My personal goal as a designer is to become a master of my craft. I’m a brand identity designer who focuses on mapping business goals to design strategy. I help businesses reach their goals with their communication and products to craft the visual approach to their brand.
Design Principle 4 — Typefaces and how to use them
What I will be covering in this guide is not about specific typefaces, which typefaces are better when paired, or choosing what font files to use. We are talking about being able to effectively choose what typeface you want to use solely by the characteristics of it.
The compass guide to designing your own custom lapel pins
A few months back, we had a chance to look at the ways that you can design and order your own custom vinyl stickers. Now, though I’m not a print designer by trade, a lot of you messaged me back saying that it was “Super helpful” for them.
there are very few businesses that actually value design. What they value is achieving their goals and getting business results, with some widely unaware what good design (or any effort towards design at all) can do for their business.
Last week we took a better look at how you can find a unique market for the work you do. Hopefully, that post was able to drum up some ideas of what audiences you are most equipped to work with out there
Changing the question of — “how do I find better clients?”
Finding great clients has never been easy I’ve been riding my third year of freelance design. With nearly fifteen clients that I’ve worked with over those two “completed” years, I have learned that finding great clients is not easy.
This documentation is just part of the initial first steps of the UXdesign process, so you should know that what you see here today may be different tomorrow which will be rebuilt and refined to the final product.
Just a lighthearted talk today about the connections we make as designers. We started talking about this a few weeks back in the design community and I figured I’d share my experience with you all here too.
Design is “about the details,” just don’t ignore the bigger picture
Details are a huge part of what makes a design go from good to great and from great to excellent. We love to be meticulous about the smallest details of our designs. But after spending all of that time going over everything, it feels “off”… Ever wondered why your designs just don’t look right?
The power of consistency in branding design Defining the experience of your products and services
Branding starts happening when you take the brand’s Visual Identity, Messaging, Activity, Products/Services, and Name and give it meaning. Your collection of previous work, products, services, marketing efforts, and different social media accounts for your company become a part of your brand.
Defining the brand experience through the user experience roadmap A look into user flow charts
Recently, I announced to the members of the community that I’m building something pretty intense for them in the background. Both the front end and the back end of the website are in dire need of an update, so my plan is to get a more permanent design solution for the site.
A few weeks ago, I released an article going over some simple steps of UX design that people often overlooked. And though parts of these areas of the user experience may feel like basic rules, they can be severely passed over. One of which is being the microcopy, or the text that we use in our UI designs.
I love-love-love letterpress prints. It leaves an impression (literally) when you give or receive something that gets put through this print process. It takes a business to a level above what standard printing could do.
The width that this design discipline can span is insane. Throughout the rise of UX Design, there have been very specialized fields pop up within the discipline. UX has also cannibalized the Data Visualization, Information architecture, and User Interface design fields along with things like wayfinding and architecture.
What is design strategy? Why we need to opt for a more professional process
This term means a many different things to designers nowadays. What design strategy sounds like to one might be completely different to the other. The thing to understand about strategy in design is that we are all a part of it, in both large an small forms, with different roles along the process.
I just completed two years of moonlighting as a freelance designer.
Here’s what building two design focused businesses at the same time looks like. Two years ago in this first week of December, I started learning to code websites. I had my eyes set on becoming a freelance web designer. The glam and glory was appealing, meaning that I was able to do something that interested me (finally) and get paid handsomely to do so.
As we continue to improve our design skills, we train our eye to notice really good design. One side effect however, we tend to not look for the things where we might be creating bad designs. It just happens that eventually you learn to avoid these mistakes with time, practice, and dedication to getting better (which includes seeking feedback on your work).
Stop getting stuck on your digital design concepts.
Often, I am trying to finish a logo design or branding project with a lot going on. There’s a certain project that I have been trying to finish, but I have very little time during the day right now to do work. However, this project is special. I wanted to make sure I had the opportunity to use my “more professional” process. Unfortunately, I forgot a crucial part of the design process.
