50 Ways to Become a Better Designer

50 Ways to Become a Better Designer

Being a successful creative has a lot to do with the way you work. Sure, you can’t teach good design, but it never hurts to learn a few new tricks, or simply make the most of your talents. So without further adieu, here’s 50 ways to be more successful as a designer. Take ’em or leave ’em.


Don’t get stuck before you’ve started: get some good ideas.

1] Metaphors.

Great ideas can stem from using themes and metaphors. Basing a site design around the idea of a school, for example, can open up a whole avenue of ideas. A great design works because the theme houses and conveys the content seamlessly.

2] Don’t take all day to brainstorm.

It always helps to throw ideas around with a colleague or friend (as long as he knows what he’s doing). Try to have a couple of short sessions of brainstorming rather than one massive one as ideas can quickly go cold.

3] Get off that computer!

Sometimes it’s best to just have a break. Leaving the computer can seem like going on holiday in rush hour, but it usually helps if you just take a 10 minute break and get some fresh air. If you can’t do that, try listening to some music, or taking your jumper off.

4] Join a forum.

A lot of creatives work from home, but that doesn’t mean they can’t talk to anyone. There are a lot of really helpful and talented people out there willing to have a chat about design, you just need to find them. Here are some of my favorite forums:

Graphic Design Forum (one of the oldest and largest forums on graphic design)
Smashing Magazine Forums
Layers Magazine
Designate Online
DevLounge (OK, it’s not a forum, but it’s a really decent site)

5] Think brand.

Try going to a few courses on branding, as brand thinking is vital to developing the way you think. Keep your ideas squeaky simple, and 9 times out 0f 10 they will work. Thinking in terms of branding means you can develop key words to stem your ideas from. Complexity just doesn’t work.

6] Use a sketchbook.

I almost always start with ideas that I have scribbled down in my trusty sketchbook. Whenever I get an idea I just make sure I get it down on paper. This always helps as whenever you’re stuck at a later date, you don’t have to go out and buy another book, just refer to your own! Don’t just keep it to ideas though, put URLs, book titles, words, and all the sketches down that you can. It will develop into your creative mind, on paper.

7] Get your specs straight.

Always ensure you know the media you’re going to be using at the start of working on a project. Knowing that there’s going to be photography involved means you may need to think about locating a shoot. 3D may mean getting some help to make it look that little bit better. Taking it to print in the last minute is also not advised: things never go to plan! Ensure you know the scale of production you’re going to be dealing with, and research the printing processes you’re going to use.

8] Draw a map.

I find it helps to visualise the brief. Highlight key words and phrases, and jot them down in your trusty sketchbook. Then see how these ideas could link up by drawing lines between them and branching out from those core ideas. Pretty soon you’ll have enough on the page to sketch out some decent ideas.

9] Rough it out.

Once you have THE idea, and it’s on paper, try putting it together at low res on the computer. This way you can see what you might need to rethink or improve to get the job done well. At this stage you don’t need to worry about perfect dimensions or colours, just see how it goes.

10] Take a shower.

No, not because your odor is putting your colleagues off, but because (apparently) running water increases brain productivity. Try not bring the brief in with you, but spending time in a place that you feel really comfortable in can greatly help those ideas flow.Practice makes Perfect

Getting into good habits is one of the best pieces of advice for any designer. But how?

11] Stay on top of the latest happenings.

Don’t let yourself fall behind the times of design and technology: they’re both fast moving industries. On the other hand, don’t go following the latest fads just because everyone else is. Keep up to date by visiting sites such as Smashing Magazine and DesignIsKinky. However, our personal favourite for up-to-date design is this absolutely mind blowingly awesome site called Liquidicity 😉

12] Keep to web standards.

It always looks like you mean business when your site is 100% standards compliant. However, some browsers (cough *IE* cough) still don’t always like to play ball. If it works and looks the same in all browsers then you have done your job, no matter how compliant you are. If there is one tool you’re going to get to dramatically improve your web design standards it would have to be the Web Developer Toolbar for Firefox.

13] Make a library.

In most programs, you end up reusing something that you once made a while ago. It always helps to keep a well organised library of all your reusable files. This especially applies when you’re working with Flash, where you can keep track of loops, buttons, timers, code snippets, and symbols. This centralised library can also help keep you’re work consistent.

14] Save. Save. Save. Save again.

Are you getting the message? No matter how decent your computer is, don’t leave yourself in a position where you could lose all of your days work in one flick of a switch. Sometimes it helps to have had a dodgy computer in the past, as I now save every time I leave the window I’m working in. Sometimes my Mac just won’t play ball, and the only option is a reboot. Don’t let a reboot ruin your day.

15] Collaborate.

We never let things go before we’re completely happy about the final version. Working together means you can share your ideas as mentioned before, but also give critique to one another before finalising the design. These friendly, supportive criticisms can save you from harsher comments later on from your boss or client. Working together is also a whole lot more fun.

16] Do it right first time.

It’s not always easy, but ensuring you have tested your site across browsers thoroughly before putting it out in the open will ensure your customers and clients are a lot more happy. This sort of service is what a lot of clients will look out for when choosing someone to design (or redesign) their site.

17] Save your repeated actions

In a lot of applications you can end up doing the same tasks over and over again. For example in Photoshop you can save repeated procedures as “actions”. If you happen to be a Mac user and have OS X Tiger, you can use Automator to run repetitive aspects of your work flow for you. To be honest, I have never really got on with “Auto”, but I know a lot of people find it really helpful.

18] Your assets’ greatest asset.

