7 Ways to Improve Efficiency as a Designer

I was staring the dribbble at the most popular designs and I was intensely looking for that magical equation behind a superb interface that sets you apart from the others. I tought I have to make something incredible every time, in order to be on that top, but while visiting a famous designer’s profile, suddenly […]

I was staring the dribbble at the most popular designs and I was intensely looking for that magical equation behind a superb interface that sets you apart from the others.

I tought I have to make something incredible every time, in order to be on that top, but while visiting a famous designer’s profile, suddenly I realized something. Not all the work he created was ‘perfect’, but somehow he became better with every shot. My very next tought was: if he can do it, then I can do it.

I just need to setup a clear vision, work harder, protect my focus, learn new skills and enjoy the process.

Here are some of the tips, that helped me boost my daily basis activity:

1. Choose Your Niche. Stick With It

Your human tendency is to create all kinds of design work, a combination of many things, because you’re so passionate and you don’t want to leave people out by niching it down, but the harsh truth is that you’re not telling a clear story.

You got to distinguish yourself, by finding that one thing that you want to be known for. Perhaps you heard this before:

Good at everything and great at nothing

It’s time to cut straight to the point in your work. Curate what you share and don’t complicate things. Test out what your audience appreciate the most, give them more of that awesome work which brings you the most joy, and they will come back for more.

People will put you in a box, you only need to define that box. Sean Wes

If you create admirable logos, people will start to see you like a logo expert:
‘ Hey, I know a guy from dribbble that does wonderful logos’, but if you end up with creating different materials over and over, it will be very hard for someone to process and digest you.

2. Build Trust and Provide Value

Showing up every week with creative shots that inspire others is good, but not enough, and you feel like you need to take your business to the next level. Probably you launched a product and you are busy with gaining traffic and sales, but if you don’t have an audience, your sales will collapse at some point.

These are some of the most common cases, that designers get stuck with, and they have to change their strategies in order to survive.

It’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. Charles Darwin

If you have experience and knowledge, I suggest to learn and teach everything you know. Maybe you can build your own blog and provide valuable content, that resonates with people from all over the world. Talk to other designers, see what’s their struggles and help them become a better version of themselves. Don’t just spam their inbox with your product.

Stop feeding your ego and accept advises from people outside your field. You will be surprised, of how you can learn something valuable, from a random guy that take his business seriously.

Make a commitment to work every day, write tutorials, respond to their needs and turn all of this into a habit. Be consistent and let them know what to expect from you.

3. Deal Criticism With Confidence

We are working for people in the end, and if you want to stay balanced in this field, you need to know how to face criticism. Everyone is a designer these days, especially if you are working for an agency or a big corporation and yes, you know what I mean 🙂

Let’s say you’ve created a superb interface, without exceeding the deadline, almost everybody is happy with it, except a few ones. Take a look at some tips that I discovered the hard way:

  • Prepare for the show and bring up solid arguments. Respond with confidence. Let them know that you are in charge.
  • Listen to their feedback and answer with cordiality. Take a deep breath and calm down even if it’s hard. Admit if they have good ideas and be flexible.
  • Altough, there are a few people who want to offend you, but if you get angry, it will be difficult to manage the situation. Don’t respond and smile.

Some people hurt you and then act like you hurt them.

Corry Miller has a super awesome podcast on How to deal with criticism. Take your time and enjoy it.

4. Stay Away From Distractions

Increase productivity by outlining out your day. A to-do list will allow you to keep track on your progress and be mentally rewarded, that you scratched off another item of your list.

If you are in the middle of creation, you need to eliminate every possibility of interruptions: protect your focus and close your Facebook page, put your phone on silent and work for at least one hour, without interruption.

Write down these distractions and next time you will enjoy that lovely peace of mind. Try repeating the process and eventually what seamed a somewhat unappealing action, will become a habit with productive results.
Don’t forget to reward yourself 🙂

“Successful people are simply those with successful habits.” Brian Tracy

5. Improve Your Portfolio

Building a strong portfolio requires time, dedication and hard work, but in the end it is worth the effort. Its purpose is to attract future clients, with cool side projects, because you developed the ability of creating beautiful designs that work, and that prepare a freelance business life for growth.

If you still have to answer the calls of a regular day-to-day job, enhancing your portfolio might become an exhausting thing to do, that’s why you need to plan ahead sessions of ‘deep creative performance’.

Anthony Moore’s article condenses four main strategies to produce deep work depending on different lifestyles. I strongly recommend it.

Do your best and create outstanding designs, share them with the community, ask for feedback, take time and make animations, and the outcame will be spectacular.

If you want to learn about UI animation using After Effects, I recommend Issara Willenskomer’s tutorial.

6. Work Hard and Enjoy the Process

Even if you have multiple projects with deadlines and you get to feel overwhelmed, just take a step back and relax.

Projects come and go, you will fail some and win many others. Knowing how to balance and understand yourself in the creating process is key, and over stressing with the thought of failing, will not be productive or healthy on the long term. Here’s what you can do to enjoy yourself while working:

  • Drink a good coffee.
  • Conceive your ideas on paper first. Play and test with some sketches and endure to follow your concept into complete realization.
  • Don’t pressure yourself too much, because it will be noticeable in your work.
  • Listen to your favourite music.
  • Take breaks, you will need them. A disconnection for a few minutes can be very helpful.
  • Find and work in a team.

7. Learn and Practice

Continuous learning needs to be a constant in a web designer’s life. Doing ‘good work’ is not enough. You need to be curious and challenge yourself, step out of your comfort zone to become the best designer you could be.

Work is a never ending process, that’s why no matter how busy I am, I always love to read useful articles on design principlescreative processtypography, get inspired by popular shots on dribbble and many other wonderful things, that are going on in this community.

What are your toughts about finding your niche? Are you consistent with your work? Do you feel like writing? What are your struggles right now? I would love to know.

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Thanks,
Dorin

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