You might eventually find yourself in a position where you need to say “no” to a client. Here’s how to do so professionally. We’re designers because we’re good at making things. We use a lot of our head-space to think of creative solutions to your client’s problems. We use art, math, time, and resources to create something that gets our clients closer to their goals. The thing is, the world is scarce with people who value the work we do, or even understand what we do and what it achieves.
Design bound by ethics — Being able to sleep at night after work.
Design is a beautiful thing. You have the ability to take an idea effectively make it a great experience for another person. In other words, your design has the power to affect the people that come face to face with it. When you have that type of role in the design process of these ideas, you are bound ethically to how your design helps or hinders someone their goal.
Please mind the gap. The gap of where you are now to where you want to be
Have you felt recently that there’s a gap between where you are at now and where you want to be? I tend to have this feeling a lot while I’m working on my businesses for So Magnetic and Compass of Design. I see a huge gap between where I want everything to be and where it’s at now.
Overthinking things? Here’s some help with all of the mental overwhelm.
I’m going to (probably incorrectly) guess that you don’t deal with being stressed out over all the design work you have to do, the emails coming in, the phone calls you miss, the family time you’re running late to… You probably don’t deal with being overwhelmed at all.
Finding the best design resources — And having a gold-miner’s mindset
It always seems the more you read into someone or something, the more you’re able to find things that you don’t agree with. Just think of all the talk with politics or healthcare. (or don’t, that’ll get you sidetracked). Everything out there has things that you have to tune out to get to the good stuff.
Networking as a designer — Stop trying to shake trees.
Let’s talk about your heroes. Boy, wouldn’t it be nice to be noticed by big name people every once in a while? You follow them and see their name all over on the internet getting interviews and sharing awesome design work. It’s like there’s some type of inner circle where every big name person on the internet knows each other.
One of the things that you begin to wonder when you’re starting out as a freelance designer is whether or not you should choose to brand what you are doing. I’ve had really good conversations with members of the Compass of Design Community about branding their freelance business that led to some interesting discoveries. The choice of what to brand yourself as is never an easy one. You want to connect your heart and soul to what you do.
Onboarding new Design Clients — How to deliver the design proposal
You’ll only need a proposal if there’s a client you’re trying to secure. For most of us, we write proposals to help with onboarding the client. It’s a part of the process that may seem tedious, but you’ll thank yourself later on for using one.
Onboarding new Design Clients — Win your next client in 15 seconds
Sometimes we’re forced into gatherings to socialize with other people. We as creatives can be very introverted sometimes, thinking that all we have to focus on is doing good work. Sometimes these uncomfortable social situations come when you are returning from college for the winter, or it’s one of your friend’s baby showers, or you just got done at some design meetup and now you’re at an after party.
Onboarding new Design Clients — Position yourself as a professional designer
A professional is someone who holds themselves to a high standard AND can achieve those standards of their industry. A professional recognizes where the responsibilities lie and taking accountability for them with their actions. You must make deliberate choices as a designer from your own evaluations or you’ll have those choices made for you.
Onboarding new Design Clients — Asking the right questions
A great designer can be measured by the quality of questions they ask. It’s not the defining characteristic, but having an arsenal of great questions to ask helps ensure that you are able to do the best work you can possibly do and have the client on the same page as you.
Having that much to say about something shows that you either know it so well you could write a book, or that you really don’t know it well enough, otherwise you’d be able to explain it in it’s simplest form.
Recently, I shared an article about Marketing Yourself as a Designer. The article dives into the various ways that you can make sure that your skills as a designer don’t go unnoticed. Because let’s face it… Unless we’ve studied it in depth, marketing our skills is one of the hardest challenges that we have as a designer.
Sometimes we forget what it was like to start out in the design industry. For some, it’s a rude awakening when the things we were taught in college aren’t how it actually is out there. For others, it could be heading into the void when teaching yourself all the aspects of a new career choice. A lot of us are thrown into the ecosystem with no idea how the design world
Is it Better for a Designer to be a Generalist or Specialist?