Keeping track of your assets can be a challenge, but it’s important you keep them how YOU want. Everyone has a different way of working. For example, when working on a site, I keep all of my full res and vector images in an entirely separate folder to the site, and when it comes to getting final composites ready for the web, I export at a compressed size to the respective folder of the site. One of the reasons why I like Illustrator so much is because there’s no need to worry about starting off at a large resolution, due to the vector based design. This is important in Photoshop, where it’s always best to start off big, and scale down when you need to.

19] Simplify.

Striving for simplicity may not seem too tricky at first, but when you have a wealth of ideas, it’s important not to complicate and distort your original message. If you are using a lot of complex visual elements, try to keep the colours simple, and vice versa. This way, your colours and design won’t compete with each other.

20] Experience is everything.

The longer you have worked in design, the more experienced you become. Spending more time focusing on the applications you use can really speed up your production, making you more efficient and more knowledgeable of their feature sets.

Software Skills

Don’t be a bad workman and blame your tools. Ensure you know your applications like the back of your hand.

21] Naming Files.

Often overlooked, but naming your files in an organised and consistent way really helps you see how things have progressed, and what file belongs where. Never EVER attach “final” to a filename, because you will always go back to it and change it. Eventually you’ll have a folder full of twenty newer versions of that “final” revision. I have got into the habit of naming my work and putting “01”, “02” etc after it so I can see how many revisions I have made easily, and recall an older one to compare quickly.

22] Gradients in Flash.

The default green to black gradient in Flash is evil. Don’t use it. Ever.

23] Another layer of Photoshop Cake.

Always try to use as many layers as possible when working in Photoshop, avoiding merging them together. The worst thing possible is doing an amazing composition and thinking “actually, I think I’ll change that” and realising you merged those 2 layers. What’s worse is if you have gone past its history state, meaning even if you undo the last 50 changes you have made, there will still be nothing you can do!

24] Use a pen and paper.

In this day and age, it’s getting less and less common to use a pen and paper (I hope you remember what they look like). Try sketching a few images out and scanning them in. Bring them into Photoshop and play around for a bit. This can really help you build a more organic and original feel to your work.

25] Play with Colour. Like no other.

After creating your image in Illustrator, or whichever application you use, try modifying the colours slightly by pulling it into Photoshop. This can really help you to unify the final colour of the composition.

26] Buy a new computer.

Call that a tip?! Well, it’s often forgotten, but the apps on the shelves today are getting faster and faster. To be honest, if your computer is more than 5 years old it’s time to consider an upgrade. Obviously your requirements are going to be unique: 3D animation is a whole lot more demanding than print design, but never the less, the faster your computer, the faster you can work. Many designers prefer Macs (I do), but PCs can run all of the applications that Adobe provide, and a few more. The PC vs. Mac argument is entirely up to you.

27] More RAM.

Just bought a new computer? Time to buy more RAM. Can’t afford a new computer right now? Buy more RAM. All the small jobs, like working on a couple of images, writing on your site, and playing back previews in Flash build up to devour any RAM you have. It’s as simple as this. Buy more RAM and you’ll be able to work faster.

28] Get more plug ins.

No matter which application you use, there’s almost always more plug ins available. Getting new filters and effects for Photoshop can greatly help you improve and speed up your work. Adobe’s own site is great for Photoshop plug ins.

29] Gradients in Photoshop.

To avoid the horrid “banding” that occurs when printing gradients in Photoshop, add a little noise to the layer. Obviously the amount of noise varied depending on canvas size and resolution.

30] Learn more.

Buy a few books, and visit a few of the websites that have been created to teach you how to use the software you own. For example, when I was learning Flash, the first thing I did was go out and buy a book. Sams Publishing run a great series of books claiming to teach you [app name or programming language] in 24 hours.

Finishing Work

A good designer checks his work. A great designer double checks it.

31] Ask your friend.

Get a friend or someone nearby to give their thoughts on your work. Even if they’re not a designer, it always helps to get another perspective on your work.

32] Do some Acrobatics.

If you have to send a piece of work for printing (gasp), check, double check, and triple check everything in Adobe Acrobat Professional. Things you should look for are overprints, spot colours, trapping, and knock-outs. Doing this simple step thoroughly will save a ton of time, and money.

33] Add texture.

To give pieces a more organic feel, consider adding hand made gestures, and bringing a texture to your work. Don’t over do the organic additions, though, ultimately you should know when the work is complete.

34] Bring a little shade in.

Adding a few shadows, and darker areas can really enhance your work. These little touches can really create a flow in your work, especially if using vectors, as they bring a little smoothness to an otherwise sharp composition.

35] Take a Break. Then Stare Until your eyes hurt.

Once you are nearing completion of a project, try taking a break, going outside, and looking at other things- anything, for a few minutes. Then come back, and stare at the project again, for ages, looking for anything that could be changed for the better. Specifically look for colours that could be made stronger or weakened in images. In sites, look for the simple things that you would assume are correct, like links. There’s almost always at least one link where you have forgotten to put “http://” beforehand.

36] Stop. STOP!

Knowing when enough is enough is an essential skill. As time goes on you will get better at knowing when a piece is at its peak. Not every cake needs a cherry on top.

37] Print finishes.

Once your work leaves the computer, it doesn’t have to stop having any creative input. There’s a whole universe of ways you can dramatically enhance your work in print that are just impossible when it’s on screen. For example, you could try using metallic inks, foil blocking, embossing, and die-cutting. These effects can even be used together to create a really unique and inventive composition.

38] Prepare yourself.

When working with motion projects and animation you need to be prepared. Compressing clips early on in a project will eventually grow into a noticeably poor quality shot. Don’t compress anything until the final cut, and even then, keep a full, high quality version somewhere safe. Just in case.

39] Proof read.

They always said so at school: check your work before handing it in. Always ensure you re read work, and then pass it over to someone else and then someone else again. Get as many people to read your work as possible, ensure it all makes sense, and you’ll be fine.

