I have a confession: I’m a lazy designer. Don’t get me wrong, I love putting my head down and doing my best to create quality work, but I’m also a big fan of finding ways to save both time and effort in every aspect of my workflow. I’m never proud of spending 40 hours on a project when I should’ve spent 10 to achieve the same result. If you’re a lazy designer too, here are some tips you might enjoy.
1. Stock Isn’t a Sin
Using graphics, fonts, and photos from sites like ours can help you bust out fantastic work in record time. A great design is simply a collection of well-crafted smaller pieces; however, not all of those smaller units have to be 100% of your own conception. Using a font or graphic from an online marketplace, or outsourcing parts of the work will help you achieve greatness without stressing the small stuff.
2. Originality is Overrated
Truly original design work is great, but don’t feel a need to reinvent the wheel with every client and project. Utilities like Bootstrap can rapidly speed up your workflow and are often perfect for your client’s needs. It’s easy to feel the need to astound by doing creative back flips, but what you need to remember is that while specific projects call for that type of effort, others might be more straightforward. Always do your best to provide what the client needs, but remember that the solution isn’t always going to be completely unique.
3. Finished is Often Better Than Perfect
Quality is extremely important, but setting firm deadlines for yourself keeps you sane and your clients happy. Think about it: how often have you been on a website like Facebook or Twitter and said to yourself “I wish you could…” or “This would be better if…” Yes, web designers think that, too, but if they corrected everything before putting out a finished product, the world would be a lot less exciting. Websites are evolving and users will always find better uses and data you haven’t synthesized, so if you aim for perfection, you’ll never get anything done.
4. Never Stop Learning
You might think that you only need to learn just enough Photoshop and CSS to get by, but you’d just be setting yourself up for more work as you fumble around and take the long route. A true lazy designer knows his software inside and out and spends his or her free time finding new shortcuts and tricks to explore.
When I first started using Photoshop, it was just to do a few designs for a class. It took me five minutes to figure out steps that now literally take seconds. These programs are meant to make complex tasks easy, so take full advantage of this. When you think about the seconds and minutes that every shortcut will save you and how that time and effort equals money, it becomes clear that learning shortcuts and tricks is a win-win.
Great Educational Sites
Here are some sites that you should check in on regularly to keep your skills sharp:
5. It’s Easier To Do It Right the First Time
Shortcuts are awesome. Cutting corners and delivering terrible results…not so much. You’ll save yourself a lot of hassle in the long run if you do everything you can to get design projects right the first time. I don’t know about you, but I just don’t have the energy to go through endless rounds of revisions. Spend more time thinking and less time doing.
Work out the potential problems you may encounter beforehand so you don’t waste time at the computer or sketchbook. Have an idea of the finished product in mind while working, but don’t be afraid to edit what you can see becoming a potential hazard or trying out a new idea. When you’re done, do a quick scan for any obvious mistakes. Check your work and make sure you haven’t forgotten anything. By working ahead in your mind, carefully editing while you design, and reviewing the whole piece before calling it a day, your new first draft becomes as good as your old third draft.
6. Some Clients Need to Be Fired
Clients mean work and money. Never disrespect them or undervalue them. That being said, some clients are more trouble than they’re worth and you’ll make your life a lot easier by letting them go. Say it with me, “I am a professional and deserve to be treated as such.” If you feel like you are being abused, underpaid, or simply not respected by your clients, it’s time to have a meeting or to cut and run. Clients can have very unreasonable demands and, as hard as it sounds, it can be better to leave a bad situation with little to no tension than to stay and finish. One way to be proactive about this is to set honest, clear goals in a contract with your clients.
7. Outsourcing is Awesome
More work means more money, but everyone has a limit. Take on more work than you can handle, then offload the bulk of it. Spend your time on the projects that you enjoy and let other people take care of the rest. You need to find people who can work independently and don’t need a lot of hand holding, or you’ll find yourself in a terrible situation. A quick guide to picking helpers: if you don’t feel like you’d be proud putting your name on one of their pieces, don’t work with them. Good work is collaboration. Work with designers who are at your level so any questions or problems become a discussion, rather than you teaching someone how to do something you could do yourself.
What Are Your Lazy Designer Tips?
These tips are going to save you time and effort. Remember, the truly lazy designer is smart, efficient, and exact: don’t give any more or less than you have to while getting the job done right.
Header image created using Big Pack of Flat Line Illustrations.