Explaining Design Stuff to Non-Designers

Explaining Design Stuff to Non-Designers

Explaining Design Stuff to Non-Designers

This post comes after a frustrating meeting with a group of marketing personnel, who really have no idea what design really is. Basically the whole meeting was based around two colours they absolutely needed on the page, one colour to be the font and the other, the background.

 

And it begins

Sounds simple enough? Just wait… I told them we couldn’t use that combination for the font and background because they are the same tone. Say, what? Yes, they may be different colours, but because the tone is very similar, the font will not show up, or will be very hard to read.

They didn’t believe (or trust?) me and told me to “just try it and see what happens”. I gladly did so, because I knew this colour combo would not work in this particular case. I came back to the meeting with a printout in hand, showing them exactly what I was trying to explain to them.

 

Visual Aids

Now, there was a piece of paper on the table, which 90% of the room could not read. The other 10%? No, they did not have super powers, they had a fear of being wrong, so they insisted that they deep red font and deep purple background were the perfect contrast. Any designers reading this are probably rolling their eyes right now, as am I, as I write this down and re-tell the situation.

I simply told them they must have amazing eyes, but most people in the world don’t have as great vision. Also, we aren’t playing eye-spy with the customers, we want the product to stand out, not blend in. We need the packaging and text to pop so the customer knows exactly what it is that they are looking at.

Finally, after saying the line no body selling anything wants to hear, “products blending in and not standing out”, they agreed to look at some other contrasting colours.

 

Speaking their Language

I thought the best way to explain the tone-on-tone example was to give them visuals: black text on a white page vs. black text on a navy blue page. For some reason, it wasn’t working. My conclusion: some people do not like to be wrong. Find a way to speak to them in their “language”, business people don’t want to hear the words “blending in”, “cheap”, “boring”, “overpriced”, etc. The only way I could get the other 10% to understand that this colour combo was not the right choice was by using their language.

 

It’s all about how you present it

As designers, we think everyone knows what colour vs. tone is, or colour vs. saturation. Contrast vs. tone-on-tone. Just like I don’t understand anything to do with stocks, a stock broker may not understand colour theory. Go back to the basics. The best thing to do is use a visual example. Also, keep an even tone when speaking with clients, never speak in a way that makes you sound superior. Many authoritative figures do not like being wrong, some may even refuse to acknowledge when they are proven wrong, especially if they are being spoken to in a patronizing voice. It may become frustrating, just remember to take a deep breath and try to explain yourself in their language.

Let us know some of your experiences with clients who think they know everything and refuse to be proven wrong.

 

Dresses

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Why I Use Fiverr(.com) as a Freelancer

Why I Use Fiverr(.com) as a Freelancer

Why I Use Fiverr(.com)

Becoming a Freelance graphic and web designer is a dream of mine. Although, I’m also a little skeptical about the whole freelance career. Here are a few reasons I started using Fiverr.

 

Getting Started on Fiverr

When I first signed up for Fiverr, I wasn’t really sure how it worked. How was I supposed to rely on people finding me, when there are thousands of other graphic designers on there. After the first week of signing up, I stopped using it.

At the time, there were many other sites to use: freelancer.com and upwork.com were two of my favourites. I made two clients on each site in the first month of using them, before it went very quiet. I did like the fact that I could apply for jobs, as many as 10 per day, without having to pay. Of course you have to pay the hosts a % of the money you make. Which in reality is a couple of cents to a few dollars, depending on the job, of course.

After a while, I was tired of applying for all these jobs and never hearing back. Plus, I had a few scams happen to me while using both Freelancer and Upwork. Luckily, I didn’t fall for them, although, this really turned me off of the whole freelancing game for a while. A month ago, I decided I would try using Fiverr again. I decided to read all I could on how to use Fiverr efficiently. I learned quite alot, in fact, I decided I would share my insights with you all!

 

It’s Easy to Use, Once you Know How to Use It!

Like I said earlier, when I first signed up for Fiverr, I had no clue how to use it! I thought you just made a profile and that was it. I was very wrong, and this is why I wasn’t getting any customers! Here are a few ways to seek out clients and get customers attention.

#1: Add Gigs

By adding Gigs, you are showing potential clients what you know how to do, how much it will cost them and more. Go to Selling > Gigs.

Why I use Fiverr

Why I use Fiverr

Now that your in your Gigs, click on Create a New Gig. Also note the Different options you have. You can turn on Vacation Mode, so that customers know you are away (this is good for keeping your stats up). You also have an option to Accept Custom Offers. Basically this allows customers to ask you to work on design gigs other than the gigs you have listed.