40] Return to the brief.

Once you feel you’ve finished, give the project back to the team. Ensure everyone likes (maybe that’s a strong word, shall we say “doesn’t hate”) it. This is where you need to evaluate whether or not it meets the original brief, and if you have kept closely to your original idea.

What to avoid
Don’t dwell on your mistakes. Learn from them, and move on. (Heard that before?)

41] Never ever rely on the spell checker.

I really can’t emphasize this enough. Ensuring your text has no mistakes will not guarantee you more work, but letting work go out with mistakes will guarantee you being unpopular with your clients.

42] Work with clients, not against them.

Your clients may seem to be the ones holding you back, but they’re the ones that you need to listen to. Think of them as the ones who will lead you to the starting post and get you off in the right direction.

43] Re re read.

Again, it’s all about checking. Especially when writing emails, for example, don’t fill in the address bar until last. Not only does this avoid accidental sending of an unfinished email, but it also forces you to write it in full, and to think twice before sending it. Re read your own emails at least twice. You can’t just “undo” a sent email. If only…

44] Stick to the brief like honey sticks to toast.

A lot of companies try very hard, in fact too hard to win a pitch, and come across to potential clients as desperate. Just ensure you do what it says in the brief, and no more. This way you will save time and money.

45] Specifics.

Just ensure you are specific about what you are offering. If a client asks for something you are going to find difficult, make it clear that they will either have to give you more time, more money, or just leave it. Simple as that.

46] Do what you do best.

Don’t try to win clients who are going to demand more from you than you can offer. If you’re an amazing web designer, don’t go trying to dabble in professional 3D animation because it just won’t work. Stick to one thing, and show everyone else how awesome you are at it.

47] Keep a back up of everything.

Too often, I have lost files due to a disk error, or over written a folder by accident. These sorts of incidents are even more common with web design, when several members of a team have access to upload any files they want to the server. However, when running a site, you can also avoid loosing online files by ensuring everyone makes a copy of all the files on the server on a regular basis. You can even get scripts that will run a daily backup for you. For back up on your local machine, there’s already a plethora of options, but in OS X Leopard, the next version of the Mac OS, there will be a new back up utility called Time Machine, which will ensure everything is constantly backed up to an external hard disc. It can’t come soon enough.

48] Never assume anything.

Never *ass**u**me*: it will make an *ass* out of *u* and *me*. Too many times, people make assumptions and then kick themselves when it’s too late. For example, sending something off for printing, assuming the colours are all correct without a pre-print mock-up.

49] Justify yourself.

If you want to make a statement, or do something a little differently, many clients will say outright “No.” Try giving them a persuasive and valid reason for the decision, however, and they may feel more inclined to let you go with it.

50] Don’t over sell yourself.

Be up front and clear about what you are able to do. The last thing you want to do is make the client think you’re the best thing since sliced bread, and let them down at every stage of the project. Treat clients as they deserve. That’s all I’ll say.

Man I need a coffee.

You might also like: CSS Help Sheet, Colour, 165 Vector Icons (for free)

Subscribe to the GoSquared newsletter.

Join 15,000 people. Get our latest posts delivered to your inbox every week.

  • http://www.piksels.com Joel Laumans

    Great list, if i had to add anything i would say:

    51) Dare to make mistakes, it’s the best way to learn

    52) Learn from the best, go out and look at top designers and study their methods. Never hurts to try out new tutorials and so

  • Pingback: 50 Ways to Become a Better Designer « [REF]()

  • tezet

    great steps, great ideas, great way.

  • Pingback: 50 (or in our case 5) ways to become a better digital design artist… « NI-Limits Blog()

  • Janis Lacy

    Great list, guys.

    Couple of my own:

    To keep up with my software skills, I do at least one tutorial a day in one of my applications.

    As a solo freelancer, it’s hard to work in a vacuum. So I have a great network of colleagues I sometimes pass my designs by for their comments before I sending it off to the client.

    BTW, I also read a similar article was published a year ago in Computer Arts.


  • Pingback: liquidicity » Download ANY file from ANY site using Safari.()

  • http://gianmoenia.ubiqyou.com gianmoenia

    About Web Developer (in 12] Keep to web standards) i suggest to use even -or only- Firebug at http://www.getfirebug.com.

  • http://techn0phile.blogspot.com Kieran

    Great list.

  • http://crown-solutions.com CHIKE


  • son

    I love you

  • Pingback: Enlaces para leer y ver No. 30 « el50()

  • Karthik.P

    This is very useful for Designers. Very Good

  • Pingback: 50 caminos para ser el mejor Diseñador at Tirador Solitarioâ„¢()

  • Pingback: Webnova - Recursos Webmaster » Blog Archive » 50 Consejos para ser un mejor diseñador()

  • http://ehabmehedi.net Ehab

    Learn, Learn and Learn – thats the best way to get into things. Right now – reading this whole 50 points is “learning” itself ! ..

    No matter what you do – take 1 hour every day to read and ofcourse – to “See” other designers works. Go over to those flashy CSS design galleries and forums and check out what others are making.

  • http://www.cddesign.com CD Designer

    That’s some highly condensed, straight-up, unsweetened, finely distilled goodness for the design mind! Mantras of practicality for all levels.

    Well, back to #35…

  • Pingback: .ZexeL. - Blog » Blog Archive » 50 Consejos para ser un mejor diseñador...()

  • http://duluozville.miniville.fr/ind duluoz

    great list!

  • FM

    Awesome tips, dude.

    much appreciated.

  • Buzz

    The best one is 22. Green to black gradient. Awesome tip!

