You can read through any instructional book to learn the basic principles of design. Whether it’s grid theory or the Golden Ratio, some rules are taught from the very beginning. However, not everything designers should be comfortable with can be found in a book. Design has unwritten rules that you’ll want to familiarize yourself with so that you don’t have to learn the hard way!
Below are 10 unwritten rules of design every aspiring designer should know.
1. Discover what the client wants. It’s easy to get excited over certain projects and take them under your wing, but what the client wants is most important. A thorough discussion is helpful in saving time and edits.
2. The client is always right. While your client may welcome some of your insight, there are other areas where they may not back down. Even if you’re on the cutting edge of something magnificent, your client knows their audience best.
3. Agree on the outcome. Though your client is “right”, they should still compensate you accordingly. Before taking on any project, discuss the outcomes that you both expect.
4. Start on paper. Many creative professionals agree that a computer can be limiting. Instead of being distracted by which typeface to use, take initial brainstorming to a simple pad of paper.
5. Return with fresh eyes. When you look at something too long, it’s difficult to be objective. Let your imagination run wild on paper, but when it comes to making final decisions, return after a good night’s rest.
6. Unhappy? Start over. It’s amazing how some designers continue to work with the same idea for sake of not wanting to start over. If you don’t like something, save yourself the time and headache and wipe the slate clean.
7. Test your designs. Designs have to work on all types of platforms for a positive user experience. Test your designs across all media such as paper, web and mobile.
8. Recognize when it’s time to stop. Anyone can look at a design and keep making changes. But, this wastes time and overcomplicates the design. When you’re about finished, take out unnecessary details to keep things legible, clear and refined.
9. Break up the phases. It’s helpful to tackle your design projects in organized stages. This helps track your progress and keeps you on task without feeling overwhelmed. Once you go through the process a few times, you’ll have a better idea of future timelines.
10. Learn to take criticism. Criticism is never fun when you’ve poured your heart and soul into a piece of work, but you need thick skin in this industry. Look at the criticisms objectively. What can you learn?
You won’t find these unwritten rules of design in your design book or instructional course, but they’re important ones to remember. As you branch out further, you’ll find your niche and be able to pass down your wisdom to a new generation of designers.
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