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17 Web Design Trends 2019

New year, new time to think about web design trends.

The start of the year is a great time to look back on the previous year and your successes and look ahead to things that you want to improve and change.

And that goes for website design trends and techniques as well. Many elements that gained popularity in the later part of 2018 will continue to emerge as trends in 2019. These trending elements include everything to color choices, typography and text usage, voice and VR interfaces and everything UX.

There are so many great things happening in web design right now that it was tough to break it down, but we hope you’ll enjoy our look at the top 17 web design and UI trends for 2019.

Vibrant Color Palettes

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Bright color is everywhere. From gradient backgrounds to bright image overlays to animations that feature moving colors, vibrant color palettes will continue to gain popularity.

Even Pantone is getting in on the action by naming a bright hue – Living Coral – as color of the year. Although a scan of current designs shows that bright blues, such as Spotify or Secure Invest (above), might be the most popular choice.

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Many of these bright colors have evolved from other design trends. Brights first started gaining popularity with flat design, morphed into even more vibrant colors with Material Design, and now some of these hues even have a hint of neon in them.

The nice thing about this design trend is that color – once you have a palette – is pretty simple to deploy. You don’t have to completely redesign your website to add this trending element to the design.

Emotional Design

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You have to create a connection with users. That’s what emotional design is all about.

In 2019, websites and apps that don’t establish this emotional connection will get lost. According to Design Shack, emotional connections fall into four basic categories — joy and sadness, trust and disgust, fear and anger, and surprise and anticipation. Think about how your content falls into ones of these grouping and use color, imagery and the user interface to further connect on that level with users.

Every visual element in the design provides a cue to users about how they should react. The movement in the bike app, above, for example, shows motion; that makes the user want to ride along. The same is true of the example from Sprout – a smiling face creates a positive first interaction with users. The woman in the image is happy and users can feel and want to emulate that emotion.

Depth and Almost “Real” Design Elements

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While virtual reality isn’t truly accessible to everyone yet, its influences are already evident.

More designers are adding more depth and design elements that have a more real or tactical feel to them to projects. This includes everything from illustrations (and even animated illustrations) with a more three-dimensional look to moving shapes or products that users can seemingly reach out and touch.

As more designers use these techniques, they will become more of the norm and much more expected parts of the user experience. They will also start to look more real and less “VR-ish.”

Purposeful Animation

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Web an apps designs are packed with animation. But it has to be there for a reason.

Animation draws users to certain parts of the design, helps drive engagement or interest or tells a story. Use animation in web projects to provide a great depth of understanding to users who engage with the design. (Click through both examples above to see this animation in action … and think about how it engages your senses.)

Surreal Design and Abstract Design

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Web Design Trends 2019

Web Design Trends 2019

With the crazy world that we live in, more designers are creating projects that have more surreal and abstract elements in them. Surreal design and abstract design will continue to develop and grow as more users want these experiences that are almost, but not quite real.

The reason this design technique works goes back to the idea of emotional connection: Surreal design and abstract design provide a connection for users that they can relate to on their own terms. (Maybe because more surreal and abstract elements allow users to picture themselves inside the design?)

These projects are often exemplified by elements that have some animation, illustrated people or things and a somewhat playful or cartoonish nature that users want to be a part of. The goal of surreal and abstract design projects is to maintain a fresh style that keeps users engaged. (We think this trend works well and hope to see plenty of it in the coming year.)

Even More Voice

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“Google, play my favorite song.”

In 2019, you will have to design for conversational interfaces. With a rising number of people using smart devices in their homes, you’ll need to start thinking about ways your designs interact with these devices and how to create user experiences that fit the way people want to use websites.

The big change for designers is understanding how users will interact with voice commands and then prototyping the voice interface with keywords and related actions.

And it makes all the content on your website that much more important. Voice interfaces are rooted in “reading” websites for information and data. So text content matters a great deal. (This is quite a shift from more visual thinking.)

Single Page Design Makes a Comeback

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It wasn’t all that long ago that we proclaimed that the scroll was dead. (We missed the boat on that one, obviously.)

More designers will deploy single page designs with interesting scroll features and immersive storytelling to keep users engaged. Single-page design actually works better on mobile and smaller devices because users can get everything with trying to navigate the menu. And mobile users – likely the highest number of your website visitors – are accustomed to scrolling.

Don’t ignore this growing user pattern.

Flat Design Emulates 3D

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Three-dimensional renderings are providing an update to flat design. The result is a mash-up of 3D realistic and flat interfaces that are complex, visually interesting and showing up everywhere.

It’s like a touch of virtual reality in designs that don’t require anything special to look at.

When you look deeper into the trend, a lot of what make it work are depth in layers plus animation. (See how multiple design trends impact one another?)

Some people are starting to call this concept “deep flat.” But we just think it is a natural evolution of flat design.

Brutalism Goes a Little More Mainstream

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In the way that minimal designs have dominated web interfaces, brutalism is taking over. It’s the antithesis of all the bright-color designs. (You could say it is the yin to that yang.)

Brutalism is described like this by the Nielsen Norman Group: “Brutalism in digital design is a style that intentionally attempts to look raw, haphazard, or unadorned. It echoes early 1990s-style websites (think Craigslist and the Drudge Report). Sometimes this aspect of brutalism is expressed as bare-bones, almost naked HTML site with blue links and monochromatic Monospace text.”

And while few people would classify this design style as pretty, it does have a certain charm for some content types. And with a stark and bold style, it definitely makes an impact when you stumble on one of these designs.

More Gradients

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Gradients are the multipurpose color trend that work on pretty much any type of design. And that’s evident by how many projects are using them.

Gradients can add a fun burst of color to almost any design pattern, but are most commonly being featured in projects that might be a little “art poor.” Gradient backgrounds can be a fun way to break out text elements or highlight specific content, such as Train Body Brain (above top); for text elements such as Orion; or create an interesting background for a product placement, such as Mel.

The biggest shift in using gradients as a color trend in 2019, is that gradients are a featured technique paired with primarily bright color choices, whereas in 2018 gradients were more of a photo overlay tool. Now, this popular technique has room to stand on its own.

Vintage Typography/More Serifs

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One of the most refreshing design trends of 2019 is a shift to more vintage typography styles.

More serif typefaces, rounded slabs and text elements that seem to have an older feel. These vintage styles all seem to have bolder, thinker lines than some of the thinner sans serifs that have been popular in the last few years.

Even some well-known brands, such as Mailchimp (above) have shifted to this vintage typography style.

The biggest contributing factor to this design trend is better screen resolutions across all devices. It was once thought that sans serifs were the most readable on screens, but thanks to high def and high-res understanding serifs is not an issue.

Variable Fonts

More designers will use variable fonts in 2019 to make the web that much more readable across devices.

According to Google: “A variable font is a collection of master styles, with one central ‘default’ master (usually the Regular font style) and multiple registered “axes” which tie the central master to the other masters. For example, the Weight axis might connect a Light style master to the default style and through to the Bold style master. The individual styles that can be located along this axis are called instances.”

While the concept behind OpenType variable fonts might still be a little intimidating to some, they are starting to become more mainstream. They are made for responsive design and can help projects look more complete on different screen sizes.

Variable fonts provide all the flexibility you have always wished for.

Three variable fonts to try:

Focus on Data Visualization

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Everywhere you look, someone seems to have an infographic as part of the design.

Data visualizations are a more interesting and understandable way to presenting complex information to users. This visual format for everything from numbers to maps to understanding complex algorithms, is loved by users. It can help people understand content and works in a number of ways – as a still image, in scrolling panels, as an animation or interactive game.

The way to make it work most effectively is to turn your data into a story. Create a beginning, middle and end so that users follow the journey of information to complete understanding that hopefully results in longer time on site and higher conversion rates.

Writing for UX

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All good design has some element of messaging in the form of text. With users demanding authentic web experiences, there’s a growing focus on writing for UX.