  • http://www.resetbyreset.com/blog jate


  • Pingback: Wie werde ich ein besserer Designer? » Mediengestalter-Blog.de()

  • Pingback: links for 2007-07-05 at elbview()

  • Pingback: TRINIX » Blog Archive » 50 Ways to Become a Better Designer()

  • Pingback: escape - ein blindwerk blog » 50 Wege um ein besserer Designer zu werden()

  • http://www.machine-a-idees.com Anthony

    I had a teacher who once told us “perfection is not when there is nothing else to add but where there is nothing else to remove” – always thought it was a great design tip!

  • Cheesepipe

    Pretty good list, and actually one that the author should also follow. In tip number 41 the reader is told to never rely on a spell checker. In tip 14 the author shows why this is true: spell checker will not detect when grammar is used improperly. One doesn’t “loose” work, one “loses” work.

  • Pingback: Tickle in my mind()

  • Pingback: Designerseye » Archiv » 50 Wege zu einem besseren Designer()

  • http://coda.co.za coda

    Of course you can teach good design.

  • A dog A

    51) Make your clients read this list.

  • Typo

    “To many times, people make assumptions and then kick themselves when it’s too late.”

    “Too many times…”.

    Great article. Many thanks.

  • Simon Hibbs

    Also, don’t focus on more than a handful of priorities at once so you don’t get overwhelmed.

  • http://www.nywellnessguide.com gene

    Great list. I also find inspiration from the street art. Having digital camera at all times helps. All you need to do is look around and keep your eyes open.

  • Pingback: Cloud » Blog Archive » liquidicity » 50 Ways to Become a Better Designer()

  • Pingback: WESCONet Web Services» Blog Archive » Some Link Quickies()

  • LH

    Good list, but another suggestion: design your website for everyone’s display. I have a 12″ screen, and this website uses absolute sizing and positioning, so I have to use the horizontal scroll to read it…

  • LAX


    “I really can’t emphasize this enough. Ensuring your text has no mistakes will not guarantee you more work, but letting work go out with mistakes will guarantee you being unpopular with your clients.”

    From the article:

    “…Pretty soon yo’ll have enough on the page to sketch out some decent ideas.”

    “…Often overlooked, but naming your files in an organised and consistent way really helps you see how things have progresse, and what file belongs where. “

  • Pingback: links for 2007-07-06 at found_drama()

  • http://catshideout.blogspot.com bootcat

    Nice collection . And yeah most of ur techniques really work because i have experimented em on my own 🙂

  • Pingback: instant surfing » Blog Archive » Weg als Ziel()

  • Pingback: Der kleine Wochenrückblick KW27 at trilodge computin blog()

  • Pingback: links for 2007-07-06 | iSurflite()

  • Pingback: links for 2007-07-06 | pristina.org | everything design()

  • Pingback: pixtorm blog » Blog Archive » ronda de links # 124()

  • Pingback: links for 2007-07-05 « toonz()

  • Pingback: Become a better designer: tips by Liquidicity | Daily designer news()

  • Pingback: bluemaex.de » Blog Archive » links for 2007-07-06()

  • Pingback: Felix Braun » Blog Archiv » links for 2007-07-06()

  • Pingback: Best of Feeds - 24 links - design, tips, facebook, blogging, games « //engtech - internet duct tape()

  • Pingback: 50 Ways to Become a Better Designer [powerbook_blog]()

  • Pingback: Urls Sinistras » Blog Archive » del.icio.us entre 03/07/2007 e 09/07/2007()

  • Pingback: hoschistyle » Blog Archive » 50 ways to become a better designer()

  • Pingback: links for 2007-07-06 « Mandarine()

  • Pingback: links for 2007-07-06 « M@’s Blog()

  • http://vector-art.blogspot.com Toni

    I really like num. 10 ! It works ! My admirations about the post !
    You mentioned using more plud-ins , I have posted a lot of free vector brushes for photoshop and illustrator – http://vector-art.blogspot.com/search/label/Brushes

  • http://www.ms89.net raid

    GREAT POST !!!!

  • Pingback: blindtext.net » 50 ways to become a better designer.()

  • Pingback: Gude’s Goodies » Blog Archive » Here I am!!!()

  • Pingback: Blog - TenMonkey Online!()

  • http://www.foruni.de Steffen Böhringer

    I used some of your advices to “create” a logo. Check the page and look at the logo 🙂


  • Pingback: 50 Ways to Become a Better Designer at New Media designer()

  • Pingback: playboi blog » Blog Archive » 50 Ways to Become a Better Designer()

  • Pingback: medianer.de » 50 Ways to Become a Better Designer()

  • http://www.samuelgrolli.com/blog Samuel Grolli

    Fabulous post!

    Can I translate to portuguese and post on my blog for people who don’t understand english?

    Obviously citing you like the author, and link your post/blog.
    It wold be a great aid to Brazilians designers.

  • Pingback: ... Kreuterwelt.de()

  • Pingback: think jeckel » Blog Archive » links for 2007-07-30()

  • http://www.sudoku.newask.org Jakob

    This is exactly what I expected to find out after reading the title o.us poetry. Thanks for informative article

  • Pingback: 1001 Lists To Read Before You Die | Terabell - technology, law, programming and a laugh()

  • Pingback: The 1001 list of Quality Reads -- you may want to read before you die()

  • Pingback: 50 Ways To Leave your NonDesigner at HakDesign Blog()

  • http://website-development-design.blogspot.com/ Abhishek Singh

    After reading these 50 Ways to Become a Better Designer, i feel that i get designer skills

  • http://www.rufzeichen-online.de Thomas

    Wonderful. Even If there’s hardly anything really new: One feels so flattered when reading a tip and thinking: heheh, that’s how I work anyway.

    I repeatedly laughed my head off.

