the logo design world.

The truth is that learning how to wear the shoes of the target audience is one of the most valuable skills a designer can learn, and an extremely handy skill for any small business owner as they can apply that to all areas of their business, not only design. Remember, design for your target audience, not for yourself.

 

3. Not understanding the client’s USP

Each business has its own USP (unique selling point) and that is one of the most crucial things to keep in mind when designing a logo. It can be anything, from a secret formula (Coca-Cola), to being one-of-its-kind (Google), to being highly innovative (Apple).

I’m not suggesting that companies should literally insert their USPs in the designing of their logos, that would be terrible. Logos are not supposed to be literal, but understanding the practical side of a business will more often than not lead into the generation of ideas.

This is an essential part of my own logo design process, and actually, the exact first thing I look to understand. It works every time, just like a charm.

Knowing what is your client’s business USP will help you to find what’s the unique approach you should take when designing their logo. Every business has its own angle, and taking this into account can help you build a successful brand.

 

4. Not considering the brand positioning

Branding is a concept that stretches far beyond identity design, but in order to design a logo that truly reflects the core identity of the brand for which its being designed, one must understand the positioning of this brand.

Brand positioning is all about the relationship of one brand to other brands, usually primary competitors. The easiest way to make that analysis is by using a marketing diagrammatic technique called perceptual mapping, where you can visually display the perceptions of a brand in relation to others, thus finding the brand positioning.

If marketing is not your forte, that may sound pretty confusing, but is actually simpler than it looks, check out the example below which helps to put some sense into it.

Here I’m analysing the positioning of a few chocolate brands in relation to quality and price, two aspects highly relevant to customers.

It’s essential to understand that one can analyse status, usability, durability or any other dimension that is pertinent to the perception of customers; a well defined brand positioning will be thought from many different perspectives.

With all of that in mind, it becomes easy to see, that the logo you are designing must look like it belongs to the place where the brand is positioned. Thinking about that will raise the chances of your logo receiving a positive perception from customers.

 

5. Not doing enough research

Understanding your client USP and its brand positioning are essential to anyone looking to design a successful logo, but that’s not all the research you can do about your client’s business.

Allocate some considerable time to do research work, so you can understand what is the context of the business; who are the primary and secondary competitors; how and where the logo will be used; and who is the primary target of the company.

The internet is in your favor, there’s a lot you can learn about your client’s business and market without even having to ask any questions. Remember that Google is your friend, and you can ask him anything you want!

The truth is that clients, more often than not, don’t understand how to use design to their advantage, so they just don’t give you the information you need from start. Don’t be afraid of asking a lot of questions, even if they sound pretty basic.

Always bear in mind that designing a logo without understanding your client’s business, is like shooting an arrow while blindfolded expecting to hit bullseye. While you may be able to accomplish that, it will be all about luck, and that is what you want to avoid. The more information you are able to collect, the better your design will be.

 

6. Not considering the limitations of reproduction

This is a classic mistake. Here is where the majority of young designers fail, as they don’t foresee future applications the brand will require. There are plenty of things you should consider, but the good news is that this mistake is one of the easiest to overcome.

All you need to do is to ask questions. Will your client need the logo printed on the side of a pen, to use as a promotional item? Or, will it be printed on the company’s vehicles or large scale outdoors? Find out how the logo will be used even before you start thinking about design.

Even if your logo looks fabulous on a website; on the smallest size; and printed in the largest size; there’s always something you may forget. Here’s an example, think about how frustrating can it be if your client loves your logo, and even though is perfectly scalable, the design you chose is impossible to embroider on a t-shirt.

 

7. Showing too many options

If there’s one piece of advice I truly wish I had understood earlier in my career it is this one. It would have saved me a vast deal of time, but on the other hand, whenever I talk about this subject with other designers it seems to be a mistake we all need to experience.

Young designers need a great deal of practice to sharpen their skills, develop their own aesthetic language, and learn enough about the trade to feel confident enough to present fewer options. That’s pretty hard to accomplish without a great deal of experience.

On the other hand, some designers choose to show many options as a way to raise the perceived of value of their own service. I understand why they are doing that, but I don’t think there’s real value in showing multiple options.

