Get Behind Your Design

Day in and day out, you work. While there is some variation in what that comes your way, most projects are eerily similar.

So how do you keep your stuff from blending together like a bunch of synchronized swimmers?

You have to find a way to stand behind your design. Yep- you are a reflection of the work you do. You and your work are one in the same; the success of one means the success of the other. But it’s only you at the worktable. There’s nobody holding your hand, telling you how great you are, and that this is your best work yet. You have to be the cheerleader on the sidelines, and the star player on the field at the very same time. And you can’t do that without realizing that your goal is to win the game.

Ask the Right Question

Ask yourself why you’re working on the project in the first place. (Why are you playing? To WIN.) When you’ve got a full plate, it’s easy to let the “why” slip between the cracks, and before you know it you’ve lost track of it altogether. That’s when it’s easiest to treat this project like every other one you’ve done in recent history and check it off your list. You’ll regret just going through the motions in two years when you look at your portfolio. You’ll have yourself a good cry because there will be ten of the exact same projects staring back at you.

Revisit the client’s needs and wants. List ‘em out if you have to. What is the reason this project exists?

Through Their Eyes

We like to imagine a project from the client’s point of view. If this were our project, what would make it better than we ever thought possible? What would make us think “Man, they really nailed this!”? You beat your opponents by anticipating their next move. Thinking like your clients not only helps you go above and beyond what’s expected of you, it helps tap into a mindset that gives each project its own personality. You might even imagine the project taking on the physical voice of the client. (Better not tell people this, though… talking in funny voices when you think no one is listening usually leads to blackmail videos…)

A Universal Solution

You don’t get to see “universal” and “solution” in the same sentence very often. But in this case- it works!

Are you a designer? A copywriter? A project manager? It doesn’t matter, because focusing on the “why” applies to creatives across the board.

A designer determines how to tackle a design by first picturing the finish line. If the webpage she’s creating is supposed to be corporate, she’ll likely use clean lines, “important” colors, a classic typeface. But if it’s supposed to be for a younger audience, it might be okay to stretch the boundaries by having images push off the screen, use a more contemporary typeface, and brighter colors. But she won’t accomplish the goal without first asking why the design is being created in the first place.

For a copywriter, it’s more important to actually hear a voice when you’re writing. But whose voice? Asking why the copy is being written will help him decide. If it’s corporate content he’s writing, maybe one of the district attorneys from Law and Order is behind the scenes. More playful? Sounds like a job for the voice of “Wendy” from the Wendy’s fast food commercials.

You catch our drift.

So next time you think you’re having deja vu, snap out of it. This project has all the potential in the world to take on a (adventurous? scandalous? exciting? daring? boring?) life of its own- if you just ask yourself why it exists in the first place.

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