How can we take our designs from good to great? I don’t have the perfect answer for you, but I do know that after working in this field for a number of years I have found a few tips and tricks that have helped me start to love my designs instead of just liking them. Here are a few of my tried and trues that I hope can help you along your way:
1. Brainstorm - A lot. And then do it again.
I learned how to do everything on Paper before I had anything cool like a tablet or iPad pro. Like legitimately old school, writing things, taking pictures then cleaning them up in photoshop and then illustrator. Though newer technology has BLOWN my mind, paper is still my main form. When I want to get my ideas out I turn to good old fashioned pen and paper. Having a favorite pencil/notebook is also a real thing. It helps!
A few things to remember: Learn your craft from the basics, be creative with your ideas, don’t be afraid to push them further. There is no such thing as a bad idea. Get them all out and stretch those creative muscles (way past exhaustion). You will never regret fleshing out your ideas more.
2. Revisions, revisions, revisions!!
I tend to be bad at this one. I always think I have my best idea within the first three sketches, and my husband (also a graphic designer) will say - “These are great but you need to make more!” I get so frustrated. The most frustrating part, of course, is that he is always right! I DO need more edits, more ideas, more color ways, and more sketches! So here I am telling you - YOU NEED MORE! (Sorry to be that person in your life.) I also find I have more combinations, styles, and textures when I do this, and my clients are generally much happier with the options. Don’t give in to being fast and dirty, your best idea is yet to come.
Also - know when to stop. Hahah, but really - good luck with that. When I am having a hard time stopping that’s usually when I reach out to others. Feedback is so helpful! I usually turn to both fellow designers, non-designer friends that can offer an unbiased view, and someone from the target audience. I then narrow it down to a few ideas for the client.
4. Lock it in tight.
What do you do when you have your idea, your design is just about ready to finish/post/send to the client? This is where you turn the final product from good to great. You go through all the steps of making sure it is as perfect as you can get it. Here is my checklist:
- Line widths - Are they all consistent?
- Colors - Are they the exact right color? Do they all match? Do I need to make the black “True Black” and the white “Transparent”, etc?
- Alignment - This is HUGE. Make sure your work is all aligned correctly (or incorrectly if that is the objective) but make sure you center and recenter to make sure it fits exactly where it needs to. It will never look right if you skip this step.
- Clean files - make sure you save out each individual element in a clearly labeled file with the right format. I cannot tell you how many times I have lost work to the black hole that is my hard drive just because I haven’t saved things correctly.
Finally, be confident. If you have done everything you can to create an excellent product - this is when you take a step back and say - This is it. I did it.
Also, pro tip: I promise it looks so much better than you think it is.
Details in design are a quick way to take your designs to the next level, and the beauty of it is, there is always room for improvement. You can always work on any step of your process and get that much better at it. So no matter where you are in your design career - Just starting or professional billionaire - it would be so beautiful if we all decided to take a closer look at the process of design and learned to love, practice, and find joy in the details.