The end of the story is that clients will only use one of the solutions you show anyway, so wouldn’t be more productive to come up with one idea that you genuinely think is the best, instead of dividing your time and effort in creating multiple solutions? Think about it.

But clients ask me to see multiple options! What should I do about that?

Well, that’s true, some clients will ask you for that, but then it comes to you to take the initiative and educate your client on how identity design works, and why getting fewer options is actually better than getting many options to choose from.

Whenever I’m working on an identity project, I always have many ideas of what to design, but hardly present more than the idea which I believe to be the best solution for the project I’m working on. Because I spend a considerable amount of time thinking about the brand I’m going to design, I feel quite comfortable explaining, in the finest of the details. It’s easy to justify why the option I’m presenting is the best solution for my client’s business. That’s more value than showing multiple options.

Perhaps this particular mistake is more about a process of gaining experience that every designer needs to go trough to raise their game. On the other hand, I’m sure about one thing: avoiding the other mistakes I mention on this list will raise your confidence about your own work and presenting fewer options becomes more natural.

 

8. Relying on digital trickery to create a logo

What happens when you remove the gradients, reflections, drop-shadow effects and change the color to white over a dark background? Is your logo still there? If you are still able to see your logo perfectly, the chances are you have designed a good logo, but if not, then it’s time to start thinking about it all over again.

Using digital trickery to make a weak design look strong is one of the easiest things to do,  all you need is Photoshop, and knowing which effects to apply, but these types of logos are just not good long-term identities, they don’t help to build brand value.

The rule of the thumb here is to design the logo in its simplest form. Once the essence of the logo is working, then you may consider adding some trickery to better fit the logo to specific applications, but never as an essential part of the design.

 

9. Not being able to explain your design

It’s terrible when a client questions a feature of your design and all you have to say is “I designed it this way because I think it looks good”. Bear in mind that if you use the “I like” argument, you are also allowing your client to do the same, and that can easily turn the discussion into a battle of “taste”. Guess who’s going to lose…

Every single pixel of a logo must be thought-of, it must have a concept behind its looks, and the overall result must show a solid understanding of the proposed briefing. If you have followed these steps carefully, be not afraid, as I’m sure you will be able to answer any question that may arise once you show off your logo to the world.

If your design is based on actual knowledge and experience your client does not share, you can position yourself as an expert in your field; and your clients are going to respect your choice because they lack the argument to contest something they don’t understand.

That is what separates the wheat from the chaff in the design industry.

 

Conclusion

To paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt, you can’t possibly live long enough to make all mistakes by yourself, so learning from the mistakes of others is pretty good advice.

I must admit however, that I’m a strong advocate for empiric experience. There’s nothing better than learning from your own mistakes, so don’t be too hard on yourself when you do something wrong, there’s no shame in it. Mistakes are there to help us grow, not to drag us down.

5 Freelancing Advice That Don’t Work (and What Does)

1. Don’t make your bedroom your office

This is the first advice I heard when I started freelancing. No matter what you do, don’t have your office in your bedroom.
Forget an office, I didn’t even have a desk when I started freelancing. I’d work in bed or on the dining table. When I did get a table a month later, it was placed in my bedroom.

The reasoning behind the advice is sound. Working in bed is bad for your posture, and it doesn’t make for a healthy work environment. After a couple of hours of working from your bed, you just feel like lazing about – absolutely not productive.

But when they are starting out, many freelancers don’t have the funds or the room to have a separate home office. So the advice is actually redundant. It’s impossible to follow advice you can’t afford.

How to make it work for you

If you’re working in your bedroom, make sure you sit up straight and have a breakfast table to put your laptop. Get up every half hour to stretch to avoid feeling drowsy or lazy.

If you have a desk in your room, try to set it near a window. If you don’t have a window, make sure you set the table so that your back faces the bed when you’re working. Add an easy to maintain, real plant on your desk and keep it clean. The aesthetics are important when one is strapped for space.

If at all possible, avoid working in the bedroom. Instead, choose the dining room or the kitchen table. It’s closer to the coffee!

