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What makes a good logo designer?

As strange as this may sound for some, not every designer is a good logo designer.

I’ve met many highly talented designers who are terrible at designing logos. Actually, some of the best designers I know are so aware of that, that they even prefer to not take on this type of project.

The process of creating a logo, at least on a professional level, can easily become a long series of complex tasks that don’t necessarily have anything to do with designing, and to be successful in doing that the designer needs to have a quite peculiar mix of skills.

If you are a designer looking to specialize in the identity industry, this article will help you identify your strong and weak points. If you are an entrepreneur looking to educate yourself before hiring a logo designer, this article will help you understand part of the complexity behind the process of creating a custom logo for your business.

 

What makes a good logo?

Before getting onto the main subject of this article, we must define what makes a good logo. After all, it’s only by reaching an understanding on that concept that we will be able to go ahead and analyze which skill-set, experience and personality would be required from a designer to be good with the creation of logos.

So what makes a logo, a good logo?

In one sentence a good logo must be fit for purpose, adaptable to a variety of multiple sizes and materials, stand the passage of time without looking old, and be memorable enough that once you look at it, it can be easily remembered.

Overall, when it comes to logo design there’s no right and wrong, but instead just good and bad practices. The diagram below showcases what is widely considered to be the best practices in the identity design industry.

The quick dirty Venn diagram of the brand identity design.

While looking at the above diagram, what skills do you think would help to create a good logo?

One way of answering this question is by analyzing each characteristic separately, and then associating a different skill set to each one. For example, what skills would a designer require to design an iconic logo? Surely understanding the concept and value of iconic design for starters, but there’s plenty more.

Spend a good amount of time thinking about that and you’ll eventually notice that the great majority of skills needed to design a good logo have little or nothing to do with the actual activity of producing design. Surprised? Keep on reading, and you’ll get the idea.

 

Be good at research

One of the most relevant skills in the process of becoming a good logo designer is the ability to find relevant and useful information. Think about it: without knowing details of the client’s industry, the market and understanding how competition uses their identity to market themselves, how one would know they are designing a relevant logo?

But that’s what the briefing is for, right?

Yes, you’re spot on, but the truth is that the great majority of small clients, and starting entrepreneurs, don’t know how to prepare a briefing. Heck, some of them don’t even have this data available when they approach a designer for a logo.

Sometimes even larger organizations don’t understand the peculiarities of the logo design process, and fail by not providing enough information in their briefings. Knowing where to get the date, and what questions to ask is an essential skill.

Ultimately this skill will help to direct the design to a relevant solution.

 

Be able to think conceptually

Once the designer has all the information relevant to the project — which should include the client’s briefing and data from the designer’s research at least — the following step would be to analyze the data to define the boundaries of the project.

In order to do that, the designer should look at the data by using analytical tools such as brainstorming, mind-maps, color-wheels, mood boards or any other analytical tool that help to better understand the identity problem and identify what may or may not be a good concept to be explored.

I guess this is easier said than done!

Sure there’s a lot of practical work here, but once the designer has a clear vision of the big picture, being able to find a solution which is aesthetically pleasing but also has a deep conceptual connection to the initial identity problem is, more than anything else, what makes a good logo designer.

Think of it in this way: a logo without a concept is a logo without a soul.

Being able to think conceptually, and find hidden meaning in between what initially would seem to be unrelated data, has a profound impact in the process of creating a good logo, consequently it is this skill that will help to direct the design to a unique solution.

 

Be able to plan ahead

With a unique and relevant solution in hand, now all is left for the designer to do is to guarantee the chosen solution is versatile. In order to do that the designer needs to be able to plan ahead. Simple, uh? For what its worth, I believe this to be the easiest skill to master.

Quite basically all the designer has to do is to design the logo with context in mind. Will it fit well in a website? A twitter avatar? Printed in a one color brochure? Or full color on a business card? Stretched on a big poster? Or on the side of a vehicle? Reduced to the size of a promotional pen? Or embroidered on a t-shirt?

If the final logo can adapt to all of the above situations—and more—without losing any quality, then job done!

If not, then this solution is probably not the best—usually, is not iconic enough—and a quick look at the briefing topped by exploring another round of concepts tends to solve the problem. Nothing that a few extra hours of design won’t help to solve.

Nonetheless, here, right here, related to this skill, lies a problem.

When it comes to logo design, small businesses owners and starting entrepreneurs tend to not plan ahead, at least in design terms, and approve logos completely out of context, and for that reason they fail to understand why some solutions are just not right for them.

The risk of ignoring the need of versatility is bad for the client as it may result in the need to spend more money to rework their logo, and that’s the least of their problems. I’ve had cases where small business owners had thousands of dollars invested in stock with a logo they learned later on it was not the right for them.

And that’s the cue to the next skill, which in contrast, I believe to be the hardest to master.

 

Be a good communicator

I’m sure that many would say that being able to communicate your message across with success is not only a skill good for a logo designer, but for any designer, or even anyone in almost any career. That’s true, but there’s a special reason why a logo designer must be a good communicator.

The logo designer is usually the one faced with the responsibility of educating clients about the realities of the design world.

Day in day out, people are starting their own companies, and on the great majority of occasions, starting entrepreneurs have little idea of the role design will play in the success of their business, and usually they place very little importance on it.

Here’s the challenge…

When approached by someone who will most likely have little to no knowledge of the importance of design to a business, the logo designer must be able to help change the clients paradigm towards design, not only for the success of client, but also for his/her own success as well.

Designers tend to overlook this step, as it can be extremely time consuming, and clients, at least initially, hardly put any value to the lengths a designer would go to help educate them about design.

If you are looking to specialize in the identity design industry, this is, as far as my opinion goes, the most important non-design related skill you should be working on; together with a lot of patience too.

