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Although I write and I own this blog, am a web/graphic designer by profession. Four years ago I joined a community of online designs called 99designs.com. There, you can design anything you want ranging from webpages to logos and book covers. You can either put it up for sale or enter it in a competition or just showcase it.

I came across a lot of designs on that site. Some were simple and sweet, intricate yet beautiful, the rest were just plain average; not bad and yet not memorable. My low self-esteem kicked in. I had a lot of hopes joining that community to show case my designs but I didn’t want my work to be just average. Which client would want something average when there were so many memorable designs to choose from? I wasn’t really skilled then to do complex designs and I just didn’t want to enter something very simple.

Over the years, I’ve become more skilled and learned in the art of designing and I no longer focus on 99designs.com again since I have other ‘hardcopy’ clients to deal with, I’ve really thought about designing is all about and what makes a design beautiful and attractive.

Sometimes, designers fret about having a perfect design. They worry about the colors, the shape, the position, the font and the general feel of the design. Some customers don’t really want something big or very beautiful, they just want a brand design or trademark they can call theirs. Let’s see, what’s so special about the Facebook logo, or twitter. Any newbie can get a box, change its color to blue, remove the border-lines and insert a small-letter f colored white. But it’s Facebook’s and anywhere you see that logo you’ll know it belongs to Facebook.

Am not saying designers are not to think carefully about their designs. In fact they should. Every design is an advertisement. If it’s good enough it automatically recommends the designer. But there are some things I’ve learnt to do while designing websites and I thought I should share. It could help any other designer.

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  1. Look at the client’s budget. It determines if the design should be simple or if it should be complex.
  2. What do the client do? What do they represent? That also determines what the design should represent. Is it a children’s book/site. Then you know you’ll keep it bright and simple. Is it for a professional organization? Is it for the elderly? Is it personal? Etc. as long as the designer knows what the client represent, he/she can eradicate some other styles of designs that would be unnecessary to their needs.
  3. When is the deadline? There is no need designing something complex if you’re working with a short time frame. Even if the designer wants to explore his creative side, the client comes first.
  4. Listen to the clients properly. Does this person have a particular design in mind and wants you to strictly abide by that style? Or is he/she allowing you to explore your creative side? Why get into a fight with the client just because you think something is better one way and he/she wants it another way?
  5. Allow for alterations. Nothing is perfect the first time. Every design out there was thought of, designed, altered, refined and all that. Sometimes a particular style is not achievable either from the working environment (mostly software) or from the limitations of the designer. Other times, a designer might have something in mind only to realize a slight alteration to that style is better. It is better to just flow with you have. Don’t be too frigid in your designs. You’ll only end up frustrated.

Although these tips are good when working with clients, I’ll always advise designers to work with their own imaginations and creativity. Most clients would allow you do that anyway. Most times what I do is; in my spare time I make lots of creative designs that are not necessarily for any particular client. Or, if I think I can re-design/alter a particular work I’ve done to make it better or different, I work on it. That way if I have a client whose needs meet a design I’ve done before, I just go with it. And since I’ve taken my sweet time coupled with my over active imaginations to do those designs, the clients love them.

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