Designers are often tasked with creating unique and engaging interfaces for websites, blogs, apps, and print media like flyers and banners. While a lot of work goes into designing a professional interface or work of digital art, being prepared before starting a design job can save you hours of work and frustration. Read on to discover how to prepare for your new design job and ensure success from the minute you begin work.
1. Choose Your General Layout
While you don’t need to plan every detail of your design in advance, it’s a good idea to get a general concept of how you want to the design to look before getting started. This could include a full wireframe or simply a pen-and-paper sketch of the interface or media you’re designing.
If you’re designing a website you should decide at this stage whether you’ll use a vertical or horizontal layout and how many columns you want to appear on each page. This is also a good time to determine menu placement.
2. Find The Best Color Palettes
Choosing a color scheme can be difficult, but using pre-matched color palettes makes the task a lot easier. You can use design websites and utilities to find the HTML color codes for various handpicked color schemes that may look good on your project. Adobe, the developer of Photoshop, has a handy, free tool for this on the Adobe Color CC website.
3. Create a Prototype or Mockup
Once you’ve got the general layout for your site sketched out then you should prepare your design work further by creating a working prototype or mockup. There are plenty of tools to help with this task including Proto.io which has a free trial for designers. Taking the time to complete this step while preparing for your design project can help you realize which design pathways and options you want to commit to before you invest too much of your time in more detailed work.
4. Prepare Your Design Toolkit
Perhaps the most important step in preparing for your design job is making sure that you’ve got the right tools from the start. Many designers use Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe InDesign, but there are free and open-source alternatives if you’re designing on a budget. GIMP is a great tool to add to your design tool collection if you’re not a current subscriber to Photoshop.
5. Check the Latest CSS Guidelines
It’s a good idea to brush up on the latest CSS tricks, tips, and general design guidelines if you’re designing for the web. Developers and designers often share these tips through design blogs and educational sites like CSS-Tricks.
6. Form Your Workspace
You should prepare your workspace for your next design project once you’ve decided on which tools you’ll use for the job. This includes everything from which operating system you’ll be running to whether or not you’ll need a virtual machine or extra RAM for resource-intensive design software.
7. Download Some Design Resources
You can save a lot of time on your design project if you prepare your machine with some pre-designed textures, graphics, and vector images. Check out websites like Vecteezy and Freepik. You can use these texture and graphics for the backgrounds of your designs or even to fill in buttons and other undesired whitespace on your site.
8. Setup Your Hosting Environment
Having a good web host is a must if you’re working on design projects. This will make it easier to upload and store your designs online, share them others, and run them live on any websites for which you’re responsible. Look for VPS hosting so that you can feel confident your designs are secure from others and only get shared with your intended audience. VPS hosting also offers the benefit of fast load times for media-rich designs and professional website layouts.
9. Test Your Designs
Once you’ve got your designs fully wireframed or have created some mockups, you’ll want to use your web hosting to test them on real or virtual devices. Designing with responsive methods can help your site look great on any device but the layout will vary between screen sizes. Use an online tool like MobileTest can show you what your designs will look like on a variety of common devices.
10. Prepare A Way to Share Your Designs
You’ll want to prepare a way to share your designs before finishing your design project so that you don’t have to wait on feedback before making changes to the draft-stages of your work. You can use your web hosting to create private or public links to your design work or, if you’re only sharing your work with a few people or a small design team, try a design collaboration tool like Wake.
Getting your workspace ready with all the tools and design resources you might need before starting work will reduce stress during your design process. Select the right tools for the job and make sure your machine is ready with a compatible operating system and adequate system resources like RAM. Download some extra tools for testing and sharing your work with others before getting started so you don’t have to wait on software installation when you’re ready to share rough drafts or final versions of your design work.