The best logo designers I know are also excellent communicators.

 

Conclusion

Designing a logo, at least from my perspective, has a lot to do with solving a puzzle that allows for many solutions. Some solutions are going to be great and others not so much; but if you don’t know what skills you need to play the puzzle, it becomes really hard to solve it.

With more and more people entering the design industry, it seems that looking for a specialization is becoming common place. If you are looking to specialize in the identity industry, training yourself on each of these non-design skills will certainly put you on the right track, but you must remember that ultimately you must be a good designer first, and for that there’s nothing better than practice, practice and a bit more practice.

Stop chasing screen resolutions

We live in such an exciting time in the world of the web. Technology and standards are moving forward at a rate that’s perhaps both faster and more exciting than ever. As things change, so do our habits, and one area that I think has seen bigger changes than most would have to be the change in resolution that our devices are now running.

Resolution is a funny thing to measure; it’s not a physical size change, but a clarity change. It’s not making images, brighter, or more rich in color, but making them denser. It’s also something that people seldom understand the value of until they see it for themselves.

Of course, when we get a taste of high-resolution displays, we’re hooked. And we all want our websites (and the websites of our clients) to look awesome on the devices that are sporting these displays. Many web designers are racing towards that goal by creating images for each new resolution that comes our way. Or, as I’m calling it in this article, “chasing screen resolutions”.

 

An introduction to SVG

Many of us know what SVGs (Scalable Vector Graphics) are. We’ve seen it on the W3C HTML5 website, under “3D, Graphics & Effects”. SVG is a standard HTML5 technology, that displays images with code. Or something.

At least, that’s the general response I got when I asked people about SVG graphics. It’s not really something people are interested in, because its value isn’t fully understood.

I want to show you how to avoid “chasing screen resolutions”, and it just so happens that the SVG standard can help us do just that.

 

The state of retina graphics

When I say “retina graphics”, I refer to any devices that have a screen resolution higher than that of traditional displays, sporting a resolution way above 72ppi (pixels per inch).

Apple famously smashed the 72ppi barrier with the iPhone 4, a device that had a fantastic new high-resolution display, that looks unlike anything else we’d seen before. Except when you used it to browse the web… the web looked rubbish.

The web had 72ppi optimized images. At the time of writing this, most of the web still does, two years after the launch of the iPhone 4.

Now, we have all sorts of devices with Retina quality Graphics. It’s slowly making its way across the entire Apple product line, extending to the iPod Touch, iPad and even the latest MacBook Pro. Smartphones are popping up all over the place with high resolution displays, so much so that a “standard” resolution display almost feels old-hat at this stage.

Still resolution dependent

When the web design community overcame the blurry images problem with conditionally loaded @2x images (images that were created to be twice the size of their original counterparts, loaded only on high-res devices), the web looked good again, for the most part. Some designers even advertised their websites as “resolution independent”.

Of course, what they really should have advertised their sites as was “optimized for two screen resolutions”.

Devices will keep on getting better, resolutions will keep on getting better, and and the web will continue to be enjoyed on an increasing number of form-factors. What about the inevitable future @3x? What about @4x? What about if the standard “1x” becomes unnecessary? What makes 3x “@3x” and not “@2.5x”?

Messy indeed.

What’s more, this sort of technique is hardly widespread. I browse the web on the aforementioned MacBook Pro with Retina Display, and most of the web is sadly exactly where it always has been since the iPhone 4: blurry. Creating all of your web imagery again is an arduous sounding task, especially when the whole web design world has been designing with bitmaps for so long.

Unzoomable web

Even today, with our @2x images, we still can’t zoom in on web pages without them going ugly again. Text manages a zoom just fine, but by comparison, images just cry out for those future @4x exports (something that no one will deem appropriate to serve just on the off-chance that someone might like to zoom in 4x on your RSS icon).

 

Going truly resolution independent

The problem is with bitmapped images. We’ve always known that they don’t upscale, and now is no different. What we need is vector graphics on our websites. Vector graphics are calculated by a series of instructions, rather than baked onto a grid where each pixel represents a color. Enter, SVG.

One size fits all

Since SVG graphics are vector graphics (hence the name “Scalable Vector Graphics”), they’ll look awesome on yesterday’s, today’s and even tomorrow’s screen resolutions. Additionally, due to the formulaic nature of vector graphics, you can zoom in on any device and images will stay looking great.

Faster load times

Making a 2000px by 2000px image, to a web designer, sounds nothing short of ludicrous. It would take far too long to load, it would bring some mobile devices to their knees, and the 4000px x 4000px “@2x” version would be craziness. And as resolutions get better and better, it’s simply unsustainable. With SVG, since it’s a vector format, it doesn’t matter if the image is 20px or 2000px; the load time will be exactly the same. The only thing that makes a difference to the load times is the complexity of each image file.

You can use it today

SVG may not be supported across the board, but Modernizr can feature-detect it. By serving a SVG and non-SVG version, you can reap all the benefits of SVG, while leaving legacy browsers with a @1x PNG. It’s as simple as this:

.no-svg .logo { background: url('logo.png'); }
.svg .logo { background: url('logo.svg'); }

 

Limitations of SVG

It’s not difficult to create SVG graphics out of any vector based image. Many pro apps such as Adobe Illustrator and Inkscape can export to SVG natively. There are a few things that you’ll need to know about SVGs for the web, however.

They can’t contain bitmap images of any kind.

Sure, you can add them in SVG authoring applications such as Illustrator or InkScape, and save your work as SVGs, but they won’t render where it matters: your web browser. CSS wizardry will be necessary to load a bitmap on top of the SVG where appropriate.

