Keep in mind these aren’t rules and i don’t own the truth. It’s rather some work in progress i will be adjusting on the fly and learning with it.
Lately, i have been working on some techniques and methods to keep me on track and aligned with my long term goals as a professional. But as you know, with our routines it is super easy to get distracted, either by a squirrel on water skis, a cute dressed puppy on Youtube, a blonde Dutch model running a marathon or just god.
01. If it doesn’t move, it is not digital.
This is the first rule i automatically apply to my process. It comes out naturally at this point. To be honest, i am sick of seeing this “online posters”. Static layouts don’t work, this is not 1998 anymore.
difference between Print-Background-Graphic-Designers and Digital Designers.
Some professionals don’t give enough credit to animations, mostly because they consider them unnecessary and “noisy”. Some professionals are wrong in most cases though. Of course, we must agree with the fact that it’s easy for a Designer to get carried away with animations and overdo them. But i am not here to talk about bad experiences.
I still remember this episode when a great friend of mine once asked me, with his impatient yet playful way of arguing, “what is so great about a couple of toys moving around?”. I laughed. It was a valid question though, so i had to give him a shot. I believed he was just lacking some context in order to understand why some Designers consider these details carefully, so i spent some minutes explaining why i think the way i do.
02. Lead your goals and your client’s goals
Be the solution through Design and run some shit. If you have a small client, show them the competition status, their flaws and your opportunities. Give them options and guide them through style. Iterate with the team before you jump into Designing layouts.
This is probably the most important and extensive part of your process. For the simple fact that you will deal with it all the time. Yeah, all the time. In fact, you are going to remind your peers and clients who the hell is leading that entire run.
Exactly! You have to lead your goals and your clients goals. Selfish Designers usually don’t get this point. They don’t design for people and barely keep the business needs to be addressed. This kind of professionals design for their ego or, at most, for other Designers to judge. You can actually feel the bubble in these cases, we push pixels and make it look cool, fresh and [please insert cliché word here]. Well congrats, the client is gonna love it… and then ruin it – with a “3-pages-small-feedback”.
03. It will be ephemeral anyway
Don’t be afraid of creativity. Push your boundaries even with the tightest briefing. Seek for new stuff, sell it or at least try to. If the client is too afraid of the “risk” (yeah they call it a risk) you will find a way to manage those expectations. But companies who don’t take initiative and don’t explore new possibilities, will never be on the lead. So clients… don’t be overwhelmed, even your old successful plan is going to die someday.
You know those projects where you get a clear and exciting-enough briefing? Well, your team starts doing some research, your PM gets everybody on board, insights on the table, you explore your concept, everything is ready to go, you present your overall ideas, the client is happy and aligned with you. They say “we want to be perceived as a creative company, let’s see what you guys have in mind for execution”.
04. Be mindful with the time spent on Photoshop
Working on an environment that is not the final one is kinda useless. Think about it. When stripped off your photoshop skills, you’ll need to reach down to the essence of the story you’re telling.
“Photoshop has been lying to you!”
We all know how much designers love photoshopping. Oh god they love it!
If you pay close attention, it feels like a ego-trip. Drawing and tilting our heads to double check every single sacred decision made. Using grids and guides and rules and shortcuts and filters and modes and… all for nothing, basically.
You guys might get me wrong with this one, but there is no such thing as “pixel perfection” for designers — unless you also code. Pixel-perfect will happen on staging, it is the developer’s job to make that happen. Our .psd file is worth nothing if the final work is living in a different environment. It hurts i know, but we are wasting time designing full layouts and tweaking details that are going to be reviewed, discarded and told to be done again.
I love the idea of pixel perfection, yeah sure. But the one i can see on my browser, not the one made to fill my ego and fuck up creativity, deadlines and budgets. Photoshopping does that — not always but it does that a lot — it drains your creative energy, it lets you believe you are focusing on the right details.
Let me tell you something. Narrowing down our focus on a static layout and try to make it super “crisp” is just killing all the experimental opportunities we could have with animating, prototyping, coding, testing and feeling our ideas. We can easily lose the big picture, the message, the “user experience” we want to provide — and you know why? All because of Pixel-Perfect Misconception ( i just made that up, am i great or what?).
05. Content is King, but…
A simple container as “content” is not worked content, so a simple pretty image is not gonna cut it. Let it be part of the navigation, make it interactive and discoverable.
First and foremost: a simple container as “content” is not worked content so, a simple pretty image is not gonna cut it. That Hero section with the pretty snickers (you know the brand) with Helvetica Bold headline might look great, but i see that as a lazy trendy design solution. Just letting you know. Creativity needs to be addressed properly, usually with lots of freedom, and if you are rethinking the content let it be part of the navigation, make it interactive and discoverable.
The idea of perverting the web lives within the terms of rethinking and redefining the “norma” and highlights the content we are working on/with. Suddenly, the content becomes your voice, it’s the story itself — instead of a shuttered piece of it.
06. WTF (What tha Font!?)
Typography is a very very very important element, so make it either overtaker or multi-dimensional/multi-directional. Work and balance your compositions, top level Designers can be spotted easily, mostly because of that.
Work and balance your compositions.
Top level Designers can be spotted easily, mostly because of that. Here’s the thing: Great designers, they know the “rules and regulations” of typography and they can bring balance out of chaos. Usually, the layouts feel clean and light. But today, that’s not enough for excellence. You gonna have to create rhythm and real world feeling, animate your typography and let it be part of the content too — not just a merely informational element.
For instance, Bolden studio was able to explore a technical challenge with a solid concept and resolution using blending modes — multiply effect — on a multi-layered typography treatment. This interesting approach allowed the text to be the center of attention and then replicate it (over images) through the whole website.
As you can see, these are the treatments i consider when assuming typography as one of the main ingredients for World-Class website making. I am not talking about font-pairing, or line height rations, or readability factors, or any of those dramatic equations.
07. Cut the bullshit
08. Be human
This is a tricky one. But since our attention span is so low, discoverability becomes one of many ingredients for user engagement. You don’t need to go minimal, but let some stuff out of sight, be human, use other senses and techniques.
09. Give it life
Make it physical, add depth, bring texture in, we live in a 3D world.
10. Can you add a bit of AI (not illustrator) to your Interface?
Take your time. If you relate to any of those points you’re just making my day. Think about it, get your shit together and kick some ass.