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A Designer’s Manifesto

Okay so this particular manifesto isn’t going to be a forceful declaration or a statement of purpose.

It’s more like a set of priorities that I keep in the back of my mind every day to help make running my business as smooth a process as humanly possible.

1) A designer is only as good as her toolkit

Every freelancer and entrepreneurial go-getter has their own toolkit. It’s what we use to create – it’s the environment we curate in our home offices, and the templates and programs that let us put our unique spin on the world of design, or consulting, or education, or whatever.

My own toolkit starts with my physical workspace and extends into my digital realm, where the quality of my designs depend on using the best fonts, programs, graphics, and templates every day. Knowing what’s in my “toolkit” helps keep me on track, and allows me to hop into my workflow any time of the day knowing exactly what I need to finish the tasks at hand.

Wanna know what’s in my toolkit? You’re in luck! I already wrote a blog post about it here.

2) Trust your gut.

Some clients may not know what they want, but when they see it, they’ll know. Learn to lead your clients towards good design. Clueless clients can be some of the most frustrating, but also the most rewarding.

To increase my sense of intuition when it comes to new / clueless clients, I request that they put together a Pinterest board full of visual graphics and designs that they like the look of. That gives my “gut” food for thought, and reduces the total amount of “conscious” thought I need to put into the design process. It becomes a natural, fluid process, guided by my intuition and fed by visual stimuli that the client provides. 99% of the time, what feels right to me also is received best by the client.

3) Never be afraid to start over.

Starting over may make you feel like you’ve wasted your time, but try to think of it as an educational mistake. Remember, if you don’t choose to learn from your error, you’ll be forcing a client to pay for suboptimal work: not very professional. Moreover, starting over with a fresh perspective may just be the push you need to complete your best work yet. In fact, most of my best website designs were re-dos!

4) No matter what, communicate.

If you can’t start on something right away, tell the client when to expect it. No one likes a flaky designer. Providing timelines saves you from answering anxious e-mails and your client from a major headache. Taking the extra effort to send an informative e-mail can make the difference between a good relationship with a client and a great relationship, giving him the incentive to recommend you for more work.

5) Never check e-mail before bed.

Seriously, you will almost always lose sleep. If you’re frequently uncertain about tomorrow’s tasks, make it a part of your routine to review and edit your to-do list at the end of your work-day. Add additional urgent tasks to the list in the morning when you check your e-mail. Whatever your client needs, it can wait until the morning. Trust me: a well-rested designer designs best.

So now I gotta ask you… what’s in YOUR manifesto?

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