2. Don’t work for free

New freelancers don’t always have a portfolio. To have one, they need clients who’ll give them work and to get work, they need to find clients. It’s a vicious chicken-and-egg thing. The only way out of it seems to be to work for free in the beginning – at least for the first couple of clients!

But popular freelancing advice says that you should never work for free as it undervalues your talent and sets a precedent for future compensation. What’s a freelancer to do? How are you going to build your portfolio?

How to make it work for you

Instead of working for free, create your own samples. Better yet, volunteer your services to a non-profit organization. Not only will it look good on your resume, the organization would be eternally grateful to you and when you ask for testimonials, they’ll be offering glowing examples.

3. Always take a deposit

How many of you took deposits from clients when you started out? Me neither. In fact, this is something I still don’t do unless the project is a substantial one.

Yes, I got stiffed once and yes, I should ideally take a deposit before starting work. But clients don’t always agree to that and it also really depends on how you do business. Granted, chances of you not being paid are high if you don’t take a deposit but it’s not always feasible to pass over a client just because they don’t pay an initial deposit.

For me, this advice only works with big projects. I simply explain to the client why it’s a big risk for me to start work when a big amount is involved. They usually understand and send over a 20% deposit (at least) or whichever amount we’ve agreed upon.

How to make it work for you

Never hand over a finished project. Always hold something back. If it’s a design project, put your watermark on it. If it’s a website theme/template send them screenshots and if it’s a writing project, ask them for the payment after the draft has been approved.

Whatever kind of work you do, find a way to either put your mark on it or hold something back until you receive the full payment.

4. Have a freelancing contract

Every freelancer, freelance blog and business book out there says the same thing: Working without a contract is inviting disaster to dinner. Yet there are countless freelancers who work without a contract. I know because I was one too. Legal mumbo jumbo scares the best of us.

As new freelancers, we’re eager to get started. “What’s the point of a contract until I have clients?” you think. And then suddenly, you have a client and you’re so excited you forget all about the contract.

Or maybe you’re scared to bring up the topic of a contract. You’re uncomfortable bringing it up when everything seems to be going smoothly. Just because this advice is popular doesn’t meant it’s not right. It just doesn’t work with a big percentage of freelancers.

How to make it work for you

Always communicate via email. Even when you’ve talked to the client over the phone, send them an email recapping your chat and ask them if you’ve missed anything. An email exchange might not be a contract but it’s the next best thing.

Should you come up with any problems, you can always refer to the emails and tell the client that this was what was decided and agreed upon about the rates, scope, payment terms. Better yet, once all the details have been finalized, send your client all the details in an email recapping the entire deal.

5. Charge what you’re worth

Freelancers either charge what they’re worth or they don’t. Most often, they don’t.

The internet is riddled with advice on charging what you’re worth. We’re told that the kind of clients we attract is directly related to our rates – and it’s true.

Unfortunately it’s very rare for a new freelancers to even know what the going rate is in his niche, let alone, his worth. This knowledge comes with time and confidence in your work.

How to make it work for you

Charging what you’re worth might be stretching it a bit. Stick with charging the going rates. Use Twitter and LinkedIn to find other freelancers in your niche. Check out their websites to see if they’ve listed their rates.

While not all freelancer list their rates, a few do which is enough to give you a general idea. If you’re still unsure, email the ones who don’t have them listed and ask them. Some won’t reply because they guard their rates but there are plenty of freelancers who will.

Online forums are also a great source of information. If there’s a freelancing forum you frequent, ask about the going rates there. You’re guaranteed to get plenty of help!

Reflection

The beautiful thing about being a freelancer is that we’re adaptable folks. If something doesn’t work we either work around it, or find a way to make the best of the situation, without being taken advantage of. Have you ever been given advice about freelancing that didn’t work for you?

How Responsive Web Design Could Become an Alternative for Mobile Websites?

The assumption that your web design is responsive can only be made true when the users using different operating systems and podiums to access the website, are able to do it successfully. The web design which is responsive is becoming more famous as it removes the need of constantly updating, or adding additional features to the mobile website. Some website owners and designers even think that using responsive web design removes the need of a mobile website.