Can take forever to load if complicated

If you make a complicated SVG, you’ll be hit with load times not unlike the aforementioned 2000px x 2000px image. You wouldn’t want to draw a complex painting in SVG format, for instance.

Gotta keep it simple

Apps like Illustrator and Inkscape can do much more than your web browser can handle. They’re full blown illustration apps, not web SVG creator apps. In fact, it’s safe to assume that 90% of the functionality that those kinds of application offer will be unavailable to viewers on the web. If you’re familiar with vector software, you’ll need to learn alternative ways to create the effects you’ve come to love.

Try to learn the language

SVG code isn’t something you can “see in your mind” like you can when you read HTML. It’s a series of instructions mapped respectively against one another, element by element, layer by layer. Unfortunately, as of today, you’ll probably have to dip in there from time to time, since there are some results even Adobe Illustrator doesn’t offer.

For instance, images in Illustrator have a canvas you draw on; it’s a set width by a set height. That’s great, but if you want to control those details in the browser, you need such information to be stripped away from the SVG itself (note: some browsers will interpret your CSS irrespective of any declared SVG dimensions, but not all do). It’s not particularly hard, but it can be a headache. It’s well worth spending a bit of time getting to know the language, so that you can manipulate SVGs even further.

 

SVG in the Wild

Logos

Logos should typically be in a vector format anyway, so they’re a great way to bring SVG into your website designs. By using the markup above, you have everything that you need to take your first SVG elements online.

Icons

Icons are a great candidate for SVG. So much so that I’ve created a full icon set using SVG graphics. The scalable nature of SVG means that the icons can be used at any size, accommodating a broad range of site designs.

Animations

Animations also make a great case for SVG graphic usage. Since animations are typically tethered to a fixed width and height, SVG goes some way towards helping animations get responsive. Flash used vector graphic elements, now HTML5 animations can too.

Background images

Background images have always been a tricky point for web developers; the potential load times, as I mentioned above, can be crazy. SVG background images can be as big as you like; they still have snappy load times providing they aren’t really complex.

Conclusion

All in all, resolution independence is a fantastic goal for web designers and developers alike to strive towards. It’ll even mean their design tastes will be out of date before their site imagery is. While it’s important to approach them with your eyes open, it’s pretty clear to see how SVG graphics can move you closer to a future of total resolution independence.

When you load up an SVG enabled site on a high resolution device like an iPad 3, and you zoom in, you’ll be sold.

I hope this article goes some way towards encouraging resolution independent thinking in web design and development, and I hope that it has encouraged some of you to think about how SVG can work for your next site.

I’ve been in the SVG pool for a while, and I have to say, the water has never been more lovely.

Principles of Creating Effective Web Designs to Attract Visitors

Visual design is important however, the website’s fate depend more on the usability and its efficacy. While you are designing a website, make sure it is a user-centric design because users’ are the most important aspect behind any website’s success. If your website has a feature that is problematic or non-functional from users’ end, you should simple remove it. Precisely, an effective design will always work best for your website. Thankfully, the designers’ of today has realized the importance of an effective web design due to which web designing industry has seen a significant change in web designing. The best part is that visitors do not have to face those flashy advertisements and loud talking. The websites have become more interactive.

Instead of getting into implementation details of various features, in this article we will be focusing more on significant principles and approaches, which designers should use in a proper way to create an effective web design.

Principles To Follow For Creating An Effective Web Design:

Before you start following any principles, it is important for you to understand the mentality of your users. Start thinking from a user’s perspective and understand their ways of interacting with a website and its features.

Analyze User’s Mind:

Putting yourself in a user’s shoe is not that difficult. Analyze yourself when you are in a store and the way you act as a customer. Yes, this is exactly the way your visitors act when they see your website. Honestly speaking and we all will accept this fact; most of don’t even read the entire text of the website. Your user will quickly scan your website and whatever feature attracts him in the first place, it will be clicked. This is normally how a user will browse through your website. Following are a few things that users’ will appreciate in your website:

–       Quality content:

Users’ are always looking for quality content and if they find desired content on your website, they will ignore the minus points of your website i.e., layout OR flashy advertisements. So, make sure you provide them with quality content.

–       Scanning the content:

Highlight important points in your website. Always keep in mind that users will not read the whole content, they will only scan it.

–       Users are always busy:

Web users do not have much time and patience to explore your website. You should work on providing instantaneous satisfaction to your visitors, as a web designer.

–       Users’ don’t always make the best choices:

Your website should have a good optimization because users’ are used to click instantly on links they like instead of searching in the first place.

Principles of Effective Web Design:

If you want to a have an effective web design, you should follow the rules mentioned below:

1. Simplicity:

Your website will adaptable for users only if it is not-so-complicated. I know and I understand that you want your website to look great however; this does not mean that you should fill your page with nonsense. The distractions will only confuse your visitor. So, make sure that you keep your website simple and if you are a good designer, you will make sure the simplicity looks attractive too.

2. Don’t test users’ patience:

In every feature that you provide to users’ through your website, make sure that requirements from users’ end are nominal. If you pop-up long forms in front of a new user, he will simple leave your website and may never visit again. A very good advice to all web designers would be to keep the requirements minimal related to personal data because this is exactly where a user will get annoyed.

3. Avoid Waffle – Only facts:

As mentioned above effective content if very important for any website. Users’ don’t like it when you waffle and exaggerate the facts. If you want to win the trust of your visitors, make sure you mention everything clearly and precise. Only mention the important stuff and rest of the useless stuff should be scrubbed out.

4. Expose your features properly:

I personally love one thing about modern web designs. They provide a proper guidance to users in order to begin their surfing on the website. You must have seen steps ‘1-2-3’ and this is exactly what I have been talking about. This is a great way to make users’ see the features available in your website and how to reach them.