All of the copy on websites will be designed to help users better engage and connect with the product or service. The days of the hard sell are gone and content that useful and practical will rule the day.

Good UX writing is useful and respectful of the user. (Seems pretty simple, right?)

UX writing is so important because you don’t have a lot of space, time or words to tell your story. So, every sentence has to lead to a goal and user outcome that people want to read. (Seems a little more complicated, huh?)

Split Screen Design Keeps Growing

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You might be catching on to a theme here – website designs need to fit mobile users. That’s why split screen patterns keep emerging.

The split screen aesthetic – where a desktop screen is broken into two panels of content that collapses into vertical content blocks on smaller devices – is an approachable way to design content that works across devices with a fairly seamless UX.

While many of these designs started featuring side-by-side “screens” that looked similar, more designs are shifting to asymmetrical splits for content. This can create more hierarchy in the design for desktop users, with the larger item having greater importance. (It is assumed for mobile users because the item on top is perceived as being more important.)

Mobile Animation

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While designers have shied away from animation on mobile versions of websites, there’s a movement to include animations.

Video is still a concern – particularly for iPhone users, which doesn’t render video on websites well – but timed animations are growing steadily in popularity. You might even start to see more scroll animations on mobile as a shift back to mobile-first thinking starts to take hold.

Remembering that most of your website visits are coming from mobile devices, why wouldn’t you design for these users first?

More Text (Seriously!)

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Would you be surprised if 2019 went down as the year of text?

From stacked headlines with plenty of words to designs with all and few images, there’s a shift to text as a featured element. With the right typography, this trend can look amazing and provide a great deal of information to users quickly. Without good typography, it can fall flat and be disastrous.

The easiest way to get started with more text-heavy designs is to use a double- or triple-stacked headline on the homepage. You get more room for messaging. The adjustment here is that text sizes are often much smaller than some of the oversized fonts that have been popular. Keep in mind that multiple lines of text at a smaller size can actually have the same weight as fewer words in a larger font.

The trick to making more text work for design projects is that it needs to be valuable text. Users need to want to read the words. So, plan the design carefully. (Don’t just write a lot for the sake of writing; make every word count.)


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7 Principles of Successful Email Marketing

When it comes to email marketing, there are a few things that make a big difference. Email marketing can be an indispensable investment.

However, that’s only when emails are well-designed, and campaigns are well thought out.

Let’s see exactly what will help you make the most of the next email campaign you’ll be working on.

1. Readability and Scalability

It’s no secret that attention spans are short, especially when it comes to the digital world. That’s why the best emails are easy to digest and easy to read. Visual design factors can help or hinder the reading experience and influence the success of a campaign.

Contrast between text and the background, the size of the fonts and even the messiness of the overall design are important considerations.

7 Principles of Successful Email MarketingBelow is an example from Sonos. Although the visual design isn’t too bad, readability is a different story. There’s a lack of differentiation between the smaller headings and the body copy. It’s hard to distinguish one from the other so the text appears similar and becomes overwhelming. This situation discourages reading and makes scanning this email more difficult than it needs to be.

7 Principles of Successful Email MarketingOn the other hand, is one of Apple’s emails. It has a good flow, larger text and easily distinguishable copy between links, headings and the body. This email uses large images to divide sections. The copy is concise. Yes, this is a long email, but because it’s been designed for readability, the length doesn’t pose a problem. The overall design makes it comfortable to scan and to read.

2. Stick to the Promise

Are emails fulfilling their purpose and promise? There are multiple ways this can be done wrong. If I sign up for a newsletter or a free download and get a bunch of uncalled for promotions, a promise is broken. There is nothing wrong with upselling or promoting, but overdoing is distasteful and can hurt conversion rates.

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7 Principles of Successful Email MarketingBelow is a follow-up email from Return Path. As the context suggests, it’s sent to a subscriber who hasn’t been opening emails for a while. Either the subscriber wants to keep getting emails or not, as indicated by giant buttons. There is a small pitch at the bottom, but it doesn’t take away from the purpose of the email.

7 Principles of Successful Email MarketingNext, we have an abandoned cart follow up email from ASICS. This email is all over the place; it’s messy and unfocused. There is small, website-like navigation at the top, a picture of a random woman next to a singled out cart item, and then remaining cart items with awkward context, two separate CTAs to either shop more or check out and additional suggested items. There are too many distractions. The action for the user is not obvious here.

3. Use Subjects and Previews Wisely

Make sure you customize email subject and preview lines! This is important. I made a mistake when I first set up my newsletter where the email subject was the name of my website, not the title of the blog post (1).

7 Principles of Successful Email MarketingThen I tried to put the description of the blog post as the preview text. That didn’t work too well for me either (2). Next, I figured out how to get the email’s subject to be the title of the blog post but still messed up the preview line (3). As you can see, none of these examples are great.

7 Principles of Successful Email MarketingIt’s best when the subject and preview text are different because those little bits of information give a lot of insight. They help get a subscriber interested enough to open an email. If it’s messed up like my failed examples, your open email rates will suffer.

4. Personalization and Sequencing

Personalize the email experience. It’s things like using a person’s name here and there. But, take it a step further. If you think of it from a UX point of view, it makes more sense to create email sequences/drips within campaigns. That’s because these acknowledge what subscribers already know.

Use sequencing and drip emails to send targeted and specialized emails that speak more accurately to the subscriber. Knowing if someone has bought your stuff before or downloaded freebies (and what they were) deserves an entirely different email than someone who has just subscribed versus someone who has been a subscriber for a long time but hasn’t taken any action.

7 Principles of Successful Email MarketingCreate a flow chart of all the emails and their corresponding sequences. This will make campaigns more effective. The beauty of email marketing is that automation makes it easy to reuse sequences or drips. It’s an investment in time and effort, but it will pay off in significantly higher conversion rates and metrics.

5. Get in Touch

When it comes to emails, I’ve noticed how rare it is for me to easily reply to the sender. It’s something individuals and companies of all sizes lack. The worst thing I see is emails that start with “[email protected]….” I’m baffled by this. It’s rude. It’s a missed opportunity from a business standpoint.

I love Mel Robbins to death, and I can empathize with the fact she has a tiny team while her most recent campaign, The Mindset Reset, received hundreds of thousands of subscribers. But having the first link in the email’s footer to go to the FAQ is a bit impersonal.

7 Principles of Successful Email MarketingFor as long as I remember, Paul Jarvis has replied to newsletter emails. Depending on the email, he outright asked subscribers to reply directly. He’s a king when it comes to successful email marketing campaigns; it’s at the core of his business.

7 Principles of Successful Email MarketingWhen I ran an email marketing campaign for Mobile Design Book, we asked our subscribers to reply with feedback or to specific questions. And they did, very often too – that’s what the above screenshot shows. This helped us drive higher engagement throughout the campaign and, in the end, increased sales.

6. Mobile Optimization

It’s crucial to have a flexible email template that works on desktop apps as well as mobile ones. Default templates from most email marketing services, such as MailChimp or ConvertKit, are mobile-friendly. However, if you’re designing a custom one, make sure it’s responsive. Test the design to make sure it works in apps from Gmail to Outlook. Test the design on different devices as well.

Save some time by using analytics tools to see precise device and platform break downs for subscribers. This way, you don’t have to test every possible option.

Custom Designs Made Easier

If you tend to design custom emails often, use a tool like Postcards. It’s a simple drag and drop builder that’s highly customizable for branding and functionality. Postcards design components are optimized for desktop and mobile emails automatically.

7 Principles of Successful Email MarketingI recommend checking out a couple of tutorials here on Designmodo. One is for coding a custom and responsive email template with HTML and CSS. The other is on creating a custom responsive email template using Postcards.

7. Testing, Testing, Testing

The last piece of advice I have is to test your emails. No matter what. Everybody and their mother, myself included, have a handful of email marketing strategies that work. These tips and tricks are great best practice principles. What will get the best results for your emails and campaigns can only be determined through testing different strategies.