    Buy a new computer… Yes, how many “Old School” Designers stick to their old Mac because they can’t afford a new one – well I don’t want to convert you to PCs. Yust buy a new computer. It’s a whole lotta fun.

  • http://www.myspace.com/sbyhair sbyhair®


  • http://www.probe3.de Zoltan Sasvari

    Thank you… for this GREAT Post!

  • Pingback: liquidicity » 50 Ways to Become a Better Designer « BlogBlog()

  • Pingback: » LinkSwitch – A Roundup of Great Links Across the Web()

  • http://jorgegoyco.blogspot.com jorgegoyco

    Good stuff. I’ll try the shower thing.

    The file naming thing is huge for me. I don’t know how many times I’ve had clients ask me to go back to last weeks version with the blue header, or whatever.

    Great list. Thanks


  • http://idreamincolors.com Nico

    #51: Learn the difference between “your” and “you’re”.

    Sorry, I had to! 0:)

  • http://zerodesigns.org ZERO

    #52: Stay up to date with design trends, but don’t go off the deep-end trying to look Web 2.0.

  • JerseyGuy

    Thanks for this list. I heard a great quote from Larry Summers recently (on the Charlie Rose show) that I also like to remember…
    “When we’ve made errors, have our errors been errors of vision or errors of timidity?”

  • http://www.veerendratikhe.blogspot.com veerendra

    Awsome article …

  • Pingback: » 50 Caminhos para se tornar um designer melhor - WebNatal - Divulgando os Padrões Web()

  • http://www.replete.nu Phil

    I am so printing this.

  • http://www.xtence.be Bassie

    It says it all, so the next will be gettin’ rid off all those wannabe’s who are still thinking you make a perfect website in frontpage

    they should shoot’em

  • http://07.xx27.biz/217.html ehsoftdy

    Good site!

  • Pingback: stockvault.net blog » 50 Ways to Become a Better Designer()

  • Pingback: Amazing List! « Jak’s Life 2.0()

  • http://www.creativecomputers.ca Bill Smith

    I would suggest condesing your list. Usually I don’t look at websites that have a list greater than about 20 becauseI just can’t be bothered… as you said in one of your tips – simplify…

  • http://css-tricks.com Chris Coyier

    Nice list! =)

    I love the design of this site too, good work.

  • http://www.piticstyle.com PiticStyle

    🙂 nice post~

  • http://msrebalivejournal.com Reba

    Thanks! This is great! Everythig is something I needed help on.

  • http://www.advise-art.com Advise-Art

    GREAAAT LIST !!!!!!

  • PMS186

    Great list; thank you for putting it together. However, I disagree with you on number 44.

    Yes, you should always present work that incorporates all of the key points in the brief.

    However, I am of the belief that you give the client what they want and then you present them with something unexpected. I have found even if they don’t pick this option; it show cases concept/design abilities outside of what they expected.

    It can’t hurt; only help.

  • http://theyoungbostons.com/dustin Dustin Boston

    I think all of these really add up to having a lifestyle that is conducive to creativity. It’s fun too, because once you start doing some of these things regularly you really get to this fun spot where you’re “in the zone.” In fact, I’ve found that typically I am able to maintain a high level of creativity for longer periods of time due to these types of exercises.

  • http://www.allgraphicdesign.com/ Rachel Goldstein

    Wow – One of the best design articles that I have read in a long time. Nice post. 🙂


  • http://www.designbynumbers.com.au Perth-Printing-Web-Design-Australia

    Great reading. Many thanks.

  • http://fran.carstensgmail.com Francois
  • http://www.psdslicing.com Webice

    Thanks for your suggestions.

    It’s worth considering all the ideas.

  • Kristin

    One thing I would add is to save or print copies of drafts that aren’t quite right. As I work through a design problem, I often want to go back and draw from something I had been experimenting with earlier.

  • Ben

    Establish a personal brand. Not just visually but emotionally, spiritually and physically. Use this as the basis for your design “journey”.

    I disagree with #42 to some extent. I’ve had numerous clients that have held not only me back but the company I work for. Two biggest culprits: indecisiveness and lack of respect for design in general.

  • Pingback: ZieDesign | Blog of a Freelance Designer » Blog Archive » 50 Ways to Become the Best Designer Ever!!!()

  • Pingback: dBlogIt » links for 2007-11-09()

  • Atkinson Middle School

    Hey!…Thanks for the nice read, keep up the interesting posts..what a nice Friday

  • Pingback: 50 veidi kā kļūt par labāku dizaineru « Heaven Nr. 110()

  • Pingback: 50 Ways to Become the Best Designer Ever!!! « Know Things()

  • http://www.liquo.com Nadja

    Nice Post! It’s very encouraging.
    Do you have any post about “Don’t over sell yourself”?
    Ways how to get the “it” project?
    I would really love to read it. Thanks

  • Ravi

    Excellent lists…
    I am very much impressed……

  • Pingback: Sawse - Stir it Up! » Blog Archive » Sunday Sawse: Mixed Art News & Design Tips()

  • Emily


    I think software is getting bloated!(Vista is a great example) If anything programs should be designed well enough not to require the top most spec’s of the latest computer. **except for games but thats another barrel fish.

    Your average computers cant keep up with rate of your softwares requirements.

    Its the same as websites that cant open when my internet gets capped to 64k.

  • http://www.gosquared.com G

    OK, well what we mean is software is requiring faster and faster machines to run on. Apps are doing more calculations per second, and needing more processing power to carry them out.

    Your internet gets capped at 64k? Unlucky!

  • Pingback: manux » Favoritados no del.icio.us de 11.10.2007 a 12.11.2007()

  • Pingback: » 50 ways to be a more successful designer()

  • Pingback: UNEEKGRAFIX » Blog Archive » Design Resources()

  • http://birchtreedesigns.net Dave Birch

    Great list…and I’ll add one that’s been great for me.