How Responsive Web Design Could Become an Alternative for Mobile Websites?

Experts state that the responsive web design actually consists of flexible layouts, media questions and fluid grids that make the website more accessible and easy to use. If one does not use this responsive web design, there are chances that the website owner will have to provide the visitors with different URL’s compatible with different devices.

 

The best thing about the responsive web design is that websites needs to be designed only once to be accessed with the different devices and operating systems. It is even simpler than any mobile website or template, since the whole website is designed in a way which makes it suitable to adjust to any screen resolution.

Let’s Have Few Words about the Working of the Responsive Web Design

The word “responsive”, when used for the web design, means that the whole website is constructed in a way where it fits or adjusts according to the resolution of the screen, used by the user for accessing the website. For example, let’s say that you are reading something on your tablet, and you have to switch to another device to read the same thing; in this case the responsive web design will actually re-size that page or website according to your other device. If you are frequent user of these devices, then this is a great feature for you. The responsive web design actually gives you a new experience of looking at a thing, irrespective of which device or platform you are using to access the website. This design also works well with large websites that don’t support Java Script.

Mobile Websites have Become Need of Hour

It is a given fact that most people, today, use a mobile to access websites. Tablets are also mostly preferred by students for the task of note taking etc. It is much more preferred than the non portable PC. So designing websites for the mobile has almost become a necessity.

While making a website, when you start coding for a specific resolution, the usual end result is a mess of too many style sheets. The media queries, actually, help build a resolution match for an I-phone in both portrait and landscape view through CSS3. As you can predict, you can restore any HTML template, on the mobile website of your now website to your original one, at any time.

Making a website for a mobile, with the help of a responsive web design, automatically takes care of the different aspects of mobile. This means that you do not have to configure the CSS properties separately for both mobile and desktop version of the website.

The only thing you need to be on a look out for is how to display the website on the smallest of the screens with perfect resolution. A program known as Google Analytics can provide you with a lot of help in this matter.

It is a fact that your website might not, 100%, successfully work on each and every device. But obviously, your goal should always be to have your website work on the maximum devices with an average screen resolution. I-phone models using 320 by 480 resolutions have also attained it. A screen of 240 pixels or even smaller is more preferable.

Eradicating the Default Zoom of Mobile Website

While browsing a website on your mobile, you might have noticed that certain websites automatically zooms itself out to go beyond the size of your mobile screen. It is somehow best for the user, since not every website is compatible with the mobile browsing. Thus, getting a full view of the website this way is a better option. But sometimes, the default auto zoom can really trouble your lay out components. It can make the images or certain layout elements of your website either appear too big or too tiny on your screen. The perfect solution to this is using Meta tagging. It can be added into the document header in certain Android and I-phone devices which actually rearranges it.

This is sometimes also known as viewport Meta tagging, in which a few custom variables are added in the content. Apple has certain meta tag variables present in their documentations which are compatible or made just for the websites opened through I-phone operating systems. The starting scale value is very important as it redirects your website to 100% zoom when you open in on your device.

Designs Used For Touch Devices

Sometimes while producing the layouts or web designs, developers forget that the time of the keyboard mobile phones have long gone. They now need to shift their focus towards smart phones that have a touch system. Instead of having a drop-down menu, it is best to have the menu displayed on the right hand side of the mobile as a single menu since it is easier and comfortable to tap the menus on your right hand side using your right thumb.

instantShift - Designs Used For Touch Devices

Instead of using the jQuery codes, it is much easier to link the menu applications through indent margins. It is really important to increase the size of navigation links. People using mobile phones, do not have big screens or desktops to view the things; so, keep the text on the mobile websites large, readable. This may also be changed when the user might change the mode of viewing from landscape to portrait or vice versa.

Reason for Dynamic Image Scrambling

Images are a very important to any website, as they attract the visitors. Even though not always to stream videos, mobile phone users surely use their mobiles to look for images. When it comes to the layout of a mobile, this surely offends many.

According to the standardized CSS rule, all images should be scaled to maximum width property. The images are always perfect at 100%. If a user re-adjusts the size of his browser smaller than your image, it will automatically re-size its width to best fit the size of the browser. Sadly, the internet explorer does not understand and read this property, so one will have to manually customize the IE stylesheet to get this feature in action.