7 Principles of Successful Email MarketingTesting ideas are easy and accessible through just about all major email marketing services including Postcards, MailChimp or ConvertKit.


Email marketing is growing in popularity. After all, it’s an effective marketing tool. The seven principles outlined in this post will help you make sure you start on the right foot when it comes to designing an email or email marketing campaign.


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Design News Featured How to

7 habits of great storytelling

“The most powerful person in the world is the story teller. The storyteller sets the vision, values and agenda of an entire generation that is to come” — Steve Jobs

7 habits of great storytelling


When I meet people at social gatherings and I’m asked what I do for a living, my response is: “I’m a storyteller.” It makes for a way better conversation than leading with “product management in a B2B SaaS company.” Truly, product managers and user experience designers are storytellers. We constantly need to be telling stories when communicating with everyone. We tell:

  • Stories to engineers to build an amazing product.
  • Stories to marketing to broadcast a captivating message to prospects.
  • Stories to customers to inspire them to achieve great things.
  • Stories to the executives and board to justify the ROI of our product investment, and the list goes on…

Being a good storyteller is why some product managers, marketers, and designers make the leap from Good to Great… and others don’t.


Let’s become great storytellers

7 habits of great storytelling

Emma Coats tweeted a series of basic storytelling tips while she was at Pixar. They became known as “Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling.” She shared the valuable lessons from arguably the greatest storytellers of our generation, Pixar.

Emma’s learnings from her days at Pixar inspired me to reflect on mine as a product person, and a storyteller. In the past couple of decades of building software, I’ve told many poorly structured stories and have learned to tell good ones. I’ve seen how a good story by a product manager results in a happy customer, and no story becomes a feature no one uses.


Here I’ve digested the relevant rules Emma presented, and reinterpreted them as:


Seven habits of great storytelling for product managers & UX designers — Inspired by Pixar


1. Without a purpose there is no story

We apply techniques like user stories, scenario narrations, storyboards, andjourney maps. We paint a good picture of what happens as the user interacts with a particular product functionality. However, we often prescribe what should be built or how to use it — and neglect the underlying purpose.

What is the underlying message in the story? Like Clayton Christensen says, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.” Ask yourself, am I prescribing the characteristics of the drill? Or explaining how the user drills the hole? Instead of articulating why the user needed a hole in the wall?

Before we start writing, we need to know why we are telling the story and what the purpose of the story is. In Emma’s words:

Rule #14 — Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.

7 habits of great storytelling

2. Make me care

In a good story, empathy and admiration are born from the drama of seeing someone struggle in the face of difficult odds. Without sharing the drama the main character (our end users) is facing, the audience (engineers) don’t empathize with them enough to go the extra mile and solve their problem.Emma reminds us of how much we love a good underdog story:

Rule #1 — You admire a character for trying, more than for their successes.

7 habits of great storytelling

3. A hero to root for

Everyone wants a hero to root for. Give me a reason why I should care for the hero of our story to get her job done. Why should I root for her success? What happens if she can’t get her job done using our product?

You may have great templates to document user and buyer personas, even have their first names and what the colour of their eyes are! Unfortunately that’s just a lame character in a boring story. If customer success is the end goal, what makes you care for this character as you read their persona?

What will the hero of the story lose if she is not able to overcome the obstacles to get her job done? Will they lose their job? Will the project fail and they will lose millions? Emma goes further and suggests we stack the odds against her as we author her story:

7 habits of great storytellingRule #16 — What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

4. A credible storyline

Each scene in the story needs to be credible. We’ve all heard stories that have an overwhelming amount of unbelievable nonsense, and we’ve stopped caring for the hero.

We lose our audiences when our stories lack credibility — what the user’s objective is, what’s at stake, and how they can overcome obstacles. Instead of getting engineers to build out the acceptance criteria laid out for them, get them to root for the hero instead.

Rule #15 — If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

7 habits of great storytelling

5. Impactful story structure

Every story has a start, middle, and an ending. A good story delivers the middle in a well-defined structure. Similar to a good speech, telling the story of a product capability is more impactful with a Tell-Show-Tell structure: First you Tell them what’s about to unfold, tell them you understand your user and what the user needs and wants to get done. Then you Show them how it happens. And finally to wrap up, you Tell them why they should care. What’s at stake if the job doesn’t get done.

Tell-Show-Tell method is commonly used for pre-sales demonstrations. It’s also applicable in product management and UX design. To elevate this method to Pixar level, we can apply Emma’s suggestion, which is Kenn Adam’s Story Spine structure:

Rule #4 — Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

7 habits of great storytellingKhan Academy video on this topic

This structure is brilliant! For someone to buy and adopt your product, the pain of status quo needs to be greater than the pain of change. In the structure above, “every day” is status quo, “one day” is the event that tips the balance, series of “because of that” statements are the benefits they gain by switching to your product, and “until finally” is the expansion play. This format is just great!

6. What’s innovative about your story?

Who wants to hear the same story told, yet again, by yet another software vendor? What’s different about yours? You may be solving for the same “happily ever after” ending, but how does your story unfold differently? Emma’s advice is to not be afraid of throwing the first however-many iterations out, and starting from scratch till you nail it:

Rule #12 — Discount the first thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th — get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

7 habits of great storytelling

7. Begin with the end in mind

Rule #7 — Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

Emma nails it in Rule #7: “Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.” It’s hard to know how to measure success after everything is set and done. Feature is built, shipped, and released… now what? What was YOUR Objective? What are the expected Key Results? Begin with the end in mind.

This approach creates a sounding board for us to reassess the validity of our decisions as change appears and we are forced to iterate our story and adjust the scope.

Break away from the habit of writing user stories and bulleted list of acceptance criteria. Stop demoing features and listing benefit statements. Tell a good story, and you’ll end up with a passionate team who works on product your customers Love.

7 habits of great storytelling

I’m working on a Part II for this post with examples of both good and bad stories to make these concept more practical. Meanwhile, comment below and share your stories with me.

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32 Poster Design Tips

32 Poster Design Tips

Leading illustrators and designers give you useful advice on how to create beautiful posters for sale or clients – from composition to creative process and colour palette.

Poster Design Tips

1. Inspiration is everywhere. I love Matisse and Calder. Classic poster designs like those by Saul Bass and the Swiss school are inevitable inspirations.

One of my favourites from the region is Igor Hofbauer, with his wonderful, twisted, comic-like concert posters.

Monika Lang (Serbia)

Poster Design Tips

2. Sketching with a pencil is the most spontaneous and quickest way for me to capture an idea. Also, when you browse through your old sketchbook after a while, you can always find something forgotten, begging to be developed further and implemented.

Monika Lang (Serbia)

Poster Design Tips

3. A necessary first step is to undertake serious research, consideration of ideas and concept drawings. Also, the choice of a suitable colour palette for the topic is an essential part of the work.

Sometimes I use digital collage, and in that case I need to collate various elements, which will find their place in the poster.

Monika Lang (Serbia)

Poster Design Tips

4. I try to keep the message very simple. Sometimes I ask people without an design background about their opinion to double check.

Poster Design Tips

5. For clients work I start with an sketch or an mockup and try to keep things clear, but in my personal artworks I mostly start with an rough idea and sometimes I draw shapes and patterns to build an library to play with.If I feel I have enough material to work with, I start to do a couples of quick explorations to see which composition works best. By choosing my favuorite exploration I work step by step more into the detail. At the end I work on colours, contrast and cleaning up the file until it feels right.

Daniel Treindl (AT)

Poster Design Tips

6. Even if the elements are not perfectly drawn, a good layout and composition can be very powerful and make the poster very interesting.

Daniel Treindl (AT)

Poster Design Tips

7. Make the things you want to see and put them up around places yourself. Collaborate with your friends – and your favourite bars and clubs.

