10 New Year’s Resolutions for Designers in 2014

Wow! Another year has almost passed away in the blink of an eye. In a few days time, everybody will be winding up all work for the year and enjoying the holidays. I guess time really flies…which makes it even more important for us to plan ahead of the New Year 2014. I’m sure this year has been extremely eventful for all of us…lots of memorable achievements to cherish, lots of unforgettable blunders to learn from. But the past is history now and it’s that time of the year when we make our resolutions for next year.

University of Scranton research revealed that almost half (45% to be precise) of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions while only a dismal 8% of them actually succeed in achieving their resolutions. But that shouldn’t stop us from following the tradition, should it?

While resolutions may not have worked so well in our personal lives, there is no reason not to set resolutions for our professional lives. As a designer, here are 10 of my New Year’s resolutions that I feel will be resonant among many other designers out there.

2014

Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Starting next year, you need to stop playing in ‘easy mode’. It’s time to step out of your comfort zone and take on challenging projects, the ones you evaded in the past just because they didn’t match your self-assumed ‘style’. What you never realized is that the real magic happens outside your comfort zone. You cannot grow professionally if you stay inside your shell.

Begin the year 2014 with the ‘Can Do attitude’ and take on everything head on. Don’t just settle for a mediocre life…instead chase your dreams without fear whatsoever. The moment you break free of your shackles of ‘comfort’, you will attain new levels of fulfillment, certainty and confidence.

Diversify Your Skill Set

skills

So you have been a web designer for the past several years now. Do you want to stay that way forever? Certainly not! It will only stagnate your career and prospects of professional development. Therefore next year, your focus should be on growing yourself as a designer by diversifying your skill set. Make yourself more productive and capable by learning other design disciplines as well. Be the Jack of all Trades’.

Take up coding classes and spread our horizon towards web development. Or learn the art of designing brand identities and logos to augment your web design skills. Doing so not only complements your already existent talent, you are also likely to get more work out of it thereby earning more than before.

Be a Community Player

Make a pact to become a community player from next year. Stop being selfish and start contributing to the designer community for a change. You will learn that the more you give, the more you will get in return. Leave behind any forms of envy, pride or personal grudges you may have against others as it will only pull you down.

Take out time to interact with the designer community both online and offline. Share your opinions and expert advice on design related platforms and enter into discussions with other professionals. For offline involvement, participate in design related events, conventions and gatherings. Not only will you experience the feeling of fraternity, you will also gain insights by networking with other professionals.

Seek Less Inspiration

inspiration

Inspiration for designers is a good to an extent. But you can never be sure when inspiration turns into plagiarism since there is a thin line between the two. You may defend it as an ‘inspired idea’ but in the end it will never be yours. I’m sure all of us are guilty of this in one way or another. Well it’s high time to change that.

Starting next year, make a pledge to seek less inspiration and create original designs. You will have much better results if you produce your own designs from scratch without ‘borrowing’ ideas from others work.

Eliminate Clients that cause Headaches

Greed and gluttony is a curse in every way and we as designers need to understand this menace. All year long, we overburden ourselves with more projects than we can handle and end up being overworked. Let us resolve and put an end to this shall we?

Starting next year, your goal should be to cut down your client/project list to a few but quality ones. As a general rule, 20% of all your clients are the ones that contribute to 80% of your results. The rest 80% is what you tenaciously hold onto just so that you can earn that ‘little extra’. Believe me…it definitely is not worth the trouble. Instead you should eliminate that troubling 80% and focus more on the quality clients/projects.

Learn Basic Copywriting

writing

Of course you don’t need to be a qualified copywriter to be a good designer. However as World Wide Web increasingly lays emphasis on good quality content labeling it as ‘King’, you need to learn at least the basics so that you are able to write a passable copy. It will also create a good impression on your clients.

For next year, say goodbye to ‘Lorem Ipsum’, and learn to write a decent copy. Yes I know writing high quality content takes years of practice, but you don’t need to do that. Simply learn the basic principles of copywriting and with a little practice you will be all set to do so yourself.

Embrace New Technology

Every New Year brings in new developments and improved technologies and 2014 will not be an exception. Things that were trendy and chic a few years ago may not even be relevant next year. And those who do not embrace these changes either fall behind or completely perish. That is why this should be next on your list of resolutions for 2014.

Make time everyday to stay updated with the latest developments happening around you that may have an effect on your profession. Responsive design remains the key development for next year as well. As more and more people shift from PCs to smartphones and tablets, you will have to learn newer frameworks, languages and techniques to provide optimal viewing experience on every new platform. You can either take up classes for that or go for self-learning via online tutorials whichever suits you well. Make sure you stay on top of your game.

Make Every Moment Count

As I mentioned in the beginning, time really flies like anything. You wouldn’t want another year to go by without accomplishing anything significant would you? Many designers including myself have a bad habit of procrastinating and end up working half of our potential. Imagine if this year was quite productive working at only half the potential, what could be accomplished at full productivity?

That is why you should resolve on making every moment of the next year count. Stop procrastinating on projects and avoid wasting too much time on Facebook or YouTube. Avoid waking long nights watching movies and sleeping out the day. Focus on the work at hand and use your spare time on productive stuff that adds value to your profession such as reading a book on design or attending a seminar.

Commit Mistakes

mistake

Instead of making a resolution that you can’t keep by saying you won’t make mistakes next year, do the exact opposite this time. Let’s face it…nobody is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes and there is nothing you can do to stop the unforeseen. So why not make it a resolution to commit mistakes and take the pressure off?

It actually isn’t as bad it sounds. With the fear of not making mistakes off your back, you can work and think freely. And by making mistakes, you also get a chance to learn from them and improve in future. How’s that for killing two birds with one stone?

Treat Your Life as a Project

Last but most importantly, make a resolution to give priority to your personal life. For several years you have been designing for others, working on their projects day in day out. All this time, you never realized that your life is your most important project that you always neglected. Without maintaining proper work-life balance, you will never be able to perform to your fullest.

Starting next year, treat your life like you treat your design project. Give it priority and time it deserves. Always have room in your day to socialize with your family and friends. When was the last time you took a break from work without actually worrying about it? If possible, plan a long vacation for next year (maybe during summers) and unwind.

What Are Your New Year’s Resolutions?

Irrespective of how effective New Year’ resolutions are, they do give us a sense of direction and a way forward. Are you among the lot who don’t believe in making resolutions every year? Or do you already have some resolution up your sleeves? Whatever the case may be, do share your thoughts with us.

Evan Brown is the Marketing Manager for DesignMantic, a DIY logo design and publishing company based in Langhorne, PA. Evan is an expert in digital marketing and has run several successful marketing campaigns. He has been working in the social media space since 2008, with a focus on design services, user interface planning, branding and others in the graphic design industry.

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