You can get good and stretched images with the help of Java Script and jQuery plugins. Many of the expert developers have put too much of their time in producing a responsive image content.

Turning On/Off the Extra Toggle Content

Including web forms, active menus, and image sliders, there are certain heavy sizes of text available. The best way to adjust them with the decreasing size of layout is to hide them altogether into a minimized content division. This could be done through either CSS or JavaScript, but the need for JS code is, ultimately, inevitable as it is also needed to create a toggle button.

This is the best solution for keeping your webpage fully lively and rich with media content. Instead of removing the content with drop-down navigation or re-adjusting it, you just have to minimize them into a content div. If someone needs to use those items, they may just tap the toggle on/off button to view or hide them.

The formatting is really simple, interesting and spontaneous to do for touch screen devices. Inside the div, you can put each menu side by side in columns. This would make them even easier to separate. Even if size of the window decreases, they will eventually get in line above and below each other, eventually leading to the increase in height of the window. Then you can slowly lead to the closure of the whole menu with just a single tap. For dynamic image, re-sizing this toggle div is the best option.

Choosing the Custom CSS Designs

It is very important to choose your design or layout for the website and get your content adjusted to it. For example, in case of side bars and content area, you should set their sizes in percentage and let them get adjusted to the layout. But if you set a minimum width, it will eventually lead to the breakage of your side bar content.

So it’s much better to consider making external stylesheets rather than dealing with this problem which might affect your whole design or layout. But there is always a possibility that you might run your content in such a small resolution, that your screen would not be able to extract the content out of it. So, this is the best time to add certain customized CSS properties which will re-format or adjust the content altogether, according to the screen of the device.

What Benefits Responsive Web Design Can Provide?

There are certain different benefits of the using responsive web designs which include:

  • They eliminate the need to add different website visitors with different URL’s, using different devices to access the website.
  • With different URLs, it becomes difficult to maintain multiple different sites. It can even add to the costs as well.
  • It eliminates the need to design different websites for different devices.
  • If you need to bring about any changes or modification on any of you web pages, you can do it with responsive web designs. People, not using it, may find themselves having to change multiple websites or pages just to modify a single page or website.
    There are also certain consequences or bad points of using a responsive web design which include:
  • Sometimes the web design actually leads you to download certain extra markups which are not necessary. These extra markups only result in extra cost and a waste of space.
  • Rather than just adjusting and reformatting the existing website with the help of responsive web design, making and providing a whole website for a mobile device is much more advisable and suitable.
  • The websites that are made for mobiles have proved to be more efficient and responsive than the ones made or re-formatted with the help of responsive web designs.

 

So these benefits and features can make responsive web design a suitable alternative for mobile websites but here you must consider one thing that it does not ends the need for great mobile sites at all.

How to deliver the perfect design

Working with clients can be tough. There can be a lot of back and forth communication and many requirements. Every client has their different level of standards and can make bouncing from project to project a bit difficult. One client’s idea of good is another’s idea of average and they’ll want more.

Some of us make our living off doing client work and accepting new projects. While all of us are different in the amount of work we can do and handle, it’s no secret that we don’t want to spend lots of unnecessary time stuck doing revisions and trying different designs. It’s always nice to have a client that can at least see the potential in a design instead of throwing it out to the wolves.

Having a design looked at and immediately disproved can be crushing. Providing the best design the first time around is often rare. However, providing a design the client likes and can see the potential in is obtainable. There’s no such thing as an immaculate, “perfect” design, but there is an idea that a design has “perfect” potential, no matter the client or the project. Below are a few things you can do to help make better designs for your clients.

Know the brand

This is the single most important and also most over-looked thing when it comes to creating designs, especially if you don’t use design briefs. When I first started designing as a freelancer, I asked clients what type of design they needed and mainly what colors they liked. I usually knew the business industry, but past that, I didn’t really concern myself. I felt like it didn’t matter with what I was doing. After sending my concept to the business, they typically had tons of revisions or wanted me to give it another try.