5. Effective Writing:

The content of your website should be written in web style catering to web users’. You need to talk business and avoid anything else. Also, make sure you use the web terms for specific features on your website. For instance, ‘Sign Up’ is always better than ‘Start Now.’ Effective writing includes; precise and to-the-point sentences, scan-able content, which includes headings and like I said, common web language should be used.

6. Avoid distractions:

If your website doesn’t really have anything to do with social networking websites, try not to add ‘follow’ links on the main of the page. Yes, promoting your website on social networking websites is a great way to get an increase in traffic however; it can always prove to be a distraction for users. If you want your users to focus on their main goal, avoid such distractions and remember these are distractions only if your site does not need them.

7. Effective usage of White Space:

White space’s importance is often underrated. White space can actually make your website look attractive and welcoming. It gives users a break from all the new complex web designs. White space is actually very effective. Why? Because it brings the simplicity effect, is soothing to the eye, makes layout look beautiful and last but not the least, the content can be scanned easily.

8. Web conventions are good:

Just because your website’s design is conventional, it does not make it a boring one. In fact this is a great way to save your visitor from learning and guessing process. Visitor will already know where the features are and they will not have to find them.

9. TETO Principle:

TETO is a casual term used for test early-test often which means testing your website is very, very important. You must know that testing of a website should be a repetitive process. You should conduct usability tests to make sure that your web design is an effective one.

10. Do not make it difficult for users:

Confusing, misleading and putting your users in a difficult situation, is not good. I have seen websites asking for Zip code and not many of us know the correct one so why ask?

Conclusion:

Above are a few features that a website should possess in order to be an effective one. Bottom line; if you really want to create an effective web design, follow the above mentioned rules.

Generate Innovative Ideas – Make It Happen

Well, the title might bring a wave of thought into the minds of not-so-creative people and they will conclude instantly that being creative is not their cup of tea. A common notion is that you are born creative/innovative or else generating innovative ideas is something impossible for you. Well, I don’t agree with this at all because everyone is creative in their very own way. Yes, you might not be as creative as Thomas Edison however, according to some researches, each human being has a creative capability and all he needs to do is discover it. If you are not naturally creative, you can follow a certain methods of generating ideas and you might even end up surprising yourself with your creative idea.

Idea Conceptualization – Focus on the goal

As mentioned above, generating ideas will definitely require some methods especially for those who are not-so-creative. You need to brainstorm in order to invoke some great ideas into your mind. However, the most important thing to do for idea conceptualization is to stay focused and know your goal. A crisp focus on your goal will help you achieving what you have been wanting to.

Also, make sure that if you are content with one of your ideas, you should plan on improvising it.

Enhancement or Innovation?

Many people try to come up with innovations however, sometimes these innovations are considered to be only an enhancement. Why? It could be possible that it is just an improvement in the product. If you really want to be creative, you should execute your idea as soon as you have it, whether it is an enhancement or an innovation. Proper execution of your idea is very important so the minute you think of something, start working on it before someone else comes up with it.

Now, if you are a newbie in the creative world, let me educate you with few but very useful tools to use and get inspiration from in order to generate creative ideas. These tools are a good way to begin with and once you get going, you will generate innovative ideas in no time.

Generate the ideas by exploiting web:

Web is full of ideas and you can find plenty of things that can inspire you for an idea generation. Random browsing related to your goal can make you think about various perspectives related to your goal. For you, these things can be totally new and you might generate an idea through something you were even unaware of. Always remember that internet is full of information and every creative person looks for inspiration. You never know your inspiration could be somewhere in the web.

Discussion Forums:

Discussion forums are again a great thing for brain storming. Random conversations and discussions can help you a lot with your thinking process. You will also find comments of experts in the forums and they can help you further with your idea generation.

Photo Browsing:

If random web browsing did not prove to be fruitful, you can always browse for various images. Some people are not inspired by words and you might be one of them. Try to focus on your goal and search for something relevant. Images relevant to your goal will help you a lot in generating an idea.

Online Idea Generator Tool:

If you are facing a creativity block, you can visit various online idea generator tools. However, this might not prove to be really helpful if you are focusing on something because such tools provide you with random three word phrases. But this tool is very beneficial for improving your creative side.

Pick an idea from random conversations:

If you are unable to generate an idea relevant to the concept you have in your mind, you should discuss the concept with your friends, family, classmates and lecturer. All you need to do is discuss the concept with a bunch of people you trust so that you can actually listen to them and pick interesting ideas from their conversation. We all know that when several people put their heads together, they are bound to come up with interesting and innovative remarks. These conversations will definitely inspire you in generating an idea.

Research:

Sometimes online researches are not enough and if you really want to do something innovative, go for a physical research and face-to-face conversations. By keeping your concept in mind, talk to the relevant people, visit relevant places, if possible. This will definitely give you inspiration.

Defer conclusions/criticisms:

When you are generating ideas, I would recommend you to stop being critical about them. You should not be one of those people who defer every second though saying the execution is impossible. Yes, you can judge your ideas but once you are done with the thinking. While you are generating the ideas, don’t be a critic.

Go for quantity:

I know this might sound strange because we have often heard that quality is better that quantity. However, the more the merrier is the case here. Having lots of different ideas will give you an opportunity to get selective. One or two ideas are bound to be better than rest of the lot, right? You can always select the great ideas and work on execution.

Go for wild/unusual ideas:

If you really want to get creative, allow your creativity to flow instead of taming it down. You will have a lot of time to worry about the execution of the idea so while you are thinking, just think about the ideas and jot them down.

Deep thinking:

Regardless of the fact if you are a creative person or not, we all need our daily dose of deep thinking. Sometimes, staying away from people and technology can bring a lot of good ideas your way. Give yourself some alone time and think.

