How Often Should You Redesign Your Business Cards?

This is a question I ask myself every so often. I’m a big advocate of young talented people establishing their identity with business cards. I’ve had them since I was about 13, and I’m 17 now. In four years, I’ve gone through four redesigns. For me, I make an update when the crucial information changes (portfolio, etc).

For some, information might not change very often. I think it’s best to make changes on these factors: outdated designs, outdated information and new logos.

In order to fully express my creativity, I make sure each design is totally different than the next.

So, how often should you change your business cards? Think about the nature of your business, the people receiving these cards and the image you wish to portray. Does your information change frequently? Do your current cards give off the reflection you want it to?

This picture shows the first business cards I ever designed! Share yours!

 

Need new business cards? Check out BusinessCards.org templates!

6 years ago

Ageism in the Design World

This is a guest post written by Nicole Foster. Nicole Foster is a professional website designer who loves to help businesses and other designers succeed. She offers various custom design services for all types of businesses. Follow her on Twitter or Like her onFacebook.

Being a teenager in the design world is tough. You’re an outcast, a minority, but also somebody very unique. However, some people believe teenagers can’t compare to their older, more “experienced” designer counterparts. This is a form of Ageism, which is defined as “stereotyping of and discrimination against individuals or groups because of their age” (Wikipedia). This mentality is common across all generations, and is a problem because it discourages teenagers from being passionate about design. It makes them question their abilities and feel less talented than an older designer.

Don’t let this discourage you from enjoying the world of design though. Being a designer at a young age allows you to learn more and start your future career earlier. Personally, I started designing websites 6 years ago when I was 12 years old, and I was able to absorb more information on design and programming than people older than me. Nonetheless, I experienced ageism several times since I started my freelance business in 2008, but using these tips, I was able to combat it and prove myself as a competent designer despite my age. Implement these basic tips and you will begin getting the respect you deserve.

Create a Professional Online Image

As a designer, it’s important to have an online presence. You can reach out to other designers, potential employers or potential clients through social media websites like Twitter and Facebook. However, younger people often use them for their personal lives and do not consider how this could affect their image. Separate your personal life from your professional life with these tips:

Dress Professionally

When it comes to impressing people, your appearance is the first thing somebody will look at. If you’re looking to impress people and have them take you seriously as a designer, then you need to dress like you want the job, the client, or the respect.

For Girls – When I was 16, I invested in a suit jacket and it was the best investment for my business. I was able to snag one at a Calvin and Klein’s outlet mall for only $60, so I would suggest searching through department stores and outlet malls for great deals on suit jackets. Underneath the suit jacket, find a simple, one color tank top in any color you like. I usually wear blue to convey professionalism or pink to appeal to my female clients. Lastly, black dress pants and small heals will create the perfect professional look to impress employers, clients and other designers.

For Boys – If you have the money, a full suit and tie combination will do wonders, but cheaper alternatives will be just as effective. An alternative to a full suit is to get a button-up shirt with a complimentary tie. Any color can work for boys, but be aware of the psychology behind the color you choose. Also, buy matching dress pants and comfortable work shoes to complete the look. You can find this all at your nearest department store for affordable prices. As long as you have a complete look, you will be able to gain the respect you deserve.

How to Present Yourself – Now that you have the right outfit, you will need to learn how to present yourself properly to other designers or employers in person. The number one rule is to always shake the hand of the person(s) you are meeting. Never shake too hard or too fast, but a handshake conveys your maturity and will gain you respect immediately. During the meeting or chat, always listen and smile. As long as you create a productive conversation and keep things friendly, the other person will be impressed with your professionalism and they will forget the stereotypes of teenagers.

Have Business Cards

Lastly, and most importantly, have a set of business cards and always carry them with you. You never know when a friend, family member or potential employer could be interested in your design skills, and a business card with your contact information will be the perfect gateway to respect.

Have a Unique, Personalized Design – Every designer has a different style and that should be reflected on your business card. Generally, the business card will reflect the style of your website, but if you do not have one, then base it off a style that describes your personality. Simplicity is the key for effective business cards because it will save you on printing costs, but don’t be afraid to get creative, and stand out. If you have a nice set of business cards you can pass around, it will add to your professional look.

Include the Right Contact Information – Always make sure to include several different ways for people to contact you on your business card. On my business card, I include my website, my phone number, and email address. This allows for potential clients to call, email or learn more about my services on my website. At the least, I would suggest your website link and email if you are not comfortable with giving away your phone number. The more contact options you have, the more likely the person will get a hold of you.

