Tagged: advice

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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12 times when you should say no to a client and run for the door!

Yesterday’s video post titled When is it time to dump a client brought some thoughts from (TGM reader) RhymingDesigner on when to just say no to a client. Saying no to a potential client is difficult to do, especially when you’re first starting out, or the economy has brought the stream of new business to a halt. But saying no can actually improve your situation in some cases, by freeing up time, creativity and not putting yourself in a difficult situation later. Here is his list of 12 times you should say no to a client:

  1. They expect you to drop what you’re doing and meet with them today
  2. They ask for a discount right away
  3. They balk at paying a deposit to get the work started
  4. They balk at signing a contract
  5. They want to change several terms of your tried-and-true contract
  6. They can’t give you a clear idea of what they want (“Just start!”)
  7. They want to pay next to nothing, with the promise of some big jobs in the future (the oldest trick in the book?)
  8. There is no point person (so they will be reviewing the work by committee)
  9. They have no offices or at least appearance of stability
  10. They have a track record of going through designers like crazy (and the old designers were always at fault)
  11. There doesn’t seem to be much respect for your expertise
  12. Your gut reaction is that something’s just not right (trust your instinct and bolt for the door)

In my experience, #6 is the most deadly. You accept a job and everything appears on the up-and-up. The client is looking for something completely fresh, so has no restrictions or thoughts on what the piece of work should look like. You end up spending countless hours coming up with multiple concepts only to find out that they had something very specific in mind, and quite frankly, it sucks!

Don’t design a dead-end Web site – it’s all about the content

When I look at a lot of Web sites these days, two things jumps out at me. First, many sites look absolutely stunning. Beautiful mastheads, delicious AJAX everywhere, blinky, swooshing Flash and Web 2.0-style graphics adorn tons of Web sites. Competing with these gorgeous Web sites requires not only great graphic design skills, but you’ve got to be a coding genius as well. The second thing that I notice right away is that many of these sites contain little if any useful, informative content. Opinion blogs are everywhere, virtually anyone who can type has a blog, but finding great content is just getting harder and harder. It almost appears that many of these sites’ purpose is simply to show off the fact that they know how to code. Now I’m not trying to stand on my high-horse and look down on anyone’s efforts… (more…)