Conclusion:

The above mentioned points should only be considered as a technique to get your creativity going. Honestly, there can never be a single best way to be creative. Every individual will have its own way of generating ideas and it could be totally different from the ones mentioned above. I believe the most important thing is to generate an idea and then execute it instead of abandoning it. Execution will boost your self confidence and it will help you in generating ideas in future.

How to make design decisions

This post examines an important part of the design process that, for some reason or other, is often omitted from community conversations. Its aim is to get the design community talking about the ‘whys’ — including why they are important.

One advantage the design industry has going for it is its helpful, giving community, and that community’s desire to learn and grow. Just look around at the conversations had at conferences and online. Experiences are shared, techniques are passed along, and so many helpful hints and tidbits are blogged. But one element seems absent.

For all the conversations we are having, we don’t discuss why we make the decisions we make in our projects. It’s our choices that provide insights and opportunities. We should talk about them.

 

Why ask ‘why’?

Perhaps we don’t realize that the rationale behind our decisions can be valuable to others in the community. Perhaps we don’t think deeply about our decision-making processes because so many decisions are made in the early stages of our projects. We often skip ahead in our retellings; we focus on technique when we share, rather than overall experience, and we show off the techniques that tied the end-solution all together without any explanation about how we got there.

This not only sells our process short, it sells the industry short as a whole.

 

Help the community learn

Revealing our decision-making processes and discussing why we chose to use various techniques can be useful when teaching others. Our choices offer insight into the problems we run into and the solutions we come up with. If we want to teach others to walk in our shoes, this is vital information. The choices we once made were opportunities for us to learn, and they could become opportunities for others to learn. Why do we give strict instructions for getting from point A to point B instead of just handing over the road map?

Help clients understand

The more we talk about why we made the decisions we made while working on a project, and the better we get at expressing them, the more we’ll be able to help our clients understand why they should side with us when there are clashes between visions. Numerous stories populate the blogosphere that highlight how often this type of situation arises. Clients push for things to be included in projects that could potentially compromise the design’s effectiveness, and we push back.

The better we are at making the case for our design decisions, and the more forethought and research we have put into them, the more credence our claims have. We may even be able to show that our decisions were made in a more thorough manner than those we are arguing against. Our processes are deliberate, and it’s because of the decisions that drive them. Demonstrating this to our clients could be the extra push they need to give us clearance to follow through on our ideas.

Track the creative process

How this profession is perceived is one problem that has been discussed on the web by the community. Web design is often discounted as a whole because some think our work is virtually effortless. People think all we need to do is press a magic button and, suddenly, fully functional, tested and tried products instantly appear online. That is not how it works. Perhaps this stems from the fact that non-creative people do not understand the creative process?

Discuss your creative process. Give your clients a revealing look behind the curtain so they get a sense of the amount of time and thought that goes into our products before we even begin to render anything. Keeping a lid on our own tendencies to gloss over these vital steps could be the beginning of breaking through that mindset.

 

Add depth of understanding to projects

The kind of conversation I’m advocating gives insight into the full meanings of our designs, straight from those who created them. While there can be an interpretive element to design, recall that specific end goals were set for each project, and shedding light on the way those goals were reached can negate the need for interpretation.

Furthermore, if, from the outset, we expected we’d be having these conversations (if we knew we’d have to provide said road map), then we might consider each of our choices more carefully, and thus strengthen our own grasp of a given project.

This can also benefit the design in other ways — with regard to appreciation, for example. We know that design should not overshadow the brand or service it promotes, but it doesn’t hurt to build functional designs that users can appreciate. The more people understand a design and the decisions that shaped it, the more likely it is that they’ll connect with the design. Connection leads to appreciation, which is intimately connected with success.

Highlight professional expertise

I’ve glossed over this in other sections, but it deserves an explicit mention. A good designer can bring together complementary elements to create an effective design, but a great one can tell you exactly why each of those elements was chosen and just what makes them work effectively with one another. The more we talk with our clients about the why behind the how, the more we highlight our professional skills and know-how. Take the opportunity to demonstrate the expertise that will make you that much more desirable in the job market and give your clients confidence in your skills. These discussions can open doors for us that might have otherwise remained closed.

Success in this business is not so much about price points as it is about clarity of vision. Let current and prospective clients know that we have the talent to back up our asking prices and that the works in our galleries are more than just happy accidents.

 

Stop holding back

When you start to examine the numerous benefits of sharing your decision-making processes, you might start to wonder what is holding you back. Why haven’t you been having these conversations?

What if we are holding back because we don’t know why we made the decisions we made? Have we become so overworked that we just aren’t doing the research we should be doing in order make the most informed decisions we can make? Maybe too many of us are bluffing our way through the decision-making process.

Even if none of that is true, we have to consider what impression we are giving our clients. Maybe we just don’t have time to spare for more meetings, but it might not be coming across that way. As a community, we should make the time to make these conversations happen.

What’s the point of favicons?

When I start telling people about the importance of a favicon to their overall online branding strategy, they usually say the same thing: “Aren’t you taking this branding thing a little bit too far?”

My answer usually goes: “Not if you’re serious about your own branding efforts!”

It’s true, favicons are very little things, probably the least important bit of a site, but it’s attention to detail that makes a site stand out; and even if it sounds crazy, favicons are very important from a branding point-of-view.

Considering WDD is a website oriented to a designer audience, my guess is that many of you already know what favicons are and how to create them; but this article may still help you to undertstand why you should make them, and also serve as a good resource page.

I’m sharing a big list with favicon-related resources below, so consider bookmarking this page for future reference. Oh, and if you do, notice the WDD favicon right in your bookmark list 😉

Just in case you’re not a designer, or any sort of black-belt in favicon-arts, this article covers probably everything you will ever need to know about these elusive little 16×16 pixels squares, and even some interesting favicuriosities as well. So enjoy!