I thought that was normal until I started to actually concern myself with the business I was working for. Asking questions about the business and what they actually do gives a better and deeper understanding to their needs. Once you grasp the actual need, then you have to find out the types of things they like. Once you know that, it’s easier to move on and create something specifically for that brand.

There’s no limit to the amount you can know about a brand you work for. Some think it’s frivolous, but I even know the start dates of some of my clients. It lets me understand their brand and who they want to attract. All these things are extremely important in making a design for them. Design should solve a problem, so you must be very well familiar with every aspect of the problem so that you can pose the right solution. In math, you can’t correctly solve an equation if you don’t understand the numbers. Design is the same thing. Know as much as possible.

 

Research the industry

The second most important and over-looked thing for some freelancers is researching the client’s industry. Once we know the needs of the client, we are ready and prepared to design what we think should be designed. It’s great to be anxious and ready but it is extremely important to know what is going on in the client’s industry.

Firstly, we know how trendy design can be. There are going to be certain trends in one industry that are and are not acceptable in another. In a big corporate lawyer firm, I’m not going to find a ton of watercolor logos. It’s not about finding ways to blend in, but it is about making sure you don’t negatively poke out like a sore thumb. There has to be a balance. You don’t want to make your client the laughing stock of their peers and you don’t want them to confuse potential customers and clients.

Secondly, you research to find out what is and is not popular with the consumers. You are honestly designing for them more than the client that is paying you. You’ve got to make sure you understand the industry’s consumers so you create something that gets them excited and ready to move. Perhaps you’ve noticed things they respond to well and things they don’t. You’ve got to try to use that to the strength of the company. Even in creating brochures and flyers, you must know what makes them excited and present it in a manner to do so.

The best part about researching the industry is the ability to notice areas that need improvement. If there is an opportunity in an area that your client is interested in, they’d be foolish not to tap into that industry. If consumers are begging for new features or designs, you can use that to your benefit and eventually to your client’s.

 

Be creative

What do we all do when we’re ready to create something? We probably get online and go through hundreds of pages of design inspiration. When we’re tapped out on the blog, we then go to our favorite showcases and rinse and repeat. You can find inspiration anywhere online and it’s almost endless.

I love inspiration and tell designers as well as clients to look at some things to see what they like. However, after finding something you love, many end up copying rather than being creative. Someone can make a design and say it’s merely inspired by another design, yet it looks similar. Someone else can do the same, and the designs will look completely different. I’d tell you the latter was truly inspired while the former mimicked a design.

The difference is inspiration is really a feeling that taps into a certain corner of your creativity. It wakes that area up and pushes it to do new things. The interpretation of that inspiration should solely be yours. Perhaps you’ve incorporated an element or two from the original design—that’s cool, too, but true creativity isn’t work that’s been borrowed.

The benefits of being creative and trying new things is the affect it has on the design and who sees the design. Good creativity and good design can often lend itself to the beginnings of innovation. Re-inventing and re-designing the norm in order to provide the same purpose has had a great effect on our modern lives. Changing the norm to provide a better purpose creates great effects as well, many of which can start with a good, innovative design. Why? Creativity and innovation are contagious and can create new outlooks for your client as well as others who see the design.

 

Pay attention to detail

I did something so embarassing once: I sent a client a design concept and completely misspelled the name of the company. While they didn’t make a big deal out of it, I was beyond upset at myself for letting that one slip. Something like that could have cost me the job with any other client. That’s why paying attention to detail is extremely important.

Why did I make such a stupid mistake? I was actually rushing through the process as I was trying to meet a personal deadline. I’ve found myself and other designers often rushing and cutting corners with designs in order to get things done faster. The design outcomes are fair, but the risk of messing up the details are not.

Clients and consumers look at everything, so it’s best to be as detailed as possible. Take your time when creating and try to think everything through. Don’t always use your designer brain, but step back and look at the design and say, “Would I purchase this if I were a consumer? Would I remember this? Does this make sense?” These questions will keep you from making stupid mistakes like the one I made. It also helps you notice things you normally wouldn’t when designing.