When you start to focus on growing your skills, you poke around and borrow styles from all over the place. Borrowing ideas as a designer is a good way to figure out your own style. You may work on figuring out new tools, software, new material, or messaging. As your skills begin to improve, you may be wondering
Marketing is that topic that gets you added by a bot to all those lists on Twitter, or followed by fake accounts on Instagram, or shunned completely by your friends on Facebook for asking them to try your new (*insert thing here*). Why do we need to add it to our design career?
How can our role in design create a common language that is used throughout any department? What you see above is another micro part of the design process. It is both jam packed with other design principles and part of a bigger picture. We’ve been talking about systems for a few weeks and today we are wrapping the series up with my favorite system. The design system.
Both scale and proportion have their place in visual hierarchy. If you didn’t set this up at the beginning of your work, how would you know what size to make something? If you’ve just been “eye-balling” your size, does something about it just seem “off” with the design?
Grids are one of the best systems you can use to guide people through content. To use them, you have to have a good understanding of lines and shapes and their usage in design (we’ll go over this in depth during the Designing with Confidence course). They take the content that you are designing for and helps you arrange things in logical order and logical divisions.
It’s a sticky place to be when you only have a few hours to get some design work done. You might have been procrastinating or busy with other parts of your process. Either way, you’re running short on time and you haven’t even started on the design.
I thought about quitting design, my last effort I had to do something great for my family before I give up to work my “regular job” like my family raised me to do. You know, the kind of day job that supposedly gives you $20 an hour and a pension for working 35 years straight, along with side bonuses and profit sharing, 2 weeks paid time off with insurance and family leave?
It has never been easier to set up an online course. Places like Skillshare, Coach, or Gumroad make it insanely easy to put content up in this manner.We hear all the time about crazy launches of how you can earn tons of money and revenue from launching them. While it has worked for plenty of people, I feel like the buzz of getting content out for the sake of “creating my first course” will cause a lot of people to burn out from the idea of paying independent creators for in-depth material that they are willing to share.
The 50+ tools that I use as an independent designer
The past two years have been crazy busy in my development as a designer. I wanted to run through all of the equipment, services, and other tech I am using to create all of my work. You would think that the role of a designer was just creating small mockups or sketches and editing them in Adobe software to make it look pretty.
We all love clickbait. There’s some sort of unsatisfying feeling where the shot of dopamine hits us before we even open the article. What we get in return is a let down or repurposed garbled content that spew out from the community faucet.
Cut the Fluff — You want more confident communication? Cut out the filler in your sentences.
Strong communication stems from brevity. Brevity is a concise and exact use of words in writing or speech. With the art of language, having the exact choice of words to say more with less is a sincere form of mastery. Though you may never scrub your verbal dictionary perfectly clean of filler words, you can make a serious change in improving how you communicate your ideas to other people.
Iterate in public - closing the gap from idea to execution
Having a great idea is worth very little unless you plan on executing it. You could have an idea that would change the way clean water is spread through disparate countries, but unless you have the confidence to seek out how to execute it, that idea is just another passing thought. Once you act on that those thoughts, even a rudimentary execution starts to increase the value of your idea. Start iterating your ideas out in public.
All the pains and challenges one faces now are not going to be the same ones they experience 3 to 5 years down the road. As I am going through my second year, I aim to help these pains by prescribing my own experience and research in writing and collaboration.
5 tips for setting the right tone with your email list.
What do you remember about the last person you met? Usually the first meeting you remember if they seemed like a trustworthy person or not. Were they clumsy? Were they suave? Your first interaction with others is important on setting the right tone of any relationship. The same can be said for email marketing.
Writing case studies is a difficult task for many beginners. Some people claim that a case study doesn’t have to contain a lot of info and that you only need to show what you did, add a paragraph and call it good. Some people say you don’t even need to write case studies for everything, that you should use a dribbble.com account, or a Behance account and post you work there.
This is a post for the beginner, the fresh meat, and the starry eyed out there who are getting their hands dirty with design as a self taught designer. *Fist Bump to You!* (I’m packaging up the resources that helped me get where I am towards the end)
Time is a commodity. It is both finite and infinite. We only have 24 hours to use and it does not replenish until the following day. We have to protect our use of that time just as much as we protect the use of our money. When we say yes and commit to things, we are spending some of the expectations held for that day.