Hand Them Out – Just hand them out to friends, family, teachers, etc. and encourage them to recommend you to people they know. Get them in front of as many people as possible by putting them up on community bulletin boards, business fronts and other places you can think of. The more seen your business cards are, the better your image as a designer will be.

Have any tips of your own?

I recognize there are many other things you can do to be respect in the design world despite your age, but these are basic tips that will benefit you in the long run. In the comment section below, share what you did to defeat ageism and gain the respect you deserve. Also, post any questions you have about this topic; I am very willing to answer any questions and give tips that have personally worked for me.

6 years ago

5 Reasons Websites Should Borrow a Page from Print Designers

This is a guest post by Mike Barbre. Mike Barbre is a social media professional and technology enthusiast. When he’s not using Intermedia’s Hosted Exchange, he can be found following Intermedia on Twitter and as a fan of Intermedia on Facebook.

Print is so last century, Right? Not always the case. There are reasons why print magazines and newspapers continue to sell. Some of them might be personal inertia and the slow penetration of electronic publication.


Photo Credit

However, a glossy print magazine still has a strong appeal. How can a website designer take the good parts of print and use them to make an even better site? Here are a few tips:

1. Browsing is often easier in print. Pick up a magazine. It has a table of contents in the front and all you have to do is flick to the right page. It’s often a temptation to make your index page complicated with nested drop downs, but consider taking a leaf from the print book and going with a table of contacts with each header linked. More and more, users want everything simple and uncluttered.

2. Imagery. Most web sites have standard clip art, which is readily recognizable…from three sites ago. Paying the extra money to get custom graphics for your site, just like print magazines, will make your site stand out from the crowd. What makes you pick up that particular magazine? The glossy, original cover image. Even taking your own camera out and collecting a few suitable pictures is better than going to the clip art library.

3. Fonts and text. Not that long ago it was Helvetica everywhere. You used to have to be sure your site could run on any computer, and that meant the lowest common denominator. These days, that limitation is all but gone and the imagination can run wild. The best print magazines use a distinctive, yet readable font, one that makes you know immediately you have an issue of National Geographic or People in front of you.

4. Advertising. Look at a print magazine, and you will see careful thought put into every ad. Right columns are a different size from left columns. On the web, there is a tendency to plug in an algorithm and use a standard size. If your ads change often, then this is a good idea. However, if you sell your own advertising and can spend a bit of extra time making sure that the adverts smoothly fit in with the page and truly match the content, then your customers will be far less likely to reach for that ad blocker.

5. The rhythm of the book. When you read a magazine or a periodical, there is a flow to it, one that comes from the careful selection of articles in a specific order. Because on the web people go to ‘whatever interests them’, designers seldom try to seek a coherent rhythm to a site. But rhythm is what makes you turn the next page. A careful use of font size and color can keep your readers going from one article to the next, leading them along a good ‘route’ through the site.

There are many other ways in which applying print techniques to the web can make your site more appealing and keep visitors there longer. This trend is likely not a fad or a flash in the pan, but a long-term evolution of web design as technology improves and as tablet devices become a more common way to browse the web.

 

6 years ago

10 New Trend Illustrations in Web Design

Design has always been an integral part of successful websites. Craft a look that communicates your company to your customers and your success increases.

Illustrations have the power of boosting a website’s design. These Web illustrations are most successful when they match current trends. By utilizing current trend illustrations in your Web design, you will show that your company is forward thinking and current.

Here are 10 new trend illustrations in Web design that your company can incorporate into your current design.

Animals

animals-in-web-design
Whether realistic or whimsical in design, humans are attracted to animals. Many animals have characteristics and traits that humans readily identify. By matching an animal with your company, you’re able to communicate a strong message about your company’s values and traits.

Bright Color

bright-colors-in-web-design

These days, Web illustrators are incorporating bright, bold colors in their designs. Before choosing your colors, take a couple of minutes to research the psychology behind colors and choose those that best match the message that you’re trying to convey.

Characters

characters-in-web-design

Companies have been creating characters to help depict their organization and draw customers in. These characters often can be incorporated into long term branding of the company so clients have a strong emotional connection to that brand every time the character appears in marketing materials.

Clouds

clouds-in-web-design

Possibly due to the popularity of Twitter, clouds are starting to sprout up in Web designs. Clouds communicate brightness, airiness and simplicity.