 

Explain your design

While this idea has less to do with the creation of a design, it’s still helpful. As designers, we love and understand our designs and why we did it. For us, everything makes sense and goes together cohesively. Unfortunately, we don’t always communicate these things when we send off design for approval.

Sending an explanation of a design with a design (rather than in defense of a design) is helpful because the client has a chance to understand your design right there. For example, with my logo design concepts, I often write a small paragraph in the design that explains what my design is doing. Some believe the design should speak for itself, but in our first stages, it doesn’t always happen. Why not give them the immediate opportunity to understand it the way you get it?

Doing this gives the client less time to develop negative feelings towards the design, because they typically understand it better. Even if it is disliked (which it shouldn’t be if you followed the previous steps), there’s a chance that they’ll stick with and see and understand the potential.

Don’t be afraid of revisions, because again, they come with the territory. A quick hint here: always try what the client asks for. If you hate the idea, when you try it out, they’ll probably hate it, too or you may end up liking it. Either way, there should be open lines of communication between both parties so that explanations along with revisions can be clearly understood and accepted.

 

Conclusion

Again, there is no such thing as making a design that needs no revisions at all. Creating a design often gives whomever sees it some new ideas and they’re going to want to add to or take away from what you have. The idea here is to create something the client will actually like.

Using these ideas is helpful not only to the design, but also to your rapport. Asking clients lots of questions actually builds trust, plus who doesn’t like talking about themselves? They understand and respect that you really desire to create something for them and not just a general design for whomever.

Many amateur freelancers don’t hit all the above points and end up wasting a lot of time. Hitting all these points not only creates a better design for the client, but also starts to make you a better designer. We should all strive to be as great as we can in the positions we’re in.

Mental Preparation: What To Do When You Lose Motivation

Sometimes, you just don’t want to do your work. It can be such a hassle to get up, start up the computer, fire up the software, and do what needs to be done. You feel tired and bored, having lost sight of why you chose a career in design in the first place, and you find yourself wondering whether you should just give it all up and become a dental hygienist. It can be really demoralizing to lose your motivation part of the way through a project, but what do you do if you absolutely have to get something done regardless of how you feel about it? Today, I’m going to tell you about a technique you can use when you’re feeling burnt out and you simply can’t bear to think about taking one more step to complete that big, hairy project staring you in the face.

Riding the Rollercoaster

Emotions are not permanent. Sometimes you’re exuberantly happy, and other times you’re depressed enough to cry. This is normal – it means you’re human and not a robot. Most people realize that their current emotional state won’t last forever. However, most of us seem to conveniently forget that fact when there’s a pile of work that needs to be done, and it isn’t going to do itself. It doesn’t matter if the work is for a client or boss, or just for ourselves. We can usually find a way to get our work done when there’s a paycheck involved, but sometimes even that isn’t motivation enough to press on. Procrastination is a problem that affects us all, but for some people it can be more devastating than usual. Believe it or not, people have lost their jobs, homes, and families because they couldn’t bring themselves out of the trap of procrastination. Procrastination usually occurs when the emotional side of our brains – the side that loves to laze in front of the television and eat ice cream – overtakes the rational side of our brains. The rational side no longer has control, and the emotional side is now telling us that there’s nothing more important than catching up on our favorite show or finishing that new video game we just bought.

 

If this sounds painfully familiar, I have some news for you. First of all, you should realize that procrastination, despite being an annoyance and a major waste of time, is perfectly normal. Really. You’re not some lazy freak of nature if you procrastinate now and then. There’s no real cure for procrastination, and to be honest, as a creative person, you probably wouldn’t want the cure even if there was one. Why? Because procrastination is a major source of distraction, and distraction is what allows you to be creative in the first place. Think about it. If your life was merely a series of tasks from your to-do list, which you did flawlessly all the time, where would you find the time to be creative? And what are you usually doing when you’re at your most creative? Are you getting things done productively, like a good little automaton? Or are you goofing off – staring into space, doodling aimlessly, thinking about crazy, abstract things that have nothing to do with the task at hand? If you’re anything like me, the answer is almost always the latter.

