Having apparently inherited a dominant organizational gene, I subconsciously approach everything in life - whether it’s cooking for a party of 12 or working on a design project - through the lens of planning and structure. As I write this, I am reminded of a friend who contacted me in a state of panic. She had hired a contractor to install 155 bundles of cedar shakes for her three story home and had only three weeks to stain them prior to his arrival. Without hesitation (actually with relish) I rolled up my sleeves and planned the entire process. With my planning and organizational skills along with the recruitment of several generous friends, we managed to complete the job well ahead of schedule. My friend commented that we were all committed individuals. I replied, "either that, or we all need to be committed!” It was, however, both rewarding and satisfying to help a friend and see her project through to completion. This is the seed of motivation for all my design projects - the satisfaction and reward of knowing that my efforts help to establish and grow a client's business.
Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills
Flexibility and a willingness to embrace evolving technology has served me well so far. It's not just hard skills, however, that keep a designer relevant and thriving in this field. Soft skills, like maintaining positive interpersonal relationships, are also important to a client or team to effectively leverage their ideas for a successful final product - ultimately helping them to achieve their business goals. Clear communication and support lay the foundation for a collaborative environment and are key components for a successful outcome.
Build a Strong Foundation
Planning the architecture in the beginning stages, whether it be for a website or an ad campaign, may take time, but smart up-front work pays for itself immeasurably in what it saves later for development, execution and maintenance of the end product. User research gathered only bolsters and enhances creativity. If the viewer cannot navigate through a site efficiently, or if the client’s message doesn't come across in an ad campaign, the designer hasn't done their job. Content and planning are paramount to a lasting platform. After all, if you lack a supporting wall, your structure will inevitably fail.
Spam, Velveeta and Naugahide Come from the Same Animal
Although this statement is tongue and cheek; the essential point here is to create a cohesive, final result. All elements should appear as if they originated from the same DNA - so to speak. Standardizing look and content will make the result recognizable across platforms. Though no two clients or projects are alike, recurring elements in my work are always clean, organized and necessary only to the architecture and its contents.
Intuitive, Informative and Impressive
Design media (print or web) should be intuitive, informative and make an impression that catches and holds the viewer’s attention. I am a whole-hearted subscriber to keeping it simple. Why use three paragraphs to convey what can be said in one sentence? A good idea is always strong enough to stand alone. Nuff said.