5 damaging habits designers need to break
By Tom May
We all laugh about our bad habits, the ones we swear to kick every time a New Year comes around… and then totally fail to. But although we make light of them, some habits and types of design thinking can be hugely damaging to our careers, reputation and ultimately our bank balances.
We asked designers to name the habits they’ve found the most difficult to quit, and here are the most common answers; plus what you can do to overcome them.
01. Poor file-naming
Edinburgh-based designer Duncan Crawford puts it simply. “Stop using the word ‘final’ in file naming… because it never is.”
Easy advice to take, you might think, but scores of leading designers have admitted to us in the past to poor file-naming practices, usually culminating in files entitled ‘final.jpg’, ‘final.final.jpg’, ‘final.final.final.jpg’, and so on.
And that’s not surprising. Because just as it’s no fun to do household chores when you could be playing Xbox, few of us relish the task of sitting down and coming up with a logical and workable system for naming our files, Photoshop layers and other assets.
Doing so will, though, save you time, effort and a good deal of frustration in the long run. It’s also vitally important in helping other people make sense of your work, be they colleagues, collaborators or clients, and in general making you look professional.
If you need help and guidance in getting more organised, we’d highly recommend Get Your Shit Together. This excellent resource from Justin McClure offers clear examples of how other creatives organise their assets and even allows you to download their folder structures, After Effects organisation scripts, and naming conventions.
Also make sure you read the 10 commandments of Photoshop etiquette.
02. Misjudging timescale
In the past, one of the most difficult habits Brighton-based graphic designer Nick Carter found to break was: “Underestimating the time and effort involved in a design project.” And he’s by no means alone.
Accurately estimating the time required to complete a project isn’t something that comes naturally to most of us, but is a skill that takes years of trial and error to master.
Designers commonly underestimate project time for various reasons, including over-optimism about their own abilities, eagerness to please a client, poorly written client agreements (leading to ‘scope creep’), and a failure to build in extra time for unknown or unpredictable factors, such as the inability of third-parties to deliver to your preferred schedule.
The key to breaking this habit lies in careful and methodical planning, based on proper research of all the variables. Ironically, our instincts can prompt us to rush or even bypass this stage, in order to “save time”, but that’s almost certainly a false economy over the long run.
Then it’s a matter of breaking …read more
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