The problem comes when your procrastination lasts longer than the period it’s required to be useful. If you find yourself avoiding your work for no other reason than you’re just not motivated to do it, there are a few things you can do to get yourself back on track and complete the work that needs to be completed. First of all, it’s important to understand the nature of human emotion. Don’t worry – this isn’t some esoteric psychology lesson. It’s actually quite simple: there’s no way you can maintain the same level of enthusiasm for the entire duration of a long-term project. It’s just not possible. Your brain will eventually run out of energy, and you’ll find yourself exhausted and demotivated. This is normal. And like procrastination, there’s nothing you can do about it. What you can do, however, is something that many people refuse to do: accept that it’s normal and that you can’t do anything about it.

Once you accept that something is inevitable, you’ll be much better prepared to deal with it when it happens. If you’ve ever lost a loved one to a long illness, you’ll probably recall how, after a certain period, they will begin to make preparations for their own passing. They’ll update their will, and set everything in order for the day when they’ll no longer be around. There’s nothing they can do to stop what’s coming, but they can accept it and make things go that much smoother. And if a terminally ill person can accept their own mortality, you can certainly accept that you’ll have to continue working regardless of how you feel about it at any given time.

In order to continue working on a project once you’re past that stage of initial enthusiasm, you have to prepare yourself ahead of time to deal with your fluctuating emotions. It’s important to realize that you won’t always be at the same level of excitement, and that that’s perfectly okay. That way, when you lose steam halfway through, you’ll have a system in place to deal with it and you won’t be completely lost and frustrated. A lot of people say things like “it’s not the destination that matters, but the journey.” After you get through wanting to punch those people in the face, take a moment and really think about what they’re saying. If you’re too focused on your goal, you won’t even notice when your enthusiasm runs out and you’re no longer able to rely on it for motivation.

Set Realistic Expectations

Many times, we lose motivation to work on a project because we just aren’t seeing the results we thought we would in the allotted time period. If you took on a few freelancing jobs in hopes of saving up enough money to take that trip around the world you’ve been wanting to take, or even to just pay some of your bills that have been piling up, and you haven’t gotten as many clients as you hoped you would, you can easily become discouraged. If no amount of marketing or niching down your target client base has been showing results, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate the amount of time you’ve given yourself to reach your goals.

Are you expecting to double your income through freelancing within six months? If so, you might want to sit down, because I have some bad news for you. Building a successful freelance career takes time – time that you might not have given yourself in the beginning. Use your “down time” of minimal motivation to reassess your goals and create a more realistic scenario. When you’re feeling defeated, it can be much easier to accept that your goals will take you longer than you thought. Why? Because you give your brain hope that they can eventually be reached, rather than thinking that everything is doomed and you’ll never be successful.

Doomed If You Do, Doomed If You Don’t

If you’ve been successful at completing projects before, you might recall that, though you can laugh and joke about it all now, you probably experienced feelings of doubt and anxiety about the success of your project. Doubt is one of the biggest killers of motivation, because it robs you of the confidence needed to complete any task. Even if you’ve planned your goals carefully and rationally, and you haven’t miscalculated anything in terms of time or effort required, if you feel you’re still not getting the results you were hoping for, you can start to lose your enthusiasm. You may feel as though you’ll never reach your goals…until you do reach them. Then, you become totally confident again and nothing can stop you. Right?

Well, sometimes. I don’t know about you, but even when I’ve been successful with a project, I’ll still get a nagging feeling that I just haven’t done enough to secure my success. If you experience anxiety about succeeding, you can feel as if you’re a fraud, hiding behind a curtain of false confidence like the Wizard of Oz.

The good thing about these feelings is that they’re usually temporary. Most people have them, and they’ll eventually go away after awhile. If you began your project for the right reasons, those reasons will always guide you through the wilderness, and you’ll eventually meet back up with your confidence.

Conclusion

Creative people are natural born risk-takers. Everything we do – from finding freelance clients to generating valuable work those clients will love – involves a risk of some sort. Even if the only risk is you feeling demotivated or unenthusiastic from time to time, it can still prove too much for you to handle. But imagine how our lives would be if nothing involved any kind of risk. If everything you touched turned to gold and you could never fail, ever.