Lucy Sherston (UK)

Poster Design Tips

8. Posters are such an accessible art form and have a direct purpose.

People come into contact with posters in their visual landscape everyday, and I think they can influence the viewer without them realising it as they blend into their everyday life.

Lucy Sherston (UK)

Poster Design Tips

9. I generally start with the information or the text that I’ve got to include, and then begin to play around with how I can lay this out to fit in all the information. Then I’ll begin making a list of relevant visual ideas that would sit well alongside the text. I do loads of thumbnails and rough sketches in my sketchbook to establish a rough composition.

Lucy Sherston (UK)

Poster Design Tips

10. I always use hand drawn text – so I’ll look through reference material to establish what sort of lettering will be appropriate. Then I’ll scan that in and begin working with it in Photoshop. I have a folder of hand drawn and paper textures so I’ll begin to combine these elements. The rest happens quite organically, seeing what has worked and adjusting things on Photoshop accordingly.

Lucy Sherston (UK)

Poster Design Tips

11. I’m inspired by how forms fit together and how to create a balance between the minimal and the detailed – between composition and information. I’m really inspired by artists who have their fingers in many pies, and keep pushing the boundaries of their own work.

In terms of posters, I love Sister Mary Corita‘s hopeful and bold designs, and how they so beautifully marry shape and text and are so full of positivity.

Lucy Sherston (UK)

Poster Design Tips

12. I get to look at lots of beautiful magazines. I found the last issue of The Gourmand really inspiring in terms of graphic design (and obviously all the beautiful and interesting content).

Lucy Sherston (UK)

Poster Design Tips

13. I normally have two sketchbooks on the go: one to unload my brain into and one to refine any of those ‘brain unload’ ideas if they’re any good. I’m also a big Pinterest fan and constantly find inspiration on there.

Lucy Sherston (UK)

Poster Design Tips

14. Posters are probably my favourite format because of their sheer size and their final use. They need to be seen on the street and they need to make a big impact. The main challenges of poster design relate to how the poster will interact with its display environment. You have to keep reminding yourself of that and try to visualise your design out of your cosy studio and on, say, a busy street.

Veroncia Fuerte (ES)

Poster Design Tips

15. Another challenge is the way you design all the content. When a poster has visual elements and text, they can often have different functions that need to work alongside each other.

Veroncia Fuerte (ES)

Poster Design Tips

16. Start by sketching out your ideas. The concept needs to get it noticed. So work that out in rough first of all so you can explore and develop your ideas as much as possible.

Getting the sense of scale and balance right on a poster is also very important. If everything has the same weight it all blends together so nothing actually stands out and the poster won’t have any impact. The balance between graphics and text is important here.

Veroncia Fuerte (ES)

Poster Design Tips

17. Printing your design at full scale is also very helpful. You can hang it up and see how it works from further away. It’s easy to misjudge how something will look in the real world when it has been designed on a screen on a very small scale.

Veroncia Fuerte (ES)

Poster Design Tips

18. Explore a lot of different options before choosing the best one. Try, try again and keep trying until you find the one that works best. Surprisingly, small changes in the composition can result in big differences in the end so you just have to keep working at it.

Veroncia Fuerte (ES)

Poster Design Tips

19. The Film Commission Chile was created to promote Chile as a movie production destination. The FCCh visual identity is inspired by duct/gaffer tape. The tape is omnipresent in the world of movie production – tapes unite, join, mark, hold, point, remind and help people to work. Due to its flexibility, the lines and shape of the tape resemble the classic movie celluloid film.

The variations in the colour palette represent the diversity of landscapes we can find in the Chilean territory.

Veroncia Fuerte (ES)

Poster Design Tips

20. Decide what you want to be seen first. After that proportions and work on the composition. Colors are quite important too, depending the environment the poster will live. Dark place? Maybe try to use more contrast. Light place, street for example, you have more freedom. After this break all of it and experiment new things !

Marta Veludo (NL)

Poster Design Tips

21. I worked in a nice project for the Frenchfourch label for the Paris Graphic Design Festival, where I needed to create a poster that would be printed in silkscreen and travel around the world. I decided to make about love and fighting.

It was more technical challenging than anything else, but I had so much fun doing it.

Marta Veludo (NL)

Poster Design Tips

22. Design a lot of posters – and practice! Try, fail, try again. Find new ways of communicate and mostly focus in an environment where you would like to develop them.

Marta Veludo (NL)

Poster Design Tips

23. Posters are almost like hieroglyphs – both a graphic and semantic language. The poster almost always is a metaphor – and almost always this is two things that are compared to each other.

Ivan Velichko (RU)

Poster Design Tips

24. You’re working with meaning and for. Create the most exciting meaning as possible and the most strange and unpredictable form as possible. \

Ivan Velichko (RU)

Poster Design Tips

25. As Marshall McLuhan said, “the medium is the message”. Very often it happens that the shape is itself the content of that thing you do.

Ivan Velichko (RU)

Poster Design Tips

26. Whilst I’m working on the final piece, I’m always trying out ideas as I go – changing up colours and shifting things around and adding elements to see if it improves the design.

Ian Jepson (ZA)

Poster Design Tips

27. I always start with super rough thumbnails, that’s something that has stuck with me since college. If a layout works on a small scale, it’s going to work on a large scale. Once I’ve got a few ideas I’ll try them as rough sketches to see what works best and make a decision on a direction.

From there I’ll do a clean sketch over the rough, and then finally ink and colour the design. This is mostly done digitally, drawn on my Wacom Cintiq.

Ian Jepson (ZA)

Poster Design Tips

28. There has to be a hierarchy of information that designers must pay attention to: the title/band name, the venue, the date, the support acts etc – it all needs to be balanced and clearly readable without distracting from the overall design. Of course, tying that all together is making sure you have a strong concept executed in a visual striking way that captures the the vibe of whatever it is you’re trying to promote.

Ian Jepson (ZA)

Poster Design Tips

29. One of the most striking things that I really like about posters are the limitations. You can do whatever you want inside that space, and even if it sounds odd, the limitations are part of that freedom.

Very often those limitations are my own. I want to work with a restricted colour palette, or just one font. So I need to push the design to the forefront.

Horatio Lorente (AR)

Poster Design Tips

30. The priority is to define how the actual message is going to work – what are you going to say, which is the first important element that you’re going to read or see? Is the illustration or image the main component of the message, or the typography?

Horatio Lorente (AR)

Poster Design Tips

31. Working with a simple grid is very useful to arrange elements and give importance to the content. Remember: Less noise; more space; simple geometric shapes and typography. The most important thing is to make an impact and to achieve the main goal: to deliver the message.

Horatio Lorente (AR)

32 Poster Design Tips

32. Sometimes a single spot colour can make a difference and turn a dull and boring design into something interesting.

Horatio Lorente (AR)

32 Poster Design Tips


Article Via: DigitalArts

Design News Featured

As a Designer, I Refuse to Call People Users

As a Designer, I Refuse to Call People Users

I’ve worked in UX for the better part of a decade. From now on, I plan to remove the word “user” and any associated terms—like “UX” and “user experience”—from my vocabulary. It’ll take time. I’ll start by trying to avoid using them in conversations at work. I’ll erase them from my LinkedIn profile. I’ll find new ways to describe my job when making small talk. I will experiment and look for something better.

I don’t have any strong alternatives to offer right now, but I’m confident I’ll find some. I think of it as a challenge. The U-words are everywhere in tech, but they no longer reflect my values or my approach to design and technology. I can either keep using language I disagree with, or I can begin to search for what’s next. I choose to search.

Inproduct design, “user” and the other U-words have been foundational to defining the relationship between humans and tech. The former uses. The latter is used.

But labeling people as users strips them of complexity. It reduces humans to a single behavior, effectively supporting a view of people as more like robots whose sole function is to use a product or feature. This is a poor ethos for building ethical technology. If we maintain such a narrow and flattening view as a cornerstone of our discipline, I fear we’ll make little progress toward evolving design to meet the pressing needs of a changing world.