    51) Print out a proof. Sometimes just staring at my monitor for hours I can’t see the forest for the trees. Doesn’t matter if it’s a website or a brochure; sometimes holding a printout in your hand gives you a fresh perspective of your work. It’s also real helpful to me for noticing typos and any other errata.

  • Pingback: 50 tips para ser mejor diseñador - sinCafeina.com()

  • http://www.stamp-connection.com Xstamper

    Nice post! Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.whateverishere.com Whatever-ishere

    thanks for the GREAT post! Very useful…

  • Pingback: Missing Features » 50 Ways to Become a Better Web Developer()

  • Pingback: uglychart.com: a blog about stocks » Blog Archive » links for 2007-11-26()

  • Pingback: Motion Graphics « FDA Interactive Media()

  • Pingback: pwreencess speaks » Blog Archive » sometimes its fun to check that you are not alone…()

  • http://www.alphabetix.net/editing.htm Grammar Guru

    Super cool post!

  • Pingback: 50 Ways to become a better Graphic Designer « GrApHiC MeDiA()

  • http://www.lazymask.com Mchilly

    Thanks for sharing this, informative and helpful. I learn something it refreshes my mind lol

  • Pingback: 50 dicas para se tornar um bom designer « design-motion-graphics()

  • http://www.colorexpertsbd.com Color Experts International (CEI) – A Clipping Path Service Provider

    That’s a great article and glad to see that avoids common suggestions that most designers know. Therefore, I think it will very useful.

    I liked your words and tips regarding assumption. “Never *ass**u**me*: it will make an *ass* out of *u* and *me*. ”

    However, sometimes assumption can help you in get a list of alternatives, which can be tested and you always can provide variations in print. I am saying about always having Plan-B ready, but in situations where you have to assume.

  • Pingback: Hoe word je een betere ontwerper()

  • http://www.smitholi.com/css-templates Free CSS Templates


    [linked ;-)]

    I’m going to keep all the suggestions on this list in mind and try to follow them when i make my next design.

  • Pingback: Ser un mejor diseñador — Tablosign()

  • Pingback: Linkswitch! 874 Tips… Kinda (Sorta) - FreelanceSwitch - The Freelance Blog()

  • Pingback: thinkerpool.com: » Linkswitch! 874 Tips… Kinda (Sorta)()

  • http://www.artbymanjusha.com Manjusha Athani

    it realy nice.. i can impliment few of them in my art also…. nice thoughts…:)

  • Dharmesh Nakum

    This is too good and helpful to all designers


  • http://www.saibposervices.co.uk Clipping path Tracing- SBL UK

    That are better ways …Good effort …let it be tallied with the hard work and creativity …making these steps perfect…

    Regards SBL- Clipping path tracing

  • http://www.saibposervice.co.uk clipping path service-SBL

    Nice blog and nice matter….got new tips on designing ….nice work

    clipping path service-SBL

  • http://www.chuckmadere.homestead.com Chuck Madere

    I enjoyed them.

  • http://www.saibposervices.com/Photo-restoration-retouching_services.aspx Photo restoration, retouching Services

    Thanks for sharing this, informative and helpful.

    Photo restoration and retouching Services

  • http://www.saibposervices.com.au/restoration-retouching_photos.aspx Image restoration service

    Great work!
    It was very helpful

  • http://www.2klix.nl 2KLiX

    Clear advise that should lead to cleaner designs

  • http://www.silverfiredesign.com/silverphoenix silverfire

    Nice clean design, and wonderful tips. Thought for the end-user and experience went into them, and it shows. I send a huge thank-you to you for taking the time to put out some quality tips for budding, and experienced designers alike.

    All the best,


  • http://www.gosquared.com G

    Thanks for the comments.

    Showing appreciation for hard work makes it all worth it.


    The GoSquared Team

  • http://www.game.pedna.com John Brown / Free Online Games

    Super cool post!

  • Pingback: Design Inspirations for June 30th | isuckatdesign.com()

  • elizabeth hughes

    i`m ten years old but i`m really good.if you could just see my desighns.

  • Pingback: Nenhum faraó egípcio está de perfil | LULI RADFAHRER()

  • trupti.kondia

    this is wonderful man lovely…………….
    i just love it. great ideas and when i tried them they really worked well for me. thanks a lot….cheers

  • http://GRAPHICS@SBL-Imageclippingservice GRAPHICS@SBL

    I saw the work.It is really informative.


  • http://www.sblgraphics.com GRAPHICS@SBL-Clipping Path services

    Wery helpful one….

    It was fine to get such a thing here.

    Nice points and techniques about designs and designers…


    Graphics@SBL- Clipping path | Image masking Services

  • http://www.breadandbuddha.co.uk/ webdesignuk326

    Very nice post. its too much helpful for all the web designers who want to give quality work to their clients.i got lots of information about web design through this blog.

  • Pingback: liquidcity: 50 maneiras de se tornar um designer melhor | Pedro Koblitz()

  • Pingback: Added by a PAL to FAQ PAL()

  • Pingback: liquidicity » 165 Vector Icons, Now in 5 Colours()

  • Pingback: fotofixfax.com - grafikdesign / webdesign / print - Blog » Blogarchiv » 50 Wege…()

  • Pingback: Ask Nubby #16: Graphic Design Resources | Nubbytwiglet.com()

  • Pingback: Web Design: From Good to Great in 25 Links - webmajstor.org()

  • Charl

    Awesome list—all I can ad from the “printing-side” of design: if your work needs to go for special treatment (let’s say printing with die-cutting & embossing) just simply contact the company doing it, and ask for there preferences in terms of how they need it(best setup for their technique)… Can’t say how much time & butt-skin that saved me!