Why I use Fiverr

Next, you’ll want to create your gig. It is pretty simple to do this, but it does take about 10 minutes to create each gig. Make sure you don’t add any web page links, otherwise your gig will not be accepted. There is also a short video to show you how to create a great gig, if needed.

Why I use Fiverr

#2: Check Out the Buyer Request

Customers can create Buyer Requests, to let creatives know what they want. Creatives can then big on the project (similar to Freelancer or Upwork). You can view Buyer Requests by going to Selling > Buyer Requests.

Why I use Fiverr

Why I use Fiverr

 

The next window you will see is a list of buyer requests in your creative domain. You can send 10 bids per day on Buyer Requests. Which is a decent amount, considering you won’t want to apply for all of them. The Buyer Requests look something like this (see below).

Why I use Fiverr

 

Hope this helps you all in becoming freelancers on Fiverr. Let me know if there’s anything else you need me to cover and I’ll send you a reply. Or send me an email and I’ll answer you that way!

 

 

 

Dresses

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Using WordPress as a Web Designer

Using WordPress as a Web Designer

Using WordPress as a Web Designer

Before WordPress, you had to build a website using a text editor or a program like Adobe DreamWeaver. Now, there are so many options, almost anyone can build a website. A basic website that is. It still takes a designer or developer to design the website properly and make the website usable and pleasing to the eye.

WordPress is not for people who have zero background in Web Design or Web Development. You definitely need a good amount of knowledge on how the internet works, how to create a database. You also need to know how to upload websites to the server.

08172017-BuildingAWordPressSite-2

 

Adding a Theme to WordPress

For this website I choose to use the Divi theme. Divi is a theme you need to pay for (but well worth the money, if you’re serious blogger or a web designer who will use this theme). Basically you have two options: pay for a year subscription, which is $89 a year (at the moment, the prices change every so often). Or pay for a lifetime subscription, which gives you lifetime access to all the current and new themes and plugins, which is $249. If you are a web designer who is planning on staying in the field for a long time, it’s worth it to buy the lifetime subscription. Elegant Themes is the company who created the Divi theme and many other responsive themes. They will normally give you a free trial period, to give the themes a test drive before spending your moolah.

It’s good to keep in mind that Elegant Themes are smart enough that they can track where there theme is being used and who is using it. So if you are going to be using the theme(s) for many websites over the years, it would be wise to pay for the lifetime access.

Wordpress-DiviTheme

 

Once you have chosen a theme (or designed a theme on your own), it’s time to customize the theme. You can customize the theme using the style.css file or you can use the theme customizer. Either way you have many options to make the website your own. As a web designer, it is great to have the majority of the coding done for you. Although, still being able to go in and customize it to your liking is also great.

Learning How to Use WordPress

I definitely suggest taking a course or two on WordPress before building your website in it. WordPress is super user friendly, but there are definitely benefits to learning about a program before using it. I took two courses on Shaw Academy, an online learning platform, in Web Design and Advanced Web Design which has helped immensely. It is especially helpful when it comes to setting WordPress up for the first time and then uploading it to a server.

I strongly suggest working locally, it adds a few more steps when uploading it to a host, but it is well worth it. You definitely don’t want an unfinished website sitting on the internet (not so great for your SEO). Working locally also speeds up the lag-time, which is another plus – there’s nothing worse than waiting 5 minutes for your page to load!

 

WordPress Plugins

Plugins are your friend, most of the time. Make sure, before downloading a plugin, that you have vigorously checked the ratings and comments on the plugin. Make sure that you read what is including in the free plugin and that it has everything you want and need. Here are a few plugins I love:

The Divi Builder– this plugin is a great add-on if you buy an Elegant Themes theme, it makes it easier to build your site visually.

Quick Featured Images – this plugin is great if you want to build a blog, otherwise your post snippets will only have a title and no image to go with it.

PHP Settings  – great for changing max_file_size and other PHP properties.

 

I’ll be making a blog post in the coming days on how to upload a WordPress website to a GoDaddy Hosting Account, for those of you who have questions now, do not hesitate to leave me a comment!

Dresses

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How to Work from Home Like a Pro!

How to Work from Home Like a Pro!

How to Work from Home Like a Pro!

Who doesn’t want a career where you have the ability to work from anywhere. I would love to travel around Canada one day, from coast to coast, without the worry of not being able to make money. As long as there is Wi-Fi (public Wi-Fi is great!) and a power source, you can enjoy my time off while still being able to get your work in! That being said, this is definitely the right career choice for my lifestyle.

I love the fact that when my fiancé travels to cool locations for work. Having the option of joining him, without having to take vacation. Working while he is at work and then go exploring with him in the evening. I can even do some exploring on my own during the day (remember to take a break from lunch!), to places that he might not be as excited to see, like art museums.

