Tagged: design

The iMac 27″ for graphic designers: part 1

After six years of using the original Mac Pro as my main workhorse, I finally took the plunge this past Christmas and upgraded to Apple’s latest 27” iMac. It’s the first Mac I’ve owned since the Quadra 650 back in the mid 90s that wasn’t a tower model. It was a scary decision for me, but one I’ve been delighted with so far.

iMac for designers

The first thing I had to come to grips with is the revelation that I don’t NEED all the expansion that the Mac Pro has to offer. In the distant past, the days when a 16GB stick of RAM took you a year or so to save-up for, the Mac tower models were the only way to go for pro designers. The desktop models simply weren’t made for people like us.

But times have changed. With NO exception, every Mac model available today can easily be used by the most demanding print and web designers—this includes the MacBook Air and the MacMini. If you think you NEED more, you’re most likely overestimating your needs. Today’s Macs are powerful enough for working with Gigabyte sized files with as little as 8GB of RAM.

Now I didn’t say that every Mac model is a perfect fit, far from it. And that’s where my decision got difficult. (more…)

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.

The Graphic Mac’s new look

As I looked through the analytics for The Graphic Mac over the last year it became increasingly obvious that more and more users were viewing it on iPhones and iPads. Unfortunately, the old theme of the site didn’t work as well as I had hoped on mobile devices. It was also quite cluttered in general. So I started looking for something a little cleaner to use. Today, you see the results.

The Graphic Mac update

The categories are listed in menus (when applicable) at the top in a desktop browser, but when you view it on a mobile device (or simply by resizing your browser window to be really thin), it places the navigation in a small drop-down style menu. The content is a lot more readable on mobile now.

Do you want comments?

The next step is deciding whether to allow comments on blog posts. I’ve had them turned off for a few years now, but I’m considering turning them back on (as I have for this post.) If I do turn them on, I won’t be using native WordPress commenting. Instead, I’ll be using either the Facebook Commenting System (like you see on many sites such as BuzzFeed), Disqus (which is used by the guys over at The Loop), or LiveFyre (which TechCrunch uses).

I’m leaning toward Disqus. It allows you to log-in using Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or a Disqus account. It also allows you to up vote or down vote comments, as well as share those comments via Twitter or Facebook.

[zilla_alert style=”green”] Ultimately, it’s up to you. I’ve turned on comments for this post, so let me know what you think below, or send me a note via the contact page (found under the About link at the top of the page). [/zilla_alert]

As you can see, the new site drops the sidebar, and reduces the lower half of the homepage to small summary-style boxes for the posts. It is my hope that the new design puts the focus squarely on the content. It’s not perfect, and I hope to fix small issues along the way, but I wanted to go live with it as soon as possible.

I hope you like the new site. And I also want to thank everyone for visiting the site for the last 10 years (starting with the original CreativeGuy blog). While the site was never designed to make me money, I do thank anyone who has ever clicked an ad (of which there is currently only one found down in the footer). It is my intention to keep the site as ad-free as possible.

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…)

Design tip: Choose your fonts wisely

Choose fonts wisely

A quick tip for designers who find themselves re-branding a company or designing a campaign. Choose your fonts wisely. That really cool font you download from the Internet probably looks great in the headline. But keep in mind that you’ll likely find out later on that the client wants to use it in the body copy of their brochures, posters, annual reports, etc. The last thing you want to be stuck with is a font family that has only a regular and bold font.

Try to use font families that offer a wide range of fonts. You’ll likely need a light, regular, semibold, bold and black version, as well as condensed versions of all of them.