As terms, I find the U-words unethical and outdated.

The relationship these words describe is no longer accurate. Long ago, the line between operator and tech was much more clearly drawn. Now? Not so much. Yes, when you open an application on your phone you intend to make use of it, but the past few years have taught us that the application intends to make use of you too. Incidents at Facebook and other high-profile tech companies have made it clear that use is a two-way street.

Simply put, the U-words have their origin in a more sanguine, naïve era. As terms, I find them unethical and outdated, and so I have doubts they can usher in the kind of improvements to technology we desperately need.

The term UX design began its rise to industry-standard ubiquity in 2009. And I believe we should regularly question and examine the terminology we use to make sure new terms have not been diluted or changed meanings. We haven’t been doing this, and as a result, the U-words have come to mean things I now find unrecognizable.

As A Designer, I Refuse To Call People UsersUX design took off as a term near the beginning of 2009. Screenshot from Google Trends

In an email from General Assembly, UX design was defined as a way to “create products and experiences that solve customers’ problems” so that “brands can keep those customers coming back.”

UX means solving a customer’s problem so they keep coming back for more? This is a narrow and dark definition of what good design can do, and it concerns me that it’s being used in an email that recruits prospective students to a training program promising to launch them into successful careers in tech.

As A Designer, I Refuse To Call People UsersAn excerpt from a General Assembly email about user experience and design. Screenshot: Adam Lefton

When I think of my career, the first associations I have with UX and the user are almost inseparable from usability and deeply rooted in the static web. Before the internet of things, caring about the user experience meant caring about the way a person interacted with, and found information on, simple websites.

It’s 2019, and nothing is simple anymore. So many of our interactions occur through screens and devices, and the use of these new technologies at scale has had unforeseen consequences in the social, political, and emotional arenas of our lives.

The fact that people use something doesn’t always make it good. It may have been a productive measure when websites were relatively uncomplicated repositories of information, but in a world where people feel increasingly burdened by their device usage and dependency, and our most widely-used technologies have been turned against us, we can no longer consider something so basic as “use” a sign of success. It’s too low a bar to set.

Inthe design world, the user occupies a pedestal. We hold users in high regard. We care about our users. We want good things to happen for them, and so we make it all about them, going as far as to make the user our namesake. We work in user experience design organizations. We call ourselves UX designers. We parcel out development tasks into “user stories.”

So do we care? Can we care if we’re constantly referring to people with language presaging a relationship that by our own account only goes well when they keep coming back again and again, sometimes to their own detriment? A contradiction like this demands that we take a closer look at these words.

Saying “user” strips a person of their circumstances… it eliminates context and reduces people to a single act.

“User” has always had other, much more odious connotations outside our industry. Calling someone a drug user, for example, is different from saying someone has a drug problem. By saying “user,” one implies that a good deal of the responsibility for a drug dependency belongs to the person with the dependency. It suggests this use is an act of autonomy—something they do, something within their control—when in fact we know that drug dependencies aren’t anything like that and can result from complex socioeconomic and mental health circumstances. Saying “user” strips a person of their circumstances, of every influence in their life, of history—it eliminates context and reduces people to a single act.

Imagine a world where everyone operates as if this is a strong foundation for building technology that billions of people rely on to run their day-to-day lives and improve the world around them. That’s what we have right now.

Others have already written eloquently on how design needs to stop focusing on how products work in isolated user situations and begin considering how innovation can and should work on a society level. I don’t think we know yet what this looks like in practice, and certainly not at scale, but one thing I do know is that the U-words can’t fly from the masts of this new ship. They are far too uninspiring.

Even though the U-words dominate so much of my industry, without them, I’m still a designer and writer. Without them, I’m still a problem solver and thinker. I’m still a person who wants to build things that provide value in the lives of other human beings. If anything, I think my shift in language will make me better at my job.

Without the U-words, I can start the hard work of redefining how I think about design. I can have tough conversations. I can start to develop frameworks that move beyond use and toward deeper measures of success, like productivity, happiness, and well-being. I can begin to do better.

I’m hopeful we all can.


by Adam Lefton

Design News Featured

7 tips to design faster by José Torre

7 tips to design faster by José Torre

Spoiler alert! It’s not about having the best hardware, drinking a cocktail of red bull & coffee or knowing all the shortcuts of your favourite design tools (although this last one won’t hurt you).

In this article I’ll share 7 tips that I believe help me to design fast, and I hope can help you too. To make this a bit more meaningful I’ll also share a real world experience that helps to illustrate these tips in action.
But first let’s understand why do you need to be fast in the first place.


Designers often want time. Time to get inspired, think, explore, brainstorm, meditate, check dribbble, scroll a couple articles on medium but only look at the pictures and read the titles… you get it, it’s all part of the creative process.
As a designer I can’t really argue with that.

However, in the real world, more often than not you’ll find yourself in a situation where you need to deliver something yesterday, and in such situations you just have to deliver.
Next to that lives the “fact” that, when you have a relaxed deadline you’ll probably waste most of the time looking for “inspiration”, leaving you in a position where you have to sprint to deliver something.
Basically, whether you have a tight deadline or you just want to procrastinate, being fast will only help.

You’re not in a rush? You don’t procrastinate?

First of all… 👏 GOOD 👏 FOR 👏 YOU!
However, being fast is not only handy when you have to deal with tough deadlines, it can also help you stand out as a designer.

As you might already know, designing is an iterative process, you try again and again until you get to the best solution. If you’re fast, you can try more things, understand what doesn’t work, improve it and potentially you’ll get to an even better solution.
You can also go the extra mile and deliver more than what is expected, blowing away your client or boss. Moreover, when you do more you don’t just improve your chances of coming up with something great, you also improve yourself, because practice does make perfect. There’s no such a thing as talent, you get good at something by doing it over and over, and the more you do it, the better you become at it.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the tips.

1. Define your goal

When you’re in a rush it’s tempting to jump into “design mode”, however that approach might actually slow you down. I rather take some time in the beggining to reflect and think what I want to accomplish before I start, because then, when I actually start I have a clear target.

Not defining a goal is the same as if you go practice shooting with your eyes closed. You might hit something but it’s way easier to do so if you can see your target.

This shouldn’t take you ages though, don’t use it as another excuse to not get started.

2. Don’t wait for inspiration

There’s no such a thing as a “creative block”, you might not be able to design great things all the time but you can design something, just get to it.

If you’re aiming for quality you might be waiting for that strike of genius to strike, and you think that is not wasting time because in the end it’s all worth it, right? After all, quality is better than quantity, am-i-right? NOPE, this is just a fallacy.

While you’re waiting for the muse to show up, someone else could have put down idea after idea, maybe not so great ideas in the beginning but through the power of iteration, this person can keep on improving, maybe a crappy idea then becomes something nice if you take just a slightly different angle and in the end they will have a better result than someone that was waiting for that one brilliant idea to show up, which might not even work in reality.

This story/experiment from the book Art & Fear illustrates this point really nicely. TLDR version: A teacher announced to his class that they were going to be divided in 2 groups, one would be evaluated solely based on quality, the other on quantity. When it came to evaluating the work, the ones of highest quality came from the group that was going to be graded based on quantity.

This means that quantity leads to quality, so instead of waiting for the best idea to fall from the sky, 👏 JUST 👏 GET 👏 STARTED.
This leads me to the next step.

3. Sketch, sketch, SKETCH!

Independently of the problem I have to solve, I always like to start with sketching. It’s one of the most efficient ways to put abstract ideas into something tangible and see if they can work.
It costs you very little time you’re not invested or attached to these ideas yet, which makes it easier to throw them away if you need to.

It might sound counter productive, because if you want to be fast, “doodling” might sound like a step in between you and the final thing, but it’s not, because you just don’t know what the final thing is yet. You’re experimenting, so you better do it in a way that is fast and inexpensive.

