10 Habits That Help You Design Twice as Fast

By on Sep 7, 2016 in How To
10 Habits That Help You Design Twice as Fast

In this time and age where speed is a priority for many industries, it's important to teach yourself how to be fast and steady. There are hundreds of designers today. To stand out from the rest, you need to learn to design fast, maintain good work ethic, and produce great output.

Why is becoming a fast designer important today? The simple, truthful answer is this: time is money. Your employer or client needs your quality design as fast as possible. A key point of every product discussion with a prospective client is budget planning. This means money, and then time. When you can deliver that design faster, it saves your employer or client money. When you learn how to speed things up the right way, you will be more valued and sought-after.

Think about this: if you ask for $400 to design a website logo and can finish the project in a day, you get that $400 right away. But if you can design five logos in a day, you can earn $2,000! This is why many designers work freelance.

Speed and Quality

There's a big difference between fast output and a rushed output. A fast design is a product of working quickly without sacrificing the quality and integrity of your output. A rushed design is made by working hurriedly to meet the deadline, which often results in a crappy end product.

Learning how to design fast is understanding that the quality of the design is still the top priority. A valued, sought-after designer is optimal because he is both excellent and fast. This is what you should aim for.

How to Become a Fast Designer

Fast DesignerPin It

1. Understand the distinction between an "artist" and a "commercial designer.”

Most artists — designers included — take the time to create something amazing. And that's fine, even expected. But more often than not, tapping your “artist’s soul” only applies to your personal work. If your 9 to 5 job is as a designer, your final product is more of an output rather than art. You need to acknowledge that you're a professional with the skills to match a specific rate per hour. You also have to take into account that your client has a budget. Doing your job in a manner that turns you productive, and doing your job in a manner that satisfies your art are usually two different things.

2. Have a clear vision of the design in your head.

Before doing the actual work, you're afforded a phase where you speak with your client about the brief and goal of the design. Sometimes, it may take days - even weeks - from the first conversation until you start the actual design. Take the time in between to think about your design - how you want the end product to look like and how you can execute your plan. The image should be clear in your mind by this stage so when you sit down to design, all you're actually doing is putting the steps together. It’s more about creation rather than ideation. When you have a clear vision of the design, you’ll certainly design faster.

3. Set a schedule and stick to it.

Set a schedulePin It

These days, there are countless distractions and temptations stealing your time and effort. You get constant emails and messages about other projects, updates on your various social media profiles, meetings, errands, and so on. Becoming a fast designer means learning how to guard your time. If you have to inform your co-worker not to disturb you for idle chats until you finish your work, then do so. Disable your Facebook notifications. If possible, turn off your phone. To avoid an extended lunch break outside, bring a packed lunch.

There are different strategies to assist you in protecting your time so you can finish your work. Make a workable plan on how you can focus on the job at hand. But remember, the strategies are secondary. The key is for you to recognize that your time can be easily squandered. At times, others will waste your time, but most likely, it's you who actually does the wasting. If you really want to be a fast designer, you need to make an effort to be one. And that means staying away from time-consuming interruptions.

4. Set a time budget before starting a new project.

Before doing any sketch or design, create a time budget. When you consider the time you have for a new project, it will greatly impact the way you approach your work. Be smart when making design choices. If you can save time using a pre-set font instead of creating a new one (provided the client approves), then go for it.

If you don't have a specific time budget, set one. You may even challenge yourself. If it usually takes you two days to design a poster, test yourself and try to do it in one day. The side benefit to this is surprising yourself with the output. When you push yourself to be on top of your game, you capitalize best on your design skills and instincts.

How to Exercise Speedy Designing Skills

1. Find inspiration.

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Excellent ideas are the results of the past. If you don't consider, analyze, or see what designers had accomplished before you, it'll be hard for you to create something better now.

Pre-internet, great designers faced this challenge with “look books.” These were large catalogs made up of thousands of designs compiled worldwide, and generally indexed by type of work. These days, smart designers take advantage of Google. The search engine is faster, less expensive, and works like a dream.

With the right keywords or key phrases, you'll find the inspiration you need to design your project. If your task is to create a rustic wedding invitation, use Google to look for "rustic," "bohemian," "nature", "wedding," "inspiration" or a combination of the keywords. From the search engine result, look at what other designers had done with the similar task. From their finished products, you'll have an idea on what to do next.

Thanks to various social media platforms, many design companies and freelancers function as news correspondents for any design-related bulletin. Sometimes, they produce the newsworthy material themselves. To stay informed on events, updated on work-related tools, and gain an endless source of inspiration, follow the right people. These are the niche experts who constantly create and change the design landscape. When you study the greats, you acquire their skills. Check out these inspiring Facebook groups to stay updated on design and creativity.

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2. Broaden your horizon.

Broaden your horizonPin It

If you’re like most people, you watch the same show each week, read the same column every day, or stick to the same cuisine every time you go out. People pick things based on their likes. And in most scenarios, there’s nothing wrong with this.

However, if you like to design innovative projects or create groundbreaking ideas, you have to jump out of your comfort zone. Explore other avenues to feed your mind with new materials. Watch something you generally wouldn’t. Discover new blogs and read content about different topics. Do something you ordinarily stay away from.

3. Work smarter.

A rule of thumb for every designer: a great design is about a great layout. Regardless of how much time you spend on color selection, photography or typography, you can’t move forward if your layout is inferior. This is why many designers fail to meet their time budget.

Deliberating on layout decisions can take some time. Left or right? Bold or italic? Aligned or centered? Concerns similar to this can take up to a good portion of your time. The only thing that will save you from squandering time is to make smart choices. Memorize the brief like it’s the back of your hand. Focus on the job and trust your instincts.

4. Remember that sketching is - and should always be - the first step.

sketching is the first stepPin It

This is an important lesson that many young designers overlook. Consider this: a hand with a pencil is infinitely faster than a hand with a mouse. If you sidestep sketching and start on working on Photoshop right away, you’ve already wasted hours of work that you think you’ve saved.

Sketch first, design later. When you explore your concepts and options with a pen and paper, it'll be easier to bring your idea into a reality. This is regardless of how good or bad your drawing skills are. If you do this, you’d be surprised how fast you can finish your project.

5. Work with a faster computer.

It's frustrating to wait for Photoshop to do your bidding because you either have slow internet connection or a low-quality computer. For design work - especially for professionals - a fast unit with a large screen and substantial storage space results to better and faster output. The ideas in your head will wilt and die if you don't have the tools to help you turn them into actual designs. Don't skimp on the resources you need to be better and faster. After all, your skill AND these tools pay for your bills.

6. Get enough rest.

Get Enough RestPin It

A sleep-deprived designer usually submits a crappy design. Getting ample rest is important to stay sharp to finish the task. This is especially true for freelancers who don't have a rigid schedule. As much as possible, avoid working for over eight hours a day. If that's unavoidable, take power naps or short breaks. A 15-minute rest can truly do wonders for your focus.

Becoming a fast designer doesn’t happen overnight. It takes practice and discipline to learn this skill. But if you put your energy and time on mastering how to be fast, it will certainly pay off.


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