Recently, a good friend of mine sent me an email asking for design advice. I was flattered that he reached out to me and then briefly thought about how to respond given the vastness of his inquiry. Before I knew it I had written a lengthy email filled with important nuggets from my personal design philosophy, useful links and an invitation to bounce ideas off of me at any time.
Tonight it occurred to me that along the way I have saved up quite a few pieces of advice for designers just starting out, with a few years of experience, or looking to push past a development plateau. Obviously, I linked him to Good F-cking Design Advice, obviously. Some of the suggestions below were in my email, some came to me after I had hit send. Here they are:
1. Have a concept before you start pushing pixels, you’ll work 3-times more quickly. This took me years to start doing regularly, and now it’s my process. I’m a pen and paper guy, that helps me get my plan together and allows for freedom of exploration. Not only sketching for layouts and logo comps, but creating timelines and mind maps for mini-documentaries.
2. Listen to feedback, consider it, then very possibly disregard it to follow your instinct. You have to trust your decisions. This is especially important for editors of any kind. Decisiveness isn’t natural for some, so hone it.
3. Your first idea isn’t always your best. Scrap or set aside your first draft and push through to find the possibly better 2nd or 3rd idea. Time will be the enemy of this pursuit. Stay up later.
4. Clearly communicating is your #1 goal, everything else is secondary to that. Keep it simple. Your job is done when there is nothing left to subtract.