4. Share your progress

I’m a firm believer that is best to share your work sooner rather than later. You’ll get other perspectives and you might just get the feedback that you need to take your idea to the next level.

You might also realise that your idea doesn’t work or get a suggestion that means you have to throw away everything you did so far, if that’s the case, you rather do it early in the process, when your investment was minimal and you’re less attached to the work.

Another advantage of sharing the work is dividing the sense of ownership with others, for instance, if you’re working in a team and you share your work with colleagues, when you go to a design critique it’s more likely that they’ll back you up, and help you sell the idea.

5. Listen

Sharing doesn’t mean anything if you don’t listen to the feedback that others will give you. Make sure to listen what people have to say and then decide whether or not it’s something that you need to take into account.

When you’re designing it’s really easy to get lost on your ideas, it’s also easy to discard ideas that come from people, that might have less expertise in the subject than you. However, I believe it’s important to remember that you’re not designing for yourself, you’re designing for others, so you can never rely solely on your own opinion.

With that said, you’re the expert, listening doesn’t mean that you have to blindly execute whatever others suggest, it just means that you don’t ignore it. You take it to heart, you detatch your ego from your design and really try to see wether or not it makes sense to do something about it.

6. Design in stages

If you want to move fast, you can’t spend time in details when you don’t even know if the base idea works, you need focus on what is important. That’s why I like to break things in stages, so I can have check-points where I can share something and see if it makes sense to move to the next fase.

These will very much depend on what you’re trying to do, but here’s a very loose guideline:

Stage 1. The general idea — This can be a very rough sketch that illustrates your logo; a couple wireframes that show an interaction flow; or some keyframes that show what the animation is going to be, as I said, it really depends on what is the task at hand, but usually the sketch is always a good starting point.
Stage 2. Expanding the idea — This is basically when you do a rough version of what your idea can become, but don’t worry about details. Back to the previous examples, this can be your logo with a couple applications; a very rough prototype; or an animatic.
Stage 3. Finalising — This is when you’re close to be done, and you start crafting your logo using proper grids and golden ratio; you make a higher fidelity prototype; or the final animation.

This won’t just help you focus, it will also help others look at your work and give feedback adequate to the stage that it is in, for instance, you’ll avoid getting comments about color when you’re just trying to see if the general idea works.

In short, it’s never a good idea to do something from top to bottom and then share it, because you’ll spend time on details, you’ll get attached and you might realise that is was all for nothing.
Optimise your time and focus on the right thing at the right moment.

7. Take breaks

This is another one that might sound a bit odd, but the moment you take a break and step back from the problem might just be the time where the solution occurs to you.
This happens for the same reason why the best ideas come to you when you’re in the shower or exercising, there’s actually a proper scientific explanation for this but I’ll just dive straight into my (dumb) version.
The fact that you stop actively trying to solve a problem gives a break to your brain and you let it “run” in the background. Subconsciously, you’re making a series of insightful connections and without even realising — DING— an idea pops in your head.

This means that taking a break not only allows you to make some awkward conversation next to the coffee machine, it gives you energy and gives your brain time to digest things and to come up with new solutions.

In short…

Optimise your time, so you can invest in the right thing at the right time. Don’t design in isolation, step away from your design and get other perspectives, this will only help you move faster, even if it sometimes means that you have to start from scratch. See the bright side, the sooner you realise that, the better.

Meanwhile, in the real world…

Back in July 2016 I was pulled into a project that needed some help, won’t go too much in detail why, what you need to know is that I had a single week to design an on-boarding for this app and, funny coincidence, this happen to be a week where I had to travel to Amsterdam (I was based in London at the time), which automatically means spending time in traveling, more meetings and “catch-ups”, thus less time to sit down and actually make something.

My starting point.

Luckily, I didn’t had to design EVERYTHING. Before I was pulled in to this project the design & marketing teams had already settled on what we wanted to communicate and roughly how many screens we would need for that, which left me to focus only on the illustrations and story.

So I started by…

(1) Defining my goal

I established what I wanted these illustrations to accomplish, which was basically the following:

1 — In some way, they need to match the message/copy (duh!).
2 — They should follow a logical and continuous flow.
3 — If users don’t read the text and only look at the visuals they still get the message (as much as possible).
4 — As a whole, they should tell a meaningful story related with the app.

Given the nature of these (a series of screens that you’d see one after the other), I thought it would be a good idea to take advantage of that and tell a short story, making them feel like a logical sequence rather than just a series of miscellaneous illustrations. I figured this would help the user to understand and retain what we’re trying to communicate a bit better, since a story is easier to remember than a list of features.

After this…

(2&3) I didn’t wait for inspiration, I jumped straight into sketching.

After knowing what my goal was I started making some really crappy sketches. In the beginning I rather focus on the idea rather than style. Once I find an idea that I think might work, then I start to refine it a bit further and see if it still holds up, only then I start to think about moving to the computer.

3 sketching stages of the first illustration

My approach was to create the 5 illustrations and see how they could work together, first with something VERY rough and eventually working it up to a more refined sketch.

By the end of the morning I had all 5 screens at the level of the third sketch above and at this point I could have gone straight into illustrator to make all the illustrations, but I decided to…

(4) Share it

Loose sketch of the complete flow.

After roughly defining the illustrations, I put them together with the copy to get a better feel of the flow. After sharing with the team everyone seemed happy with the story/flow and we agreed this was a good direction so I proceeded. By the way, I didn’t book a meeting for this, I just shared it directly with some key people and asked for feedback, because I know that getting into a meeting at this point in the process will just generate unecessary discussions.

As you can see, I was…

(6) Designing is stages

First stage was the story, which was at this point completed, the next two were the illustration style and the transitions between screens.

Since the story for the illustration was basically settled, I started to explore how the final illustration style could look like. For that I focused in just a single illustration, so I could get the sense for the final style before I spent time doing the rest.

This really helped to optimise my time, because I could define the style more quickly if I only had to worry about one illustration, and I wouldn’t have to tweak five illustrations if the style I defined had to change.

When I made the sketches I already had something in mind that could fit with our brand, which helped to move things along a bit faster, this was my first proposal:

First proposal for the illustration style.

I wanted the illustration to seem friendly and uncomplicated, with focus on the character and objects in the foreground, leaving the background a bit more stylised, low contrast. The color pallete was inspired by a video campaign we had at that point in time.

After sharing it once again I had some feedbback that I though deserved to be addressed, so…

(5) I listened

And this was the result

First iteration of the illustration style.

What changed? We concluded that we needed to change the character a bit, in order to make it loosely match one that was used in an introduction video of another app. We also decided to make the overall color pallete reflect a bit better the colors the user will encounters in the app.

After these adjustments I thought I was close enough to advance to the next stage so I decided to make the rest of the illustrations.

Then, I shared it once again with some colleagues and decided to try a few more variations in the color palette, landing on the next version, with a slightly more saturated background that better matched our brand colour at the time, and also brought a bit more life to the screen.

Through the refinement process, I didn’t just change colours though, there was a lot of small refinements and adjustments from the first “final” style to the actual final illustrations. One example below shows some of the changes.

Little things that take a lot of time.

Our character ended up with a slimmer body, more hair and a face make-over. We also added a little steam to the coffee icon. ☕️
Note that some of these tiny things actually came out when I was sharing this with other people. When you’re deep in the process sometimes is difficult to step back and see what can be improved, that’s why I think sharing and listen to others is key.

There’s one more thing left to mention, because during this week I was traveling and had a few meetings I couldn’t skip, I was “forced” to…

(7) Take breaks

This was sometimes annoying because I felt it broke my flow, but on the bright side it gave me perspective. Looking back I think some of those breaks were actually helpefull because I was “forced” to talk about something else, taking my mind completely out of what I was doing. Which meant that when I got back into it I found things that I could improve that I didn’t notice before I left the computer.