 

Cons of Working from Home

Although, working from home is not always ideal. Sometimes it is hard to stay motivated, with the dog giving you the “let’s just go outside and play for a bit” eyes. Or how about the PVR full of un-viewed episodes of Suits, just sitting there waiting for you to watch them. Not to mention your pool glistening in the sun, calling your name on a hot summer’s day. At the beginning, distractions come easily and they’re pretty much everywhere. Now all I do is think of all the stuff I want to do throughout the day and save it for my much-deserved break. I can still take Willson (our puppy) for a walk at lunch and even go for a swim with him afterwards, as long as I get back to working when my lunchtime is over.

Another problem work-from-homers run into is not taking a break or putting down your pen/ pencil/ keyboard when the workday is over. When you are in charge of your working hours, it is hard to tell yourself to get up and walk away, or to not sneak back in to your office before bed. My advice to you is: close the door to your office, turn off your laptop or computer – yes actually turn it off. Don’t click sleep or let the screen saver come on, just turn it off!

Staying on Track

Although there are a lot of ways to get distracted, having a schedule with a to-do-list on a daily basis is a great way to stay on track. If you have a list of 10 projects to get done that day, make sure you finish them before giving in to the refreshing swimming pool. Another way to stay on track is to have a different schedule depending on the forecast for the week. There is nothing wrong with doing 10 hours on a rainy day, to make up for a 5-hour workday on a sunny day. Having the flexibility to do this is one of the perks of working for yourself. Just a note, I’m using a 7-hour workday scenario, but not everyone has this schedule, so adjust it to your own needs.

WorkFromHomeLikeAPro

 

Another easy way to get distracted is with a messy, unorganized office. Having a super organized office with a super messy desk will do nothing for you. In order to clear your mind for thinking, keep your whole office clean: vacuum the floors, dust the shelves and your screen, throw out the trash and recycling on a regular basis and keep your desk clean and clear of any clutter.

Taking Breaks

When you are working in a creative field, sometimes you need to take a break in order to keep your creative juices flowing. There is nothing wrong with this. In fact a lot of creative industry-leading companies, for example Google, have gyms, arcade games, yoga studios and even nap nooks for their creative teams. I tend to get a lot of inspiration for my blog and design projects when I am in nature, going for a walk or in meditation at yoga. This is why I have a small water fountain in my office! It helps keep my mind clear and focused.

Here are the keys to working from home like a pro:

  • keep a schedule
  • make a to-do- list every morning
  • stay active, mentally, physically, emotionally
  • there is no harm in taking a 10 minute mental break, this will actually prevent you from wasting more time
  • keep your work-space clean and tidy

Let me know what your working from home pro tips are!

Dresses

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The Key to Having the Perfect Home Office

The Key to Having the Perfect Home Office

The Key to Having the Perfect Home Office

We moved almost 6 months ago, and since we are doing huge renovations (kitchen/ bathroom, repainting and relighting the entire house, etc.), we’ve basically been living out of boxes. This weekend we decided to tackle at least some of the boxes we have piled in our basement, so I set up my office upstairs.

Since the front room gets the most light all day long, I decided this would be the perfect place to set up my home office. I really would love to paint it eventually (sooner rather than later), but the colours will do for now. Since, I am easily distracted, but I’ve noticed with blogging, this doesn’t bother me. I tend to get lost in thought while looking out the window, and come up with all my subjects this way. This is why, instead of having my desk face the wall, I put it in the middle of the room, in front of the window.

Bringing the Outdoors In

If you are like me, nature calms you down and brings you to a zen-like state. Adding a plant shelf with a small water fountain on top is the perfect compromise for working inside, especially in the freezing cold winter. Light, transparent curtains cover the window for some privacy, but allow the light to shine through and the trees to stay visible, even from my desk.

Everyone has specific needs, so just because my office space is perfect for me, it doesn’t mean that it will be a perfect office for you. That being said, make a list of what would make up your dream office and work from there.

The best thing to do when you are creating your perfect office environment, is to ask yourself these 5 questions:

  • Do I need a quiet space or a busy space? If you need a busy space and your home office will be very quiet, you may want to consider working in a public space. A coffee shop or open working spaces might be the right choice for you.
  • How much room will I need for my office space? Do you have room to accommodate this? If not, think about renting a space to fit your needs.
  • Do I need a lot of natural light, or no natural light (if you are a photographer)?
  • What type of computer will I be using (Desktop, laptop, tablet)?
  • What hours will I be working (if you work a night shift a lot of small coffee shops will be closed before 11pm, so keep that in mind)?