  • Pingback: 60+ Ways to Improve Your Productivity as a Designer | Outlaw Design Blog - A Graphic Design Blog()

  • http://vuongot.info Vuongot

    Thank you man, if I could met you, I will give you 50 cup of coffee 🙂
    Very, very great work and useful for me.
    One more time, Thank you very much!

  • Pingback: The Best of the Week | LogosGuide | The visual works of Otba Mushaweh()

  • Mido

    hello every body … i hope that some one who is expert read this and help me out
    iam working as a designer in Dubai..but i used to be a cartoon artist and animation director …
    so now iam forcing a great deal of hardness in my new job not coz i can’t deal with cs’s softwares but it’s
    just that i can’t design like the boss wanna me to do i use effects and he doesn’t me to do .etc…help me plz…this is my email …..soscaller@hotmail.com

  • Pingback: #49. Read ‘The 1001 List Of Quality Reads’ « 6ixx()

  • http://www.htmlg.com/ Eric

    Great list, I can see that you’ve out much time and thought into this.

  • http://ashleymcfarland.com Ashley McFarland

    This is a great (and really inclusive!) list for designers and students like myself. Simple bullet points, but they can really change your work day or work life! Thanks for these!

  • Pingback: phygital » Archiwum bloga » na weekend kreatywnie()

  • http://dailydesignfix.com Melanie

    DUDE. Do not rely on a spell check. ‘Their’ is a word, but it may not be the RIGHT word. I definitely need to re re read my work more often.

    I also think the RAM is a good idea. We owe it to ourselves to work on a computer that works for us.

    Great post to getting back to basics! Thanks

  • Pingback: 50 ways to become a better designer: htt… « LinkJAMB()

  • http://youshouldliketypetoo.com Rob

    Not to nit pick, but I happened to click on several links in the article and so far 4 have not worked… What about that re reading, proof reading, and double checking?

    Also have to agree with #22 – the width and absolute positioning is a problem.

  • http://www.gosquared.com James

    Thanks everyone for the appreciation – makes writing this stuff worth it!

    @Rob, apologies for some of the broken links, it’s been a while since we viewed this post – if you look it was written back in May of 2007 and we weren’t expecting Smashing Magazine to send us so much traffic at such a random time. We an see the links that are broken and will remove the ones that are no longer active and change them to some better, more current sites.

    For anyone wondering, PixelSurgeon sadly shut down last year and Pixel101 used to be a great forum, but also ceased to be sometime last year.

    Thanks and apologies again while we sort out the messed up links.

  • Pingback: Liquidicity » 50 Ways to Become a Better Designer | TwURLed News (beta)()

  • Pingback: Rebekah Renford [New Media] » Blog Archive » I do solemnly swear…()

  • Michael

    Learn the difference between “lose” and “loose”.

    Lose is the opposite of win.
    Loose is the opposite of tight.

  • http://gastonrojas.com.ar Gastón Rojas

    Excelentes tips!
    Felicitaciones desde Argentina-

  • http://www.fullfx.antzfx.com fullFx

    I am not a full time designer. But taking a shower has helped me big time in the past

    — fullFx

  • http://twitter.com/jokr jokr

    A really nice and elaborate article . . .great job! I didn’t have time to read it all but looking over it there is one thing that caught my attention:
    #4 Join a forum. -> Smashing Magazine Forums (Probably my favourite) … I find the smashing forum as a very young and pretty inexperienced community in great need of professional moderation …
    I have no doubt that this will grow up to be a very representative forum in the design world . . .but at this time I have to say it’s NOT even worth mentioning.

  • http://www.gosquared.com James

    Made a few more little updates…

    @JOKR I listed Smashing Magazine’s forums as an update as the previous list of forums was out of date – most of my old favourites have since ceased to exist. Smashing Magazine’s forums are growing, but as you said, they still have a way to go. So I’ve added GDF in there for good measure.

    @Michael loose and lose – silly mistake, and now fixed. Thanks for pointing it out.

  • http://www.cuttingedgeprojects.co.uk/services.html Internet Marketing, Web Development, BPO Service

    I am not actually a designer but business promoter. Even then this article helped me a lot to get our business website enhanced.

  • http://bookbyte.com Janet

    Great list. Have to add: challenge the brief. Ask yourself, why should the customer care? How will it make their life better/faster/more cost-effective, etc. If you don’t feel great about the answers to these questions its quite possible that the brief is, well, incomplete at best and pure crap at worst. Be ready to challenge the author in an appropriate ‘it’s all about the customer’ spirit.

  • http://www.easientry.com Steve

    Great post, Thank you for the tips!!!!

  • http://www.formatt.info peter

    i’m printing this out as we speak..

  • http://www.zeroSquadron.com skipZero

    Great list! Love the title for 44! Toast is yummy! 🙂

  • http://www.clippingimages.com Fuad Ahasan Chowdhury

    Thanks a lot for these type of great pathways.. great share.. these tips will help a lot for newbies to pros.. 🙂


  • Pingback: So news about me… « Trudesign’s Weblog of bloggy goodness.()

  • Pingback: 33 Tipps für einen guten Designer | Asmodiels Homepage()

  • http://www.clippingpathintl.com Clipping Path International

    Great list, thanks for this type of tips

  • http://www.clippingpathintl.com Clipping Path International

    its great

  • http://www.colorexpertsbd.com/ M M Ruhul Kuddus Sagor

    i think this is very useful and effective for a great designer.

  • http://www.stoneexporters.com stone

    Thats a really good and help ful list…Thank you for being so kind….