Focus on Footers

footers-in-web-design

Footers contain quite a bit of company information. It’s an important element of your website, so why not incorporate some design elements? Companies are utilizing the space to add illustrations that communicate their brand to website visitors. The footer is often the last element that a person will see, so why not leave them with a lasting impression?

Humor

humor-in-web-design

Everyone loves a good laugh. Utilizing humor in your Web design will help make your site memorable. It will also help increase your traffic because customers will share the site with others to see how it tickles their funny bones.

Landscapes

landscapes-in-web-design

Landscapes are natural elements that add color and beauty to a website. In a medium where grey, black and white often take center stage, it’s refreshing to have colorful, organic elements brightening up the designs.

Larger Logos

big-logos-in-web-design

Splash pages have been on the decline in recent years. But companies can continue to have that large graphic impact by increasing the size of their logos. By adding in graphic and illustration elements to the logos, they can transition into art instead of a stale logo. The larger logo will also help communicate more about the overall brand

Simplicity

simplicity-in-web-design

It’s time to clear out the clutter. It’s hard to process all of the information on the Web when websites are jam-packed with various design elements. White space helps consumers breath and take in the information that you are displaying for them to see.

White

white-in-web-design

Web illustrators have been utilizing white to brighten up other colors and de-clutter their designs. This trend is best achieved by finding creative and unique ways to utilize white, such as through the cloud trend.

Daniela blogs for CreditDonkey, a free tool that allows you to easily compare credit card offers. She’s also looking for suggestions on how to redesign CreditDonkey – email her at daniela.baker@creditdonkey.com

6 years ago

Does Your Design Company Communicate with You?

When you hire a graphic design company, there are a lot of different things you need to consider. Things like their experience, their level of skill, and their fees are just a few of the considerations that will influence your decision. But one of the most important factors that you should look at when comparing web design companies is something that most clients don’t think twice about: their ability to communicate.

See, the marketing process is an ongoing, complex process. There’s a very important need for consistent communication between the marketing company and the client. If that communication isn’t there, then you’re going to have a serious problem. Without proper communication, your logo design and marketing firm could end up creating a campaign that doesn’t mesh with your vision or help you meet your business objectives.

So, what are some of the ways the best marketing agencies communicate with their clients?

Well, it all starts at the beginning. From the initial consultation, your marketing firm should get the conversation going. They should be committed to learning everything they can about you the client. They should perform an in-depth opening interview to gather as many details as possible about your company, your competitors, your goals, your target audience, your unique selling points, and so on. If your marketing agency doesn’t do this from the start, that’s a pretty big warning sign that you’ve chosen the wrong firm to handle your brand.

After the initial interview, your marketing company should continue to keep the lines of communication open with you, because the next step is the development of your campaign. Depending upon the scope of your project, this could mean the design of a range of marketing collateral (website, brochures, print ads, etc.), the development of your messaging (copywriting), and general strategizing.

Obviously, it’s important that you play a role in this. After all, it is your company, so you should be involved in developing your marketing strategy so that you can be sure it’s in line with your vision and your objectives.

But that’s not all. As your marketing campaign gets implemented, you should still be communicating with your marketing agency. They should be keeping you updated on the current status of your campaign, and they should be measuring results to let you know how it’s performing. This could mean that you have weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly meetings with your marketing agency to keep you apprised of all the latest happenings surrounding your brand’s development.

In short, communication is an essential part of the marketing and design process. The best marketing agencies know how to communicate effectively with their clients, helping to ensure your voice is always heard and you continue to remain satisfied.

Photos by: arinas74 and OmirOnia

6 years ago

Honeysuckle, the 2010 Color of the Year!

It’s bright. It’s intense. It’s the new ‘it’ color. Pantone just named Honeysuckle the 2010 Color of The Year, and it is beautiful. It was chosen to lift spirits and inspire others in this time of struggle throughout the world. Its refreshing and uplifting, while giving you just the right ‘feel’.

From the Official Post:

In times of stress, we need something to lift our spirits. Honeysuckle is a captivating, stimulating color that gets the adrenaline going – perfect to ward off the blues,” explains Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “Honeysuckle derives its positive qualities from a powerful bond to its mother color red, the most physical, viscerally alive hue in the spectrum.

Check out Honeysuckle in the wild!

So, what are your thoughts on the color of the year? Love it? Hate it?