 

What is a favicon?

Favicons are small square images usually 16×16 pixels which are used by web browsers to show a graphical representation of the site being visited at the left side of the browser’s address bar. You have probably seen many favicons before, even if you don’t know what they are. If there’s any doubt, the image below will help.

If you’re interested in understanding a piece of internet history, here’s a interesting fact:

The word favicon is a portamentau made out of the words “favorite” and “icon”, and it was named as such because it was first supported by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 5 and just in case you don’t use IE, this browser bookmarking feature is called favorites.

 

What’s the purpose of a favicon?

Back in the early days of the internet, tools such as Google Analytics were mere dreams in the minds of a few web-nerds, so as strange as this may sound, at that time, favicons were used as a way to estimate website traffic by counting the number of visitors who bookmarked the page. (That’s another interesting snippet in the history of the internet!)

But interesting facts aside, the main reason for having favicons nowadays is to improve user experience. Favicons are used in all modern browsers at the address bar, in the links bar, in the bookmarking area and in its browsing tabs. Besides that, a few browsers also show favicons whenever you create a shortcut link for the corresponding website in your desktop and your mobile device.

Surely the main reason to have a favicon is the obvious improvement in user experience. A website without one will show a generic browser symbol on all the points-of-interaction I mentioned above, and if you care about your user experience, you must care about favicons.

But I cannot avoid seeing things through the lense of branding, my area of expertise, so I think favicons are even more relevant from a branding point-of-view. Again, with so many points of interaction, not using them to raise brand awareness is a crime. Truth is that finding creative ways to improve your online branding is always a challenging task, and having a favicon is an easy and simple way of accomplish that. So get yourself one my friend!

 

How to create a favicon?

Creating a website favicon is easy as pie. As a matter of fact, you don’t even need to be a designer to do that. Surely it helps if you are, as you can put your skills to work and create something that really stands out, but even the less tech-savvy of us can do it in about 5 minutes or less, using the right tools.

The websites in the list below allow you to create a favicon simply by uploading a pre-existent image. So if you want to create a favicon for your brand, all you need to do is to upload your logo to one of the following sites and download the favicon file. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Here’s the Favicon generator list you’re looking for:

The websites above vary a lot in terms of the resulting file you get; especially in terms of file size and extension. If you are looking to get the most compatible file possible, I strongly recommend downloading a image sized 16×16 pixels with the “ico” format.

If you need some inspiration, try checking out the favicon galleries below:

 

How to use your favicon?

Once you have your favicon carefully designed, installing it on your server shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes in two easy steps. For that you’ll need access to your website root folder and a text editing tool to change your website HTML code.

Step 1

You’ll need to upload the “favicon.ico” file to your server. In order to do that, point your browser address bar to your FTP server; your URL should look similar to this:

ftp://username@yourwebsite.com

Press enter and the browser will prompt you for an username and password before granting access to the file server. Once you’re in, just upload the “favicon.ico” file to the root folder and you’re done.

Step 2

Now you’ll need to edit your website HTML page to help browsers find your favicon image. Keep your FTP window open, find and download the “index.html” or “header.php” file from your server and follow the steps below according to the file you get:

If your website is made of plain HTML, insert the code below in the HEAD area of the “index.html” file, and don’t forget to change “yoursite.com” for your own website address.

<link rel="shortcut icon" type="image/x-icon" href="http://yourwebsite.com/favicon.ico">

If you use WordPress, insert the code below in the HEAD area of your “header.php” file.

<link rel="shortcut icon" type="image/x-icon" href="<?php bloginfo('url') ?>/favicon.ico">

With that done, upload the file back to where you got it from. You’re done!

On a matter of fact, most modern browsers are smart enough to find your favicon file even without any piece of code, but only as long as the favicon image has 16×16 pixels, it has been named as “favicon.ico” and is saved in the root folder of your website folder.

How to create a favicon in Photoshop

With so many tools available to help you create your favicon, why would you want to take the hard road and create it in Photoshop? Well, if you’re a designer and want to get the best out of your favicon, certainly that’s the professional way of doing it. The trick is that Photoshop doesn’t natively support “ico” files, so you need to download this plugin from Telegraphics.

Be sure to install it before following the tutorial below. Photoshop will not work without it.

Create a new document in Photoshop selecting the menu item “File” and the following option “New”, then set your canvas at 64×64 pixels. Why? Since the 16×16 final favicon size is so small, having a bigger canvas to work on will help you get your creative juice flowing. Then paste your logo into the document and release your magical unicorn-creative power.

Once you’re done, simply select the menu “Image” and the following option “Image Size” and reduce the image to 16×16 pixels. Remember to click on “Resample Image” and choose “Bicubic Sharper”, this is to make sure the image doesn’t blur when resized. If you don’t like the final result simply undo your latests changes with “AltCtrl/AltCmd+Z” and keep on working on the design until you’re happy with it.

In order to finish your favicon all you have to do is to click on the menu “File” and the following option “Save As”, there you remember to name your file as “favicon.ico”. Once again, job done!

 

Conclusion

Favicons are one of those little things that we usually don’t pay too much attention to, but the truth is that far from being insignificant, they are a very important part of the web, both from a user interface perspective and a branding point-of-view.

Some say that great things come in small sizes, and I think that applies to favicons as well, because any web designer and/or branding specialist who always take the time to add a favicon to their clients’ sites, even when the client has no idea of what a favicon is, demonstrates a great deal of professionalism and attention to detail; the sort of quality that every client appreciates.

The Importance of a Logo

A logo is a symbol or emblem used by commercial enterprises, institutions, and organizations to promote public recognition. In simpler terms, a logo can be defined as the face or brand of a business. Because a logo carries so much significance, the task of designing one becomes that much more important.

