Finding your niche in design

Finding your niche in design

Fifteen years ago I decided that I wanted to get into Graphic & Web Design. Being in high school at the time I really didn't have a solid understanding of where that career path would lead me. I knew I wanted to be creative and basically design 'stuff'.

Fast forward to 2011 and a lot has changed in the design field. The term Graphic Design more or less has the same connotation but the field of Web Design has vastly changed. In fact, design has changed so much on the web that the term web design can mean many different things.

First let's break out what a Graphic Designer might do:

Site Update - New 'Our Work' design

It has been way too long since I've had time to update the site. I'm still trying to decide if that's a good or bad thing. Actually the more I think about it it's probably really bad. Sure.... on one hand I'm busy and don't have much time to write blog posts. But on the other hand that's no excuse. There is no reason why I can't take 15 minutes out of any given day to write a quick pos right?

That all said, today I've completed a massive overhaul to the 'Our Work' section of this site. I'm talking a new layout, CSS and 15 new projects. Yes that's right, 15! It's been a long time coming but I am now (more or less) up to date in this 'Our Work' section. Finally I am able to share what I have been up to for the past while.

Feel free to take a look. Feedback welcome!

5 simple things that help me focus on Web Design

When I'm sitting behind my Mac it's very easy to get distracted. Sometimes you need to get focused and zone in on the tasks at hand. Tune out the madness and focus on the project! This is how I do it.

  1. Turn Twitter OFF. Did you hear me? Turn Twitter OFF. It's okay, you'll live.
  2. Turn the lights off. Yes Seriously. I find I get much more work done when the lights are off and the only light in the room is my monitor.
  3. Put your 'Cell' Phone in the other room. Yep, it's a distraction if it even vibrates because you know you will check it.
  4. Grab a Beverage. Whether it's a latte, a coffee or a really good glass of wine. It helps me stay focused, makes me happy and puts me in a working mood.
  5. Get a great pair of noise cancelling headphones. I recently picked up these bad boys and I have to say that my productivity has increased immensely. 

What do you do to stay focused?

Be fast on the draw

Back in the days of the Wild West it was a common occurrence for two men to settle a confrontation by having a not so fun stand off. Of course the only way to come out the winner (and alive!) in that situation was to be quick, accurate and fast on the draw.

I often joke that the internet is much like the wild west. I mean there really are similarities. There are no rules. Celebrities, scams & bucket loads of money can be made through various avenues. Much like the wild west, the sky really is the limit.

10 things I've learned about running a Graphic & Web Design Business

So a year has gone by and I learned a thing or two about running my own business. If you're starting your own freelance design business there is a good chance you're going to encounter at least some of the following:

1. Be prepared to get a crash course in Administrative work.

Let's get this one out of the way right off the bat. A very large chunk of my time is spent writing and responding to emails, preparing quotes, writing documentation and dealing with the bills. You'll be diving into the world of spreadsheets and project management whether you like it or not. You're going to dislike it at times but you're also going to learn some ways to increase your admin productivity. If I could give you any advice, it would be to stay extra organized and on top of all the 'paper work'.

2. You're going to lose bids. (...and that's okay)

Communication + Content + Site Structure = Success

Nine times out of a ten when I'm working on a web site one of the hardest things to retrieve from a client is content. If you're a designer than you know exactly what I'm talking about. Often you can have a project 95% complete but you end up waiting a few extra weeks while you sit and stare at your 'Lorem Ipsum' text.

Over the years I've tried many different approaches when it comes to getting those glorious emails with Microsoft Word attachments. I've found some success along the way so let me share with you what simply seems to work for me.

Welcome to the new Hop Creative!

Well here we are. Look I have a blog and everything. That means I really have to start posting on a somewhat regular basis. Don't count on that but I am willing to give it a go.

Seriously though. Back in the summer of 2009 I designed a quick and dirty Hop Creative site using the ever so wonderful Wordpress platform. At the time it did the trick and it certainly still could. But this time around I opted to go all in with SquareSpace to develop something that's a little more ...well... me.