Have some left-over time? Use it!

You might think that I was done just there, but because I managed to move things forward quite quickly I had some time left to dedicate to the last thing on my list, transitions. Since these were a sequence of illustrations, I wanted to define how each illustration would transitions to the other.

I know that what was expected was just a simple carousel, I could just not bother and go with that, but if I have time, why would I do that?
This was something that I actually had in mind since the beginning, so I made sure to consider it when I made the illustrations.

I made them with a clear background and foreground, also made sure the horizon would always line up, this would allow me to have a parallax effect when transition from one screen to the other, making the sequence seem even more integrated and a bit more pleasing to the eye.

To communicate this more clearly to the engineers I created a very simple prototype with principle.

Principle prototype

Looking back, and after almost 3 years it’s easy to see what works and what doesn’t, but regardless I think this is a good example how you can move quickly with something as simples as a sketch.
In this project, it allowed me to communicate with all the stakeholders, get feedback and iterate without wasting much time.
Moreover, it shows the importance of sharing and listening to the people you work with, to make better things together.

The actual implementation.

Ideally, I would have liked to have a bit more time to try a few different directions in the beginning, and to nail down some details in the illustrations, however, I can’t say I’m not happy with the result, we managed to make something that met our goal on time.

That was a long one, so if you made it this far, you deserve…

One extra tip…

My extra tip is to time-box your “search for inspiration” time.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe it’s super important to see how others solved a similar problem, because you don’t need to reinvent the wheel with every design problem you have to solve. However, you most likely do this everyday, you know what is out there, you know the trends.

So, set a time limit and after that GET GOING!


by José Torre

Design News Featured How to

4 Ways To Stand Out From The Crowd: How Designers Can Become Popular

How many designers are out there?

According to BLS, there were almost 270,000 graphic designers – employed – in the US alone. How about freelancers and other types of designers?

On LinkedIn job stats, there are almost 3 million people who have “designer” in their profile description. However, anyone can put a “designer” tag in their profile. I’m sure my unemployed friend who constantly criticizes the Mickey Mouse t-shirt I love is somewhere among them.

Yet, global design platform Behance rejoiced on reaching 10,000,000 members in 2017, and in the same year Dribbble welcomed more designers than it did during 6 previous years.

So, how many designers are out there? A lot, and a lot more to come.

Now how many of them are standing out?

To make this question not rhetorical – how many of them have more followers than they follow themselves? How many of them have more than 1,000 followers?

In my last article, I asked successful designers how to be unique while standing out. In this article, I’ll try to cover how to stand out while staying unique.

Use Platform-Specific Tricks

There are many platforms that you can feature your work on: Behance, Dribbble, Instagram…

You can say that they are all pretty much the same – you upload your work and count your likes. However, the devil is in the detail. Every platform has a unique set of features that make certain efforts more efficient. I’ll mention a few.


4 Ways To Stand Out From The Crowd: How Designers Can Become PopularIn my opinion, two distinct features of Behance are curated sections and collaborations.

Curated Sections

On Behance, there are curators who go through thousands of projects every day and decide which ones to feature in every one of 60 different categories. What does that mean for you?

You have a chance, even if not a particularly popular designer, of getting featured in one of these and instantly attract a lot of attention to your work. Sounds too good to be true? Probably, because getting featured is darned hard.

There are hundreds of established professionals on Behance with a great following base, so their work will always attract the attention of many people, and, consequently, curators.

So what do you do? You pivot. You niche. Or you buzz.

  • Pivot: if everyone is drawing elephants, try going for a mouse. The hardest part about pivoting is not drawing mice, it’s finding elephants. More on that in the later sections.
  • Niche: some Behance categories, such as illustration and graphic design, are overpopulated. Others, such as [made via] After Effects, have lower competition. Thus, they are easier to get into.
  • Buzz: work with big brands. Big names always attract attention. Work for free, if you need to, just to get your name out there. More on that later in the article.


One thing I like about Behance is that you can have multiple owners for a project.

4 Ways To Stand Out From The Crowd: How Designers Can Become Popular

Project on behance

When a project has multiple owners, it is shown in the feed of every one of them. Such projects get the attention of all the followers of the people involved, and, consequently, more often end up in the curated section.

If you plan to do a collaboration, make it a worthwhile experience for all the designers involved – have approximately the same number of followers to have equal benefits in the pack and make sure that your collaboration will actually produce something interesting to the people. If you can’t offer followers, offer something else – money, time or organizational skills.

Just remember, Behance is a project-oriented platform. You never upload a single shot from your work – there has to be a whole visual story to every post you make. If you post anything, make sure it includes sketches, added materials, alternates, etc. Make sure you work tells a story. Ideally, make sure that your whole profile tells a story. All the projects you upload should be somehow connected, otherwise curators might think you’re fishing for their attention and testing their algorithms.

Also, I’ve noticed that on Behance most projects that get featured are real-world projects, there’s not much fooling around with test concepts and fun ideas.

If you want to fool around & experiment, I know just the place.


4 Ways To Stand Out From The Crowd: How Designers Can Become PopularDribbble is all about single shots. You post just one piece of your work, and that’s it. It changes the whole approach on how you behave on the platform.

First of all, your shot should be catchy. A few tips here:

  • Animation: Dribbble supports .gif and, recently, video formats. Animation always intrigues, and people like to know where it goes. In order to watch full animation, they click on your shots.
  • Vibrant colors: unfortunately, as all great marketers do, Dribbble designers exploit basic human nature to spot unusual things around us. Thus, bold colors will inevitably attract more attention than neutral tones. However, if everyone is using them, the opposite happens. Remember about spotting elephants.

All in all, designers on Dribbble tend to experiment more than on Behance. Half-baked concepts, unrealistic color combinations, and overloaded animations could be inappropriate in real-world projects, but here? It’s a wild west of ideas, and you can easily be the one to find gold.

There are no curators on Dribbble, so you attract the attention of your fellow designers and bystanders. Every shot you upload starts in the “Recent” section. If your shot is popular and gets upvoted, you will end up in the “Popular” section on the main page. There are not many rules here, so you are free to experiment with whatever works. Your profile can be a collection of completely opposite projects, yet stay relevant at the same time.

Tip: consider regular posting if you want to end up in the “Trending” section of the platform.


I’ve seen many designers having profiles on Instagram, uploading their shots there parallel to uploading on Dribbble or Behance.

As for me, Instagram is the worst choice for a designer, because other platforms give you access to a design community and to people who are deliberately looking for someone to hire. However, that is where Instagram differs from design-oriented platforms: the audience.

Your work will be judged not by designers, but by ordinary people. Their design standards and overall awareness in the field is lower, so the only binary you’ll be judged with is “I like it”, or “I don’t like it”. I wouldn’t expect bystanders to appreciate 30 hours spent on kerning two letters in a 3-letter logo.

On a bright side, it’s easier to stand out among legions of booty queens and travel bloggers with your work, especially if you’re in illustration. I wouldn’t expect UX mockups to generate a lot of aws, but who knows. You just need to find your audience.

A few tips, specific for Instagram:


A big part of the network. If you find popular and niche tags, you may attract attention to your work.

Tip: browse semi-popular designers (not those who have millions of followers) and try using in your posts the tags they use. Better yet, come up with tags that are hot and connected to your work, yet not too overpopulated.

Perhaps the most flexible promotional engine you can find anywhere, and it’s connected directly to Facebook ads. Unlimited potential, but requires a lot of expertise in Facebook and social marketing to make it work. I wouldn’t expect miracles here.

Strong marketing community

Many marketers employ Instagram as a selling platform for their products, so there are tons of materials on how to promote yourself there. Back following, giveaways, stories, influencers… Whatever works these days and is not banned, yet can be used if you’re willing to spend some time learning the craft.