Logo designing, therefore, is a major step that a business owner might undertake. Be it a commercial business or an E-commerce business, logo designing is an extremely important task for all. Logo design is not just confined to businesses; it includes schools social organizations, and even individuals.

The fact is that every enterprise that wants to build a brand and leave a mark on public consciousness designs a logo. While schools and institutions might not put a huge effort into designing their logo, business owners who are competing in a fast-growing market spend a lot of money and time in designing their logos. The reason behind this is to attract enough consumer attention toward the design and direct traffic toward their business. Designing a logo, however, is not that simple. One needs to understand various factors and consider many things in the process of designing a logo. This article will discuss ten of the most important things one needs to consider when designing a logo. Before going into those ten magical logo design tips, however, let’s understand a few other things about logo design.

We will start with the benefits of logo design or managing a logo for a website, business, or organization. This section is especially for those who still have second thoughts about designing a logo or are unaware of the benefits of a logo for their business or organization.

Benefits of Logo Design

  • Builds corporate identity:

    To keep it simple, let’s ask this question. How often do you remember a company’s full name and its business description while browsing the Internet or reading a newspaper? I’d guess not that often. In that case, you must realize that your audience will experience the same when it comes to your business. To avoid this issue, you need to build a logo that defines your business and gives it a recognizable image. A logo affects a user much more than content alone and it is more easily remembered. In short, a combination of name and logo better identifies you.

  • Enhances branding:

    Every business dreams about making it big, and a very important factor is having a recognizable logo. . How do you identify a branded t-shirt? The answer is its logo. Nike or Levi’s is not the same until the product has its logo imprinted. Similarly, McDonald’s and KFC burgers are brands, and the logo says it all. In the process of building a business, it is important to build a brand, and this becomes easier with a logo. A logo boosts the brand it represents and, therefore, even television channels put much thought into making the most minute changes to their logo. The fact is that logos really do matter.

  • Makes an advertising plan easier:

    A logo plays an important role in the task of advertisement. Imagine the gateway of a corporate mall or a company’s investor or partner page; the first thing that catches your eye is the logo. You cannot expect your users to read through the entire billboard while crossing the road, nor can you expect them to read a complete description of your business on someone else’s site. In these cases your logo says it all. In many cases, you cannot put up a long description for various practical reasons. Thus, a logo makes your advertising plan easier and yet impressive.

There are additional benefits to creating a logo, the above being the major ones. Now, after understanding the importance of having a logo design, the next major factor is how to create a logo design. If you are a professional designer yourself, by following certain logo design tips you can create your own design. If not, you can hire someone to design your logo. In both cases, there are important factors that you need to consider. Let’s talk about this briefly before outlining the 10 important points in designing a logo.

You design a logo:

When you design your own logo, you must first understand and implement certain requirements, while making sure that the logo conforms to other general considerations. The general considerations of logo design are the factors that you need to consider whether you are a buyer of a logo design or design it yourself. Make sure that you have used the name somewhere in the logo. When names are too long, designers tend to use initials. if you are designing a logo for your website, keep it in Jpeg format and a small size, so that the logo doesn’t increase your web site’s loading time. Make sure that the typography and color combinations work well before confirming your logo. These are some of the important factors one needs to consider when designing a logo. A few other considerations, some being major ones, are discussed in a later section.

You ask another to design a logo:

Now, when you are asking someone else to design a logo, there can be two cases: either you are hiring a designer to do so or going to a logo designing company. In both cases, you need to research and submit your exact requirements. Always look at past logo designs that the company or designer has done. Consider their views, as they are experienced and make your points as well, since the logo design is for your business. Address the issues of typography and color, review samples critically before finalizing, and make sure that the logo represents your business and has the capability to build a brand. When all these things are in place, you are ready to go. But first, there are other important things that you need to consider while designing a logo, and a list of the ten most important factors follows.

Ten Most Important Factors to Consider While Designing a Logo

1. Relevance of design with the business:

Just because you love the color yellow, you cannot simply build a logo in different shades of yellow. The background color, the symbols, in short the total effect, should be in sync with your business. For example, if your business is about cooking, your logo should talk about cooking and not about dresses, shoes or bags. Your logo is the emblem that the public will recognize. One of the main reasons behind your creating a logo for your business is building a relationship with customers and gain their attention. And this benefit is available only when you design a logo with more than 70% relevancy so that people identify your logo along with your business. This also helps building a brand for your business. As users tend to remember images and symbols more so than content, a logo serves to reach out more to customers. The logo should resemble your products in order to increase business. Moreover, the logo color should sync well with the website, so that the resemblance of both can also build traction.. Thus, the better the designs work together, the greater the value of the logo.

2. Future vision of business:

Everyone wants to be successful, and since designing a logo is such an important task for your business, you need to consider this throughout your design work. When you are designing a logo, you can design it for today and perhaps decide to change it tomorrow. Once you create a logo, however, it should be forever. Even though some companies may change a logo, they do it generally to offer a new look often when they are redesigning their site. This includes a huge risk, because your existing customers might not like the new face of your business. It is always beneficial, when designing a logo, therefore, to keep in mind your future vision. Suppose your business offers baby care products. This doesn’t mean that you should necessarily create a logo with a baby in it. You might like to expand your business to kids’ products and maybe young men and women products as well. In that case your baby logo will be irrelevant. You should, therefore, always consider your future vision for your business while designing your logo. Similarly, a company offering k12 education should not specifically create a logo with a k12 imprinted on it when the owner has plans to enlarge it beyond k12. Future outlook and a vision of growth for your business should be considered while you are designing a logo.

