I took a trip to Virginia this week. Going up north of course I had a lot of time to reflect and here is a small list of tips and hints I came up with.
1. Don’t get stuck
| It’s super important to always stay a student, not just in formal classes but in all of life. Don’t get set on just one technology. More than ever before clients are looking for ways to add interactive web experiences to their projects. If all you know is PHP, then try learning: standards compliant HTML, jQuery, CSS, MySQL. Also learn WP or another content management system and find a shopping cart that you like and can feel comfortable skinning.
2. Keep your eyes open
| Inspiration is all around you. I’m always checking out road signs and billboards as I drive down the road and studying napkin logos and menus at restrants . You never know where a great idea will spring from.
The great outdoors is an amazing inspiration resource.
3. Learn from other people
| Study successful designers, artists, communicators and compare what they do verses what other designers do that are not successful. How do they present themselves? How do they reach their audience? Ask yourself does there message reinates with their respective audence? If so, why?
4. Work on your weaknesses
| Ask yourself where am I weakest? Am I a great designer that finds it hard to close leads because I can’t communicate well? If so rent or buy books or YouTube the subject of: communication, the art of speaking and writing. Am I great communicator that has problems delivering design solutions to fill my client’s needs? Do a search on the solutions you don’t feel confidant delivering and research to find the best technology and learn it inside out. What ever your gap is (and we all have them) work on it and keep pushing till that area is excellent.
5. Think for yourself
| There are times when imitation makes since like creating code from scratch on similar projects when you can just skin it differently. In design there are always going to be trends and many times clients aren’t always looking for great times design as much as they are looking to keep their look as current as their competitors.
However if all you do is imitate other designers trends you’ll very possibly end up lost in a sea of similar looking work and never acquire your own trademark design style.
6. Stay humble
| Nobody like a know it all and I know there are areas I need training and input from the design community. Get stuck up and you won’t be much fun to read or lookup to. Stay this way and soon your community will leave for higher pastures.
7. Brand thyself
| Make your company branding match. Make a nice looking Logo and website and create common size ads. For blogs 125 x 125 work well and also an old school signature ad will come in handy. Make sure all your marketing share a common message and color scheme \ style. If they don’t match people won’t recognize you and you’ll be waiting valuble time and money promoting yourself. I great way to grag some extra traffic is to submit your site to css galleries. Get a gravitar so people will recognize who you are when you comment on blogs and submit articles to blogs.
8. Go the extra mile
| I always do that little extra for my clients. The finishing touches are not always fun but they will set you apart. Many projects I’ve designed and they served the purpose and the customer was satisfied but I said that’s not up to my standards. For example rounded corners take extra time but if it’s what the project calls some an extra half hour and polish it till it shines.
9. Just do it
| Nike said it right when they made their slogan. Conversing, and drafting up a business model and design templates is great and a very necessary part of any successful design company but at some point you gotta put the pedal to the metal and make something. There are days I don’t feel creative but I have to just press through and finish something that needs to get done. It’s not easy sometimes, but then later when I’m in the grove I can clean up the rough edges.
10. Winning Attitude
| I’ve talked a lot about practical tips and how to’s, but what really sets successful designers apart is their attitude and that inner will to win. When I think of a competitive attitude I think of sports stars like Michel Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Lance Armstrong. We as designers need to not have the attitude that we can just sit and wait for jobs to come to us. Imagine a basketball player that just waited for the ball to come to him or her. That player would never get the MVP award even if that player was very skilled. As designers some of us are our own bosses and developing self control can benefit us massively. By that I mean, being able to provoke yourself to action for the purpose of self development. Everybody’s saying this and it couldn’t be more true; you get out what you put in.