6 years ago

How to Manage a Huge Project: 3 Easy Steps

mmm... whiteboard fumes...

Source: flickr

I’ve just recently been saddled with a big design project, and truthfully its been getting to me.  So to help myself compartmentalize and begin tackling this huge project, I used a simple method of dividing things up.

Its called a roadmap (yes I’m quite original) and its easy to make.

So when building a roadmap, you first need to define what your big goal is.  For me, that simply means getting this huge design piece done.  So I’m marking down at the top:

Goal: Complete Design Piece

Then I divide that goal into the steps I know I need to complete in order to achieve my goal.  I call these steps Checkpoints, as their purpose is to make your goal into a easy to read checklist.   So now my list looks a bit like this:

Goal: Complete Design Piece

Rough Sketch –> Final Sketch –> Finished Design

From that point on I divide my Checkpoints down into multiple tasks, and suddenly things finally become doable for me.  So for the Rough Sketch Checkpoint, the tasks would most likely consist of:

1) Brainstorm multiple ideas, settle on final idea
3) Sketch out elements and make a composition sketch
3) Revise composition, start sketching rough draft
4) Complete rough draft, revise if necessary

Once I’m able to get to that level, things become as simple as going down the list one item at a time. It may seem a bit OCD, but it works for me, and thats the important part, is finding a system that fits your needs.

So try it out, modify it, and see what works for you!

7 years ago

9 Best Tools for Graphic Designers


Source: JanneM

As a graphic designer you probably already know about the basic tools you need like a computer, Photoshop and a tablet, especially if you have been in the business for a while. However, even the most experienced designers keep a lookout for tools that they can use to make their work easier, faster, and better. From project management tools to business accounting to invoicing to hardware and software add-ons, here are the 9 best tools for graphic designers that can make life easier for experienced professionals.

1. Premium Membership subscription to Tuts+ ($78 for a year): Tuts+, known for its powerful graphics tutorials, offers a premium site that gives you the original source files that match their public tutorials, exclusive members-only tutorials, custom Photoshop brushes, and access to the entire family of premium Tuts+ Web sites. For $9 per month, $22 for 3 months, or $78 per year, you get tutorials and other resources available that will contribute to your skills and to your bottom line.

2. How To Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul (From $11): Now that you have been in the business for a while, you know how demanding the business end of things can get. This helpful guide will breathe new life into your withering soul and help you develop your business skills to match the creative skills you have developed.

3. Other professional designers: You cannot put a price tag on the value of some professional criticism and advice. When you first got started, you may have regarded others in the business as competitors. Now that you have experience, you can open up to others. Let them critique your work and provide guidance as you work to bring your business to a higher level.

4. Woodgrain Portfolio ($179): This handsome portfolio is itself a work of art. Made from aluminum, it sports a cherry wood grain finish. This unit comes with ten pages held by a binding with screw in posts. The time is now to start showing off your work in an attention grabbing portfolio.

5. Making and Breaking the Grid: A Graphic Design Layout Workshop: ($16.50) This great book by Timothy Samara will take your graphic design skills to new heights as it teaches you advanced techniques using grid design. This book details all the rules for managing elements and helps the reader discern when those rules can be broken.

6. Print Magazine: ($40 for one year) Stay in touch with the latest trends and ideas in the industry. This is a powerful tool that will play an instrumental role in continued skill development.

7. The OneLess Desk: ($699) (http://bit.ly/ddtcIf). Because the surface area of this stylish desk is minimal, it makes the most out of close quarters. It also helps graphic designers solve the clutter problem: because of its small footprint, you will find that less clutter accumulates, meaning fewer distractions while you work.

8. TSOVET Limited Edition AT76 Watch ($1,250): A unique designer must create a unique persona that includes everything creative. While building your distinctive look, do not forget a stylish watch like this one. The AT76 has the look and feel of precision machinery and creatively incorporates the look of vintage avionics. TSOVET has a variety of looks that will all serve the designer well, so do not hesitate to pick out the one you like best.

9. MacBook Pro memory upgrade ($50): After running your own graphic design business, you know how quickly you use up the system resources on your MacBook Pro. More memory means that you can run more programs and they will run faster making it an essential tool for continued business development.

These 9 tools for graphic designers can all contribute in some way to your continued development as an artist and as a business person. Give these tools a try and watch your career move forward faster and better than you ever dreamed.

From the Editor: I seriously recommend the book, How To Be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul for any designer looking to get serious. Great book!

7 years ago