Once you have answered these questions, you will have a better idea of what sort of office space you should be looking for or creating. Some people, like myself have the option of working in a variety of locations: home office, coffee shops, remotely (while on vacation), indoors and outdoors. I love the fact that I can literally work from anywhere as long as there is a power source near by and I can connect to the Internet at least once every few days.

So there you have it, how to choose an office environment and how to become a better work from homer!

 

Dresses

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9 Ways to Become a Better Known Freelancer

9 Ways to Become a Better Known Freelancer

9 Ways to Become a Better Known Freelancer

 

#1: Social media is your friend

Being a freelancer means you need to start networking. You won’t gain clients by hiding at your cottage with no wifi connection. Do you have people on your Facebook account that you don’t remember how you met? I think we all do. This isn’t always a bad thing and I’ll explain why!

If you set up a company page for your freelancing business, then you should invite all of your facebook friends to like this page, including the friends you don’t really consider friends. Why you ask? The more friends that like your page, the more their friends will see. This means they will potentially like your page also. Now that they liked your page they see your updates. Now, if you’re lucky, they will ask you for help on a project, which means $$ for you.

The more social media platforms you have and the more you post about your freelancing, the more potential clients you can gain. This means you should post about projects you’re working on, customer satisfaction, and more. Be sure to add photos to Instagram, posts to Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Behance and even updates on twitter and other social media sites.


#2: Business Cards aren’t in the past

Leave your business cards at the hair salon or barber, at the grocery store and even at the shopping mall. You may get no contacts, but you could gain many contacts as well. Remember to always keep your business cards in a card holder, because there is nothing worse than giving a potential client a ripped or bent business card, it doesn’t look professional at all. It is worth the $7 investment, believe me!


#3: Freelancing websites

There are some really great freelancing websites out there. Some include: Freelancer, Upwork, Localsolo and many more. Most of these sites let you sort through listings by verified payments and other options. Be sure to check off verified payment because there is nothing worse than doing 20 hours of work only to get scammed and not paid. There are thousands of freelancers using these sites, so don’t be discouraged if you aren’t getting chosen right away, just keep applying and eventually you will be picked! Once you get one contract, many more will come your way.


#4: Always have your portfolio ready

There’s nothing worse than getting asked to apply for a freelance job in a first-come-first-served basis when you need to submit a portfolio and you have nothing ready. My advice: use an online portfolio site, like Behance or even a WordPress.com website that you update on a weekly or monthly basis. This is one of my downfalls as well, usually blaming it on the lack of time I have. But you can always make time for 30 minutes in your week to work on it.

11082016-freelancing

#5: Be social

Seriously! Go out with your friends, join a soccer team, a social club like a book club or a yacht club, and meet new people. Tell them what you do, most people will say “oh I could use a graphic designer / interior designer / fill in the blank“. This is the best time to pull out your crisp business card and show them your contact information and website link. They won’t all end up calling you back. Although, I definitely got a few freelance jobs with this and even my full-time job by handing people a clean business card.


#6: Hire a web developer or design a website yourself

You will look much more professional if you have your own website. If you aren’t good with web design, then hire someone. There is nothing worse than an ugly, poorly designed or poorly organized website when you are trying to promote yourself. Most people won’t even go past the homepage if your website is not attractive, especially if you are a designer or stylist of any sort!


#7: Dress appropriately

Okay, maybe you won’t always be able to look your best, but even if you’re going to the grocery store try to make sure you look presentable. You never know who you’ll run into or when you’ll meet a potential client. You know the saying, “Dress like you’re going to run into your worst enemy.”, well it’s true. Even if you’re going to your kids soccer game, I’m not saying wear a dress-suit, just a clean pair of jeans and a nice shirt (no stains or tears). Most people won’t leave their house unless they look presentable anyways.


#8: Write down your goals

This is not for anyone else to see, it is just for you. After you are done writing your goals, put it up on the wall or somewhere on your desk, in your agenda, anywhere you will see it everyday. Your goals may change, that’s okay, modify them if need be, but make sure you know what your goals are. The only way to achieve your goals is to know what they are. This way you will know what steps you’ll need to take to achieve them. This should probably be #1, because it is so important.


#9: Be yourself, but never forget the clients vision

You may have a signature style, but your clients should always come first. This includes their wants and needs for the project. Never let your personality overshadow the client’s goal. If they want something fresh and modern, but you prefer using classic fonts and colours, put your preferences aside. Give them 3 designs, maybe one of them is more you and explain why this will work, but don’t forget about the other 2 designs. Remember, you only make money if the client is happy!

So with these steps you’ll be on your way to having an overbooked schedule! Good luck and happy freelancing!

Here are a few more ways to get a better work/ life balance

Dresses

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