That’s it for the tips. Take your time and learn the platform you’re going to use most often and utilize its hidden gems. Dribbble meetups, groups on Behance, Instagram analytics… I’d recommend focusing on one platform at a time – read success stories, try and fail, then try again, then give up, then watch Rocky movies, then don’t give up… You know the drill.

Identify Design Trends

Whatever you do, trends are there. Building trend awareness is equally important whether you’re going to follow trends, disrupt them, or even ignore them.

To spot design trends:

  • Analyze Dribbble top pages and Behance best section daily
  • Follow prominent designers in your field
  • Read popular design publications and authors

Analyze Dribbble top pages and Behance best section daily

I wouldn’t expect to catch all the trends in one day, so you should do the reconnaissance for some time. If you’re serious about design, you’re already doing it. Just start thinking more analytically about it.

Let’s look at the Dribbble “This Past Month” top shots:

Most of the shots here (actually, all of them) are made by popular designers on this platform. These people follow trends or create them. Their work will generate a lot of likes no matter what, but there’s still much to learn from here:

– What are the similarities between different designers?
– Is the shot as popular as other work of this designer?
– Are there any designers with a smaller following that made it to this section?
– Is there anything new any of these designers tried or did they keep their shots similar to the past ones?

Add “why” to every one of these questions. Add 10 more questions. Also look at the “top of the week” section. Repeat on Behance. Repeat weekly. That should give you some trend awareness.

Follow prominent designers in your field

Not all designers are on the platforms you utilize. Some of them tweet a lot, others blog. Find them, follow them, research their work and their insights.

Don’t just focus on the design field exclusively. Explore fashion, tech, culture, photography. The more versatile you are, the more resourceful you are. More on it in the “Merge trends” section below.

Utilize Trends

After you’ve built trend awareness, there are all sorts of things you can do, such as:

  • Follow trends
  • Disrupt trends
  • Merge trends

Follow trends

If you’re going to do what everyone else does, at least be the best at it. Or one step ahead.

We’ve been drawing icons for a long time and every major design update or trend, such as Apple’s switch from skeuomorph to flat design, or Android’s surge in popularity, affected our work.

We weren’t reinventing the wheel, we were drawing icons in popular styles. But people appreciated the quality of our work, and that got us pretty far.

We took it one step further, though. We took in requests for new icons, we developed many features on our website and built a whole community around our products. So can you.

If you spot that illustration in UIs is becoming trendy, don’t just make a nice illustration. Explore different UIs, create variations, take what someone prominent did and push it a bit forward. Do it every time, and someone will notice.

Disrupt trends

When you follow trends, you draw icons like this: [gentle color styles were quite popular at the time and even more popular nowadays]

4 Ways To Stand Out From The Crowd: How Designers Can Become Popular

Project on Dribbble

Naturally, you get many likes. These icons are balm for the soul.

When you disrupt trends, you do everything in reverse. Many colors? How about one. Bright violet. Let’s add forbidden gradient for good measure.

4 Ways To Stand Out From The Crowd: How Designers Can Become Popular

Project on Dribbble

If you’re lucky, double the likes.

Merge trends

You can merge trends from different disciplines. In the photography, hipster and realism are still holding the reins.

However, graphic design in 2018 was heavily influenced by colorful minimalism – remember top dribble shots.

What would happen if you merge minimalism and photography?

4 Ways To Stand Out From The Crowd: How Designers Can Become Popular

Both photos are part of Icons8 “Moose” Photo Stock

You get #1 spot for a target search. And #2 as well.

Offer Expertise


Some designers may think that they need to be “popular” to make tutorials, but all you really need is to be good at something.

One of Icons8’s designers, Rita, made two niche tutorials on Skillshare: How to make Pixel Perfect Icons, and Animated Icons Transitions. She didn’t have thousands of followers, she was just really good at these things, because she did them every day.

Now she has almost 2,000 students that enrolled in these courses. She built the following from her expertise, and a Dribbble link in her mentor profile allows people to find more about her projects and follow her there.

Find what you’re good at and share your expertise with other people. Even if doesn’t bring you millions of followers, teaching is a very rewarding experience in itself. Give it a try. Making these tutorials free or not is up to you, both options have their pros and cons.

Note: it’s not just about teaching platforms. There are a lot of ways to give people value: YouTube and blog comments, Quora answers, Reddit discussions, live classes… It’s a mindset of sharing rather than the method that is most rewarding in the long run.

Tip: find top-ranking Google articles in your field of expertise that constantly generate traffic from Google, e.g. search “how to draw a logo”, and leave your expert opinion in the comments. Don’t be pushy, though, your contact information should be in your profile, not your comment.

Free work / Non-profit

I’ve seen many times this advice for designers: do not work for free. Most of the times, it is true.

Some crafty clients can offer you work for exposure, and think that this may be enough to light a twinkle in your eyes.

Even if you do banners for the next Olympics and billions of people will see them, it means nothing if you can’t share it with the world.

However, if you can…

Take the project. Work your ass off and then post the story on Behance. Big names, big clients, and big collaborations will almost always attract hefty attention.

Same goes for non-profits. There are so many famous non-profits, research funds and social organizations there that could use a good designer. Reach out to them, offer specific help (better yet, come ofrward with sketches and mockups) and make sure you bring real value. All you ask in return is the ability to feature your work on social media and design platforms. Such work will have a greater chance to be noticed than the paid projects for unknown e-commerce companies.


Another way to share your expertise (and demonstrate it at the same time) is to give interviews. It goes without saying: if someone is reaching out to you with a question I see no valid reason to deny it.

Recently I reached out to 10 different designers with one question – What was the most unexpected thing you discovered in your profession/field?

Five designers replied. I wrote an article, and it got featured by CommArts, one of the oldest design publications out there:

So I did it again. 10 other designers, one question. This time six of them replied. It got featured again:

Of course, one twitter mention will not change your fate and spawn unicorns in your bathroom. But what if next time the article is picked up by Huffpost (I wish)? Or goes viral? And that was just one guy asking you one question.

But don’t wait for someone like me to write you, especially when you’re hard to find (I searched for my designers on the Dribbble “Trending” section”). Write an article yourself. Many online publications accept guest posts (including ours), especially coming from field masters.


It happens that in our time, being “a good designer” or even “a great one” is not enough to stand out. One must also learn to attract attention to one’s work.

I hope you find the tips mentioned in this articles useful and a good starting point for your promotional efforts. If you have some tips or questions, make sure to leave a comment. Good luck!


Article Via: Icons8

Design News

Microsoft Redesigns Office App Icons

Microsoft Redesigns Office App Icons

Changes in the digital world are happening rapidly and every industry is affected. That is why great companies keep up with trends, so they don’t become part of the past.

Microsoft revealed new, modern Office App Icons. But did they preserve the authenticity of the globally known brand?

Microsoft Redesigns Office App Icons

Office Icons – What’s New?

Trends require new ways of doing things, especially when it comes to brand image.

The history of Office includes designers that have been cautious with change, and they took care with this redesign. The goal was to keep icons recognizable to over a billion users across the globe while adding lighter and bolder colors. These changes to the Office icons are the first in 5 years since Microsoft updated productivity suite logos.

Apps that represent the new branding are Microsoft Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive, OneNote, SharePoint, Teams, Yammer and Skype. 

We now have bolder colors, combined with a different structure of the icon itself. Icons consist of two panels – one with the letter and the other is sort of a background that provides depth and 3D context.

Two things Microsoft accomplished with the redesign

If we look closer, these icons are speaking a modern language, but they have kept something that is truly important for every brand with tradition: familiarity. If you combine it with simplicity, then you can be sure you won’t scare loyal users.

Microsoft Redesigns Office App Icons

Microsoft has implemented both into new Office icons, which is moving in the right direction.

Office is no longer just a line of apps that you download and use on your PC; today it is a cloud-based subscription service that works on numerous platforms. That’s why this redesign is a natural part of the evolution of Office apps.

Originally Published: