Tagged: design

Inspiring Web site header graphics

Toxel has listed 24 beautiful and creative Web site headers for your inspiration. Some of them are simply stunning. By the way, if you haven’t bookmarked Toxel in your RSS reader & Web browser, you should. They often list truly inspiring articles and imagery.

10 tips to avoid designer’s block

Ever have a day where it feels like nothing is working, you’ve lost all your talent and you’ll never make another good design for the rest of your miserable life? Don’t panic – this is natural. So, the question is; how do I avoid designer’s block? GoMediazine has 10 great suggestions to help you get over the hump.

20 creative movie posters designs

CoffeeandCelluloid takes a look at 20 amazing movies posters in the last year or so. What I love about this visual list is the diverse styles used in poster designs. Because movie posters have to appeal to a wide audience, many times they tend to be somewhat, well, boring and predictable. These 20 posters toss aside the norm, and dare to be different. Special thanks to long-time reader, Robert, for sending me the link!

Finding the perfect color combo

Looking for color combinations for your next Web project? There are plenty of these Web-based color combo sites out there, with my personal favorite being Adobe’s Kuler. Kuler is great in that it allows you to work with CMYK values, and upon completion, download an Adobe Swatch Exchange document you can import into all your Adobe Creative Suite applications. All the Creative Suite 4 applications have integrated Kuler into the program, so this option will most likely be the default for designers using Adobe products. Perhaps the king of color combo sites is Colourlovers, where there are countless color palettes already built, or you can create your own. You can also click a link next to each color to find photos using that color from iStockphoto. ColorBlender is a fairly straight-forward color combo site which allows you to create and share color palettes, and download files containing your colors for use with other design applications. A unique feature to ColorBlender (though I couldn’t get it to work) is the ability to match the color you create on screen to the closest Pantone color match. ColorCombos has yet another Web-based color combo exploration tool. Simply add a Hex color value into an input box and select the complimentary colors option. Simple! Virtually all color combo sites allow you to create and share your custom color palettes, so whichever one you choose, you probably can’t go wrong.

12 realities of pricing design services

I’ve posted articles in the past that point freelancers in the right direction on how much to charge for design services. Today, I have yet another helpful link to help you along the way. For most designers pricing services is not something that is the highlight of the job. Still, it is something that you’ll have to deal with if you’re freelancing or working for a small firm. Vandaley Design lists 12 realities of pricing design services:

  1. There’s no exact formula.
  2. Both hourly pricing and project-based pricing have pros and cons.
  3. Pricing is a necessary part of freelancing.
  4. Mistakes are a part of the process.
  5. Your prices will affect your own outlook on your services and it will also impact your client’s opinion of your services.
  6. Uncertainty is Common.
  7. The variety of prices is as wide as the variety of talent levels.
  8. Losing a job isn’t always a bad thing.
  9. Pricing can be a good way to weed out the tire kickers.
  10. Some potential clients will think your prices are high no matter what you charge.
  11. Charging more than you quoted may be necessary.
  12. Starting out you’ll probably have to charge less than you’d like.

The articles goes in-depth on each topic, and is well worth the read. If you’re in the process of deciding how much to charge, you definitely want to check this article out.

673 helpful links for Web designers

ForWebDesigners is a collection of nearly 700 resources for Web designers and bloggers. Links are divided up among 18 different categories to make what you’re looking for easy to find. Some of the topics include:

  • Ajax
  • Blogs
  • CMS
  • Fonts
  • Flash
  • Generators
  • Templates
  • CSS
  • Tutorials
  • Stock Photos
  • OS CMS

I really like this site because it’s well organized, and the quality of site links provided is pretty darn good. The site also offers user ratings to help you decide which ones are worth visiting.

How much to charge for design work

The never-ending, no right-or-wrong answer, how do I figure this out question that every new freelancer has. Design: Talkboard has an article that covers some of the things you should consider when trying to come up with your hourly rate. In addition, you may wish to take a look at some links I wrote about in the past that may help you figure out your hourly design rates. You can read them here, and here.

9 rules to creating a logo you can live with and still get paid

Logo design is one of the most difficult aspects of design. It’s one of those things you have a hard time separating personal taste from good communication and branding. Here are a few rules I have come up with for myself over the years when I work on a new logo.

Do NOT show a client any logo design that you don’t really love.