3. See through your users’ eyes:

Users of your products are always the priority concern for your business. You are building a business to gain traffic and earn revenue and both come about via your targeted audience. Since your business logo will be the face of your business, when designing a logo you need to consider your audience’s perspective along with your taste. If you are designing a kids’ site, make sure your logo is targeted for kids, and design something that attracts kids to your business. Similarly, if you are creating a design for professionals, you cannot get too funky while designing your logo. Below, examples provide some light regarding this. Though some professionals might be fun-loving and playful at heart in personal life, when you are serving professionals give them only what they expect. For example, even though you love extravagant colors, landing in an educational website with those colors may cause you to wonder whether the site will provide something of value. In that respect, always design your logo in sync with an audience’s thought. The best way to know this is to get reviews from a few people who can be your targeted audience before giving the final green light to your design.

4. Look at competitors’ sites:

Yes, you are hearing it right. You need to do research on your competitors and how they have used their logo. This, however, doesn’t signify that you need to create a replica of it; if you do so, there are many drawbacks. But what you need to do with this research is to think through the process of your business field. You will come across various business products, and one example could be fairness cream. There you might see that fairness cream for ladies should have baby pink and white in it, and when you browse across hundreds of fairness products, you observe only these two colors. The reason is not that one is copying the other, but rather that people relate fairness with white and baby pink, something that is soft and light. You cannot sell a black color fairness cream to a woman; she might love wearing a black gown to a party, but convincing her that a black logo fairness cream will make her fairer is something near to impossible. Another example can be most of the PMP certification related sites that have blue color as most prominent. The reason behind this is PMI, the institute that offers PMP credentials. Similarly, while looking at logos when you do research on competitors’ sites, you need to understand people’s ideas toward the product, and you need to create your logo considering this idea. While you might think that doing research on a competitor’s site for a logo design might not give you significant benefits, ignoring the same will be a mistake. Consider this an important point.

5. Create an immediate impact:

We are all aware of the importance of first impressions. Since we’ve established that your logo is the face of your business, it needs to be creative and attractive to pull customers in. You cannot offer a dull and boring logo and expect crowds to come to your business. Note that “dull and boring” here doesn’t refer to colors. The fact is, you need to be creative and use your imagination when designing your logo, while at the same time staying within the limitations given. For example, the Puma brand has a leaping lion in its logo. A Puma is a feline that resembles a lion. It identifies with personal power. Thus, when the company was considering this logo, they kept in mind all of these factors: the meaning, the symbolic representation, and the resemblance to their product. They have created their products ranging from shoes to bags and dresses with a selling point of power. This creates an immediate impact on users, and they instantly identify the Puma brand with a lion in its logo. Thus, you need to make certain that your logo is striking and impressive when designing your logo.

6. Keep it simple:

Someone once said “simple is beautiful,” and you need to keep this in mind while designing a logo. In order to fulfill the previous priority factor, you should not end up building a complex and difficult logo design. Logos should make users remember them, and in the process of making it impressive, if you make it too complex, it would be more difficult for your user to remember it. You need, therefore, to use a simple approach while designing a logo. You should not experiment with a host of different ideas in the same logo, as that might end up causing confusion. Try, therefore, to keep it simple and subtle. Your preference should be to make your logo easy to remember, and this is possible when you keep your design simple, which would include typefaces, color mixtures, and icons.

Below are the final and most important list of important factors while designing a logo.

7. Size is important:

Just because the logo serves as the face of your business, you cannot create a large icon displaying your business appropriately. Absolutely not. You need to focus on the size of your logo. You logo should not be very large because this might adversely affect your future promotional campaigns. Your logo should be of such size, shape and form that even if you resize it, it does not lose its impact. Besides, when you rescale a larger logo to a smaller size, the letters and the pixels will not be as clear and impressive as it actually is. Keep your logo small and clean and yet attractive. Also when you are using a logo for a website, you need to make sure that the logo is a smaller size so that it does not affect the loading time of your site. Thus, size plays an important role in logos and, therefore, you need to consider size as a priority while designing a logo.

8. Color combinations can be tricky:

While designing your logo, an important thing that you need to consider is color. Color mixtures, however, can be tricky. You need to be an expert or at least need to have knowledge of colors in order to use it for designing. Color combination can either enhance the look of your logo or completely destroy it. Be very careful, therefore, while choosing your colors. An ideal choice would be to go with subtle colors that are not too harsh on one’s eyes. Also, do not go for too many color combinations; select colors that harmonize with your design and complement the site’s theme colors.

9. Using clip art may not be a great idea:

Although incorporating clip art would be an easy idea, you should not generally choose that unless you have sufficient reason to do so. When you use clip art on your design, one of the major disadvantages is that it might look like a duplicate of a previous design created with similar clip art. This will compromise authenticity. Your logo needs to be unique and exceptional, targeted only for your business, and, therefore, using clip art might not be a great idea in this case. Your approach is to create an identity of your business and anything that resembles someone else’s will be a detriment for you. Make sure, therefore, that you stay creative and unique while designing a logo.

10. Logo should be long-lasting:

This subhead is not to confuse you but to tell you that logos are ideally created once for a company. Be sure, therefore, when making your choice in selecting the typefaces, the colors, the shapes, sizes or icons. Anything that is in vogue can be an obvious choice, but think about tomorrow. The same in-vogue choice might not be adored by people at a later time, and in fact considered old and not authentic. Consider, therefore, the longevity of your logo while designing it.

These are the major factors that you need to consider while designing a logo. After designing your logo, always make sure that you have it scrutinized carefully. Reviewers can include your clients, targeted audiences, and experts. All of these people will help to catch the follies of your logo design that you might have missed. With completion of a review session and perhaps some rework, your logo should be ready to get launched as the face of your business.