A design to live in.
Last July 2014 myself and my husband bought a new (old) home that turned out to be a project. A mid terrace ex-corporation house in Dublin, it was a doer upper, a lot of work, time and patience would be needed for this one, and a head for problem solving.
Coming out the other end of it now (7 months later) having just moved in, I have come to realise that there are similarities in every design brief and project and the management of them. Whether it be a marketing campaign or the complete renovation of a house, the same principles apply. Some things I have learnt along the way (some too late!) were...
Research and plan
Try to look at every angle - who will use the end product, how will it be used, when will it be used. If you look at every angle from the start, when the project is finished it will work exactly as it should.
Work with an expert
If web development isn’t your forte, get an expert to work on this part with you. Similarly if you’re designing a house, work with an architect. It will make your final design more professional, efficient and functional.
Divide and conquer, sometimes this is the only way to efficiently get through the workload. I know at times in the last few months I looked at the myriad of pieces that needed to be completed and felt overwhelmed. The truth was, I couldn’t have done it on my own. Sometimes you need to work in a team, sometimes the project calls for it.
Taking on someone else’s work and having to strip it back to basics can be challenging and frustrating as you don’t know what lies beneath. The key here is to be flexible, think on your feet, be ready for surprises, even though you have planned and planned, things can catch you off guard.
I like to approach a new brief almost like it's a game of Tetris, moving the parts of it around and around until everything fits. Renovating/extending our house was like this. We had a family of 4, a house which really would only comfortably fit 2, and a very long garden. So we reconfigured the house, and added more space. This strategy has been successful with publications I have designed in the past.
Pick a palette and keep it simple
We used variations of grey and white as our base and when we get organised we will embellish with colour. We also kept the lines clean and uncluttered. This way we think our home will age well and it will be easy to change the small things down the line. This is true for graphic design as well …. we all know how popular 'feathering' was ...
The devil is in the detail
It’s the small things that make the difference, spelling mistakes and low resolution images never look great … and neither do cheap taps and old skirting boards.
Take a risk
Do something different, don’t play it safe the whole way through, if you take a risk on a design element it will really make it your own and also make it stand out from the crowd.
Make it flow
Make sure the final product has a good ‘flow’. Make it easy to read and easy to move through for the end user.
Take a break from the project. Come back to it with fresh eyes.
It has to be done, you’ve gone to all the effort to take it this far, don’t let it go out without doing a snag list. Proof it, colour check it, pass it around your colleagues until you’re sure it’s ok. Only then press the button to ‘approve' it’.
Look back to where you started
It feels good to see what you've accomplished.