Tagged: advice

Design Advice: Naming your Photoshop layers

For the love of God, PLEASE NAME YOUR LAYERS. There’s nothing worse than opening a Photoshop file with 50 layers that are named Layer 1, Layer 2, Layer 1 copy, Layer 4 copy, Layer 4 copy 2 (you get the idea). It makes it extremely difficult to work with later on; especially if that Photoshop file was created by someone else.

Name your layers in a short but descriptive manner. And don’t be afraid to group things into Layer folders. Photoshop even has a Note tool you can use (found under the Eyedropper tool). You’ll have a much easier time editing it later, and anyone else that has to work with the file will thank you.

Design advice: Know your target audience

Lost on most of the design talent coming out of portfolio school is the fact that all the talent in the world won’t make you successful unless you learn how to target your desired audience with your design and messaging. Design is about communicating the message in a way that your target finds it easy to read and desirable. Great design isn’t always successful, but success is always due in part to great design.

Here’s a case of great design that isn’t remotely successful. The email below is one I received from Network Solutions recently. It’s not that it looks bad, it’s not that the information in the email isn’t accurate or easy to read. The problem is that it’s certainly not targeted at someone like me. But it is rather insulting to me, and has absolutely no chance of getting results from me. Now I’ll grant you that the average consumer isn’t as knowledgable about this subject matter as I am, and it’s a mass-email sent to (presumably) hundreds of thousand of people. But they sent it to me, and it’s a great example.

Nice design

A nicely designed email advertisement? Only if I’m an Internet idiot.

As you can see above, the email’s primary message is that Network Solutions offers Cloud-based hosting. The main message is also the main problem. Can you tell me what hosting (from any Internet Hosting Provider) is NOT cloud-based? Of course not. All hosting is cloud-based, otherwise nobody but you could see it. Duh! Let’s move on to the next problem. Apparently they think I’m blind and wouldn’t notice the fact that the $5.99 per month is only for the first three months. No mention of what it is after, not even in the disclaimer. I could spend an hour listing the reliable hosting companies that offer cheaper prices than $5.99. Clearly they’re hoping I don’t do research before paying for a service. The fun doesn’t stop there… (more…)

How to apply for a creative position at an ad agency or design firm

I’ve been a part of the hiring process for positions in the creative department at several ad agencies and in-house design departments over the years. I’ve seen a lot of creative resumés and portfolio books, and even more that never made the cut – but it wasn’t because they lacked talent.

The vast majority of the applicants made grave mistakes when it comes to their potential of getting hired. The bulk of the mistakes are simple, and obvious when you think about it.

Successful job interview

Selling yourself correctly results in a winning resumé and portfolio

The Resumé

Because we’re talking about a creative position, your resumé has the luxury of being creative. Take advantage of it. The first thing I do to weed-out resumés is throw away every last one that contains an “objective” paragraph on it. It’s a waste of space. I Know what your objective is, it’s to get the job we’re offering – otherwise you wouldn’t be applying for it, right? Having an objective graph on your resumé tells me you aren’t very creative, and probably used a template.

The next thing I look at is the individual job titles you’ve listed, and the type of information you’ve provided under each one. I know what an art director does, I don’t need you to list 25 typical tasks that EVERY art director does. Instead, use that space to share some successes, or out-of-the-ordinary situation you were a part of. Also consider sharing awards you’ve won in that space. (more…)

“F#ck You. Pay Me.” – An education video for graphic designers

Mike Monteiro, Design Director, and co-founder of Mule Design Studio gave an awesome lecture titled “F#ck You. Pay Me.” to a bunch of web designers that covers legal contracts and the design business. This is a 30+ minute video that should be mandatory material at any design school.

Flexible paper and payment options can save a bundle on your next print job

Commercial printing is expensive, but there are ways you can save money with little effort if you’re willing to be flexible and spend some time before the bidding process with your printer. The key is communication. Your printer’s sales rep should be most helpful in finding ways to save money on your job. After all, if you’re happy with his or her service, you’re more likely to give him repeat business.

Saving money on your next print job

Your paper selection can make a huge difference in the cost of your print job

Here are a few tips to help you save a little money on your next print job:

When requesting a bid from your preferred printer, and paper stock isn’t set in stone, be sure to ask your sales rep if they have access to any discontinued paper from the manufacturer. Many times, limited quantities of discontinued paper is available at a heavy discount. It’s a great way to save money on your print job if you’re willing to be flexible.

Consider printing multiple jobs at the same time, on the same paper stock. Many times, paper is only available in large sheet sizes and your job doesn’t quite fill the sheet. You can add a smaller print piece on the same sheet and save money on the print run.

Ask if your printer offers a cash in advance or upon delivery discount. Printers have to pay for the paper and print your job on their dime, then wait for you to pay them. By offering to pay for paper and ink costs, or even the whole job in advance, you may find the printer willing to offer a bit of a discount.

You can save a hefty amount on your print job by specifying a Grade 2 sheet. Premium (Grade 1) paper costs substantially more, and often times is really no better than 2nd grade sheets. When in doubt, ask for a sample from your print sales rep.

Cool Web Site: Daily Design Advice

Daily Design AdviceDaily Design Advice (DDA) is a new service from Brandeluxe (the people who brought you Freelance Review) that delivers the web’s juiciest design advice and insights at the start of every working day (M-F).

Advice on the site is brief, bit-sized chunks that you can read in under a minute, which is one reason I like the site. Be sure to check it out, and subscribe to the RSS feed if you like it.

Design survival: Finding design inspiration outside the digital world

Mona LisaWith just a few years under your belt as a graphic designer, you’ve no doubt come across a time or two when you experienced a complete and total lack of creativity; a sort of designer’s block, if you will. If it hasn’t happened to you, you either haven’t pushed bounds of creativity yet, or you’ve been darn lucky. Either way, it WILL happen.

The best way to fight it is to seek-out and find creativity in places and things that you wouldn’t normally look for it. The key is getting your butt out from in front of the computer screen and into the real world. For some, it’s easy to do – for others, it’s not as simple. Where to go to look for inspiration? And where to find it once you get there?
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