This is the most important rule. Many years ago I had this stupid idea that I would “show the cool logo” along with “two crappy logos to make the one I like look even better.” The problem is, the client almost always chooses one of the crappy logos and then I’m stuck using it. Never ever, ever, EVER show a client a logo you don’t love!

Show the logos in black & white ONLY.

I explain that we will work on colors only AFTER the final design is approved. The reason is simple, you don’t want to give them yet one more thing to focus on. The client WILL spend a ridiculous amount of time just thinking about the color scheme instead of what they should be thinking about, which is how well the logo conveys their brand/image. Also, with little exception, 60-80% of the clients work will probably be in black & white or one color, so it needs to look good in black & white. And when I say black & white, I mean BLACK and WHITE, no gradients or tints.

I ALWAYS design my logos in Adobe Illustrator.

Any logo, even one for a Web site, needs to be scaled for different use. Designing a logo in Photoshop leaves you with a ceiling you may not be able to live with later on. Designing your logo in Illustrator also allows you to “break it apart” and use the pieces in other aspects of the client’s work. It gives you flexibility in how it’s used (outdoor, ads, multi-media, etc.) and keeps it easy to edit later.

Go straight to the top.

Never accept a logo design job where a committee of 10 people must approve the design. You’ll end up taking a great logo and turning it into a giant puddle of monkey piss in a matter of hours trying to please 10 people. Find out who the decision maker is and work ONLY with them. If there is no single decision maker, then don’t accept the job! You’ll thank yourself for it later!

Make sure the logo works at ridiculously small sizes.

This goes along with the black & white rule. Clients will use that logo on all sorts of things, including imprinting it on a pen. The logo must work at a small size! You might also consider how it will work in a tall skinny ad, a square ad and a wide ad layout. Is it easy to fit into the “flow?”

Avoid using filters, effects and other gimmicks.

A logo is a big investment for a company. Creating a trendy/gimmicky logo will result in it looking outdated and cheap next year.

Create simple artwork.

Don’t get too complex with the design or the way you build it. Don’t use more than two fonts and one single graphic image. A logo that is too complex serves to do nothing but dilute the brand and look horrible at small sizes.

Create offspring.

OK, not THAT way! Once you have a design you like, check to see if there’s a way to use only part of the logo. The Coca-Cola logo is a perfect example. You can use the scripted type, but you can also just use the ribbon design and people still know it’s Coca-Cola, even though it doesn’t say it. Apple Computer is another great example. Apple stopped putting the word “Apple” with the logo years ago, yet you still know it’s Apple. You might also want to create a horizontal and vertical version of the logo to give you and your client a little more flexibility.

My final bit of advice is to think ahead.

Don’t design a logo that looks cool on a blank piece of paper. Your client most likely will want to use it in ads, in TV commercials, on banners, billboards and even on a truck. Design a logo that “works” with a lot of different end-uses. Make sure the logo is balanced. Does it work well at the bottom of an ad, regardless of whether it’s in the lower left, centered or lower right? Does it look good with a Web address centered below it? Does it work on a dark background? Will it look good on a coffee mug? Of course rules are made to be broken. You’re the designer, you make the rules. But you have to assume the worst, look at all possibilities and put yourself in the mindset of the client. While you may not end up with an award-winning logo every time, you will have a happy client and, hopefully, a very nice logo.

Why logo design doesn’t cost $5.00

“A designer should not have to invest time and resources with no guarantee of payment…”

Jacob over at Just Creative Design has an opinion piece in which he discusses his thoughts on Spec work, design contests and more. While logo design contests that pay $35 to $200 are somewhat demoralizing, and ultimately produce mediocre work, I don’t entirely agree that they’re bad and should be avoided at all costs. The fact is that your work is only worth as much as someone is willing to pay for it. In today’s economy, companies don’t place a great value on great design. This is a poor business decision, but out of our control. If you need the money, and you can bang-out some quick (and I do mean QUICK) logo designs, why not make $200 for your two hours of work? The key to dealing with design contests such as 99designs and other sites offering these contests is to accept that the clients they bring to the table are not “prime” clients. They’re “filler.” Don’t spend a lot of time and effort on them because no matter how many you win, you aren’t going to make a living, and ultimately you aren’t going to produce your best work. I’m not advocating these design contests, I just don’t believe they’re all the evil that some designers believe. They can even serve to stimulate your creativity, or at the very least provide you with some work for your portfolio.