  • Pingback: Twitter Trackbacks for Liquidicity » 50 Ways to Become a Better Designer [gosquared.com] on Topsy.com()

  • http://www.ljdesignstudio.com Larissa

    Great list. I would like to add good typography to being key in becoming a better designer. There is a great article called “13 Signs of Badly Designed Type” http://ljdesignstudio.com/104-13-signs-of-badly-designed-type

  • http://www.gosquared.com/ James Gill

    @Larissa Typography is absolutely essential too – I think we could write a whole article on “50 Ways to Become a Better Designer through Typography Alone”!

    That’s a really interesting article you linked to – thanks for sharing it with us.


  • Firose Ullattil

    It’s a great stuff, Nice post! Thanks for sharing!

  • Pingback: Become a better designer: tips by Liquidicity | Designer Daily()

  • http://blogs.kartika9.com Kartika Angkawijaya

    Thanks for the list! It inspires me 🙂

  • Pingback: 50 ways to improve your design skills :: Reflex Stock Photo Blog()

  • Pingback: 6 طرق تحسّن من تصميمك لصفحات الويب()

  • http://www.marnen.org Marnen Laibow-Koser

    I’m a Web developer who also does some design — not primarily a designer — but I very much liked your list. For point 21, however, I think it would be better to use some sort of version control software to maintain file versions. Some applications offer version tracking built in; for those that don’t, there are generic version control systems such as Git. Every decent programmer uses these, but for some reason, they’re not well enough known outside the programming community even though they’re extremely useful on just about any project.

  • http://www.photoshopclippingpath.us/ Arif@photoshopclippingpath.us

    Helpful posting

  • http://www.photoshopclippingpath.us/ Arif@photoshopclippingpath.us

    very helpful posting

  • Pingback: 50 Tips Menjadi Desainer Yang Lebih Baik « Info Menarik()

  • Pingback: RT @gaksdesigns: 50 Ways to Be… « L'HYPERBLOG()

  • http://www.clippingpathcenter.com/ Al Kamal Md. Razib

    great article ! I like your posting. Thanks.

  • http://www.clippingpathindia.com Clipping Path India

    Nice one.Thanks for sharing such resource.

  • http://www.vectorimage.in RMunni

    It is a very helpful list. I like it.

  • http://www.freelancemachine.com/ Alex Cooper

    Great list. number 10 is interesting I would never though that would help. Thanks

  • Pingback: GD Weekly (28/06/10 – 02/07/10) | Glosario Interactivo()

  • http://www.rajeshgoutam.com Rajesh Goutam

    Thanks….Yes i like it…

  • http://www.clippingdesign.com Clipping Design

    Awesome collection of tips for designer’s specially who what to improve their skills. Very useful resources. Thanks for share. 🙂

  • http://www.clippingpathindia.com Rokaiya Yeasmin Munni

    I really like these way to create a better design.

  • http://www.designmybox.com Manik

    This is very helpful post, specially for them who really wants to improve their designing skills.
    Thanks a lot for sharing.

  • Pingback: Some Posts I read today // Roger Stringer()

  • Wasim Akram

    Thanks Alot For Help

  • Pingback: My Favorite Design Links of the Week()

  • Pingback: GoSquared – Blog – Type Dreams()

  • http://www.photoshopwarrior.com/ PhotoshopWarrior

    Nice post, i found forums to be a great source of knowledge. Lots of people are talking about different things in online forums

  • http://www.urbandizajn.com/ Web Dizajn Beograd

    “Experience is everything.”
    Very true. Without excercise, practise and experience, the talent is of no use.

  • http://www.optimizacijasajta.org seo optimizacija

    I must say that i totally agree with web dizajn beograd. A lot of hard work is needed for everyone to acquire the necessary experience.

  • http://www.novista.rs Novista

    I have shorter list on a paper on the desk. I always like to use a paper and pen and go for a walk outside, just to clear out thoughts.
    But I still have a problem #36, don’t know when to stop, must be the artistic part of me. 🙂
    Experience does give you speed, but there is a trap of doing job as a routine.

    And, there is a jumping frog fee for clients that are not sure about what they want and need.
    Great comments, too.
    Keep it squared 🙂 will follow

  • shajil

    Thanks a lot 🙂

  • http://seekingdesigns.us Tommy Priambodo

    this is very helpfull post. Specially for who improve their skill. Thanks for your advice

  • teresita castellano

    Useful and effective.Thank you

  • http://www.graphicexpartsonline.com Zaant

    This is really a great post….
    Thanks to share

  • Md Razaul Karim

    Great list ………i’m happy to get together the list. I think that it is good resource to inspired for beginner. Thanks a lot.

  • http://www.clippingsolutions.com/ Clipping Solutions

    Hey, its a really great designer post of i enjoyed lot.Thanks for a share with us.good bye.

  • Kevin Petersen

    Very effective post for a graphic designer.

  • http://clippingpathart.com Moniruzzaman Monir

    Hey James, It is useful post for us. So many, many thanks.

  • Clipping USA

    A helpful sharing for all I think. I personally benefited by your sharing. There are lots of ideas have been re-presented that is appreciated.

  • http://www.totalgraphicssolution.com Ashraf

    Hi, It’s very useful & helpful post. Thank you so much

  • http://www.clippingpathsource.com/ Tamjid Arafin

    I think the way you showed is very helpful to be a good designer.

  • http://www.clippingpathsource.com/ Tamjid Arafin

    Thank you for the nice post.

  • http://clippingphotoshop.com/ Clippingphotoshop

    This one is may be a best guideline to be a good designer indeed. All the directions are vital and should be followed if anyone wants to be a designer. Thank you so much for sharing this post.

  • http://clippingimagespecialist.com/ Clipping image specialist

    Its Really helpful thanks for this

  • Ashraf

    I think this is the very impotent tips who want to become a design profession. Thank you very much for nice post