Graphic design

Why you should have a persona for your business.

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You’re probably thinking “oh I know who my target audience is, I don’t need a persona”

This may be true that you do know who your target audience is. But there are many benefits of having a persona.

First of all, let me explain what a persona is just incase you are scratching your head or about to google it lol. A persona is a written snippet of a made up person with their interests, likes, career and hobbies along with age and a photo. You usually come up with this made up  information by doing user interviews first. Now you’re probably asking why do I have to do interview??

So you have this awesome idea of a product or service and you’re ready to start a business right?? Wrong! Stop right there. First ask yourself if your product or service is a solution for customers problems?  If not, go back to the drawing board and find a solution to their problem. But if you answered yes, then proceed to interviews. Let your customers try out your services free of charge or at a discount so you can get honest feedback from your users. After you get your feedback from the users and they tell you what they liked, didn’t like, what problem they had, etc. Take all of your research from your users and design a persona with all of the combined feedback.

Benefits of a persona

  1. It will help you stay on brand – Building a persona helps you and your company stay on brand. When you keep coming back to your persona you’ll remember what solution your solving and for whom.
  2. It will humanize your target audience – instead of just looking at data and stats, having a persona will make your target audience feel more like an actual person. Because you’ll give your persona a name too. So when you get stuck, you’ll turn to your persona and ask yourself “what would Aiden like?”
  3. A great understanding of customers behaviors and needs (not wants) – Believe it or not, people don’t know what they want, so instead we figure out what they need. You’ll take the features that most users needed and add that feature to your product or service. If only one person wanted a certain feature, you cannot add data from one consumer,  If that was the case, a blow dryer would have 1000 buttons. You should be looking for patterns in your research.

Above is a persona I put together after many user interviews and feedback for an app design. I took all of my data that I saw a pattern throughout my interviews and added that to my persona. My Aiden persona has helped me stay on brand as well as humanize my users for my product. My product is for an app and a responsive website. If you’d like to learn more about responsive websites check out my blog post on responsive websites and the benefits of a mobile-first design! https://visualsugar.com/2019/03/28/benefits-of-mobile-first-designing/(opens in a new tab) 

Don’t forget to comment below on anything I may have missed for personas and their benefits!

Design

Benefits of mobile-first designing

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So why should you be designing with a mobile-first mindset?

Well as you probably already know every one already uses their phone for almost everything! 

If you’re not designing for mobile you could be missing out on some awesome clients.

Think about it, if you’re on a website on your phone and its taking way too long to load or it just looks terrible and is hard to navigate on your smart phone, what do you do? Most people will give up and go find a different company that offers the same product or service with a more user friendly website. Customers only stay on your website for 7 seconds or less, so if they cannot find what they are looking for in 7 seconds, you just lost a potential customer. So now do you see why you should always be designing mobile-first? 

Responsive Websites

There are a few ways you can implement mobile-first designs, you can use a web design platform such as WordPress or square space and while designing be sure to make it a responsive website, this means it will automatically adjust to the screen size you are on. If you are using a tablet or phone, the site will adjust the size of all of the elements on your pages to fit that screen. Having one site and using the responsive option will save you time and money.

2 URL’s

This one costs a little more because you will have 2 different websites, you will design one for mobile and one for desktop. Of course there are benefits to having separate sites for each platform such as you can design precisely for each platform exactly how you want and not have to worry about some elements looking a little weird on desktop if you designed a responsive site for mobile. Like I said above though this one is not for the start up company who needs to figure out how to save money.
 

I personally prefer a responsive website

due to the fact you only have the up-keep of one website also the cost factor plays a big role for me because I am a small business, I am also frugal by nature, so I look for deals and ways to cut cost all the time, of course there are some things you should just not cuts costs on such as logos, you really do get what you paid for when it comes to logos. If you’d like to read more into logos check out  why a high quality logo design does not cost $50

 

Benefits of a Mobile-First Website 

  • It will look great on Mobile- since most customers are already on their phone searching for your business  anyways.
  • It will load faster if you don’t junk it up
  • It will be easier to navigate – as long as you keep mobile in mind while designing.
  • Cheaper alternative then 2 URLs
  • It concentrates on the core information 

Check out the above info graphic that shows how many people actually use their phone to search for your company on their smart phone. This alone should get you want to design mobile first! Credits to https://wearesocial.com/blog/2018/01/global-digital-report-2018

If you have any benefits of a mobile-first design that I did not mention, please comment below!

Design

Secrets on how to be a happy remote worker

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Secrets on how to be a happy remote worker

Just a few short months ago, I quit the corporate 9-5 of working. I was working for a big well-known corporation as a designer to which I will not name drop. (sorry, not sorry)

I was losing my mind driving an hour to and from work in Atlanta traffic

I was losing my mind driving an hour to and from work in Atlanta traffic, which if you don’t know can be crazy! It takes you double the time to get anywhere in Atlanta. The corporation I worked for had a lot of great perks, I loved the people I worked with and the culture was amazing, but the actual work was very mundane.

For a long time, I thought there was something wrong with me because it always felt like i wanted more and something was missing. I was working a super comfortable job, with great pay and I could have easily of worked my way up the corporate ladder. As a woman you know you need to prove to your male counterparts that you are just as worthy to have that beautiful job title.

Actually, there was something wrong with me, but it’s my super power, I was a woman who has been walking through life for 31 years with undiagnosed ADHD. I have a mix of the two types of ADHD inattentive and hyperactivity. There is so much more that goes along with ADHD for adults and women. That is why corporate was keeping me in a brain fog because I was not challenged with the work, it was very repetitive. And as everyone knows boredom and ADHD do not go together. 

After three and half years I finally made the jump, head first, right into remote working as a designer. Now I am not going to tell you it’s everything you’ve ever dreamed of… Actually, yes, yes, I am. You have more freedom to move around and for an adult ADHD’er that’s great! You are less interrupted by co-workers and bosses asking you “when are you going to be finished with that project”, you can listen to your music as loud as you want, and you’re not distracted by the conversation going on a few cubes over.

With every positive there is a negative though. 

When I first started working remotely, I was getting a little sad and the feeling of guilt randomly for the first week. I quickly realized it was because I was not getting out of the house much and interacting with other human beings. So, I made a decision that starting that next week I would start going to yoga to get my butt out of the house. Yoga has helped me not only get out of the house, but it has helped me mentally too.

As for the guilt, I was feeling guilty for being happy about my now calm and relaxing lifestyle, but I realized that society is why I was feeling guilty, because I was not out there working in the corporate world and running myself dry until there was nothing left to give when I got home to my husband. Society has our thinking so twisted that we have to live a certain lifestyle to prove to the world that we are successful, when what really mattes is that you are happy!

Love what you do

It does not matter where you work in the world, whether it be at a corporate office or in the comfort of your own home, if you do not love what you do, and it does not spark joy in your life, you will not thrive and do your best at your job. You must find your passion. I know some people say not to choose your passion for your career, but I disagree! I think you should seek out something you love and have a passion for.

Do not overwork yourself

I cannot stress this one enough, do not overwork yourself. Be sure to set a starting time and a quitting time. Sure there will be days when you have a project that needs to be finished that night and thats okay. Just dont make it a habit. 

Dedicated workspace

Make sure you have a dedicated work space. My dedicated work space is in my basement in a small room that I remodeled for comfort. I love comfy carpet, so I installed carpet, added some plants and painted the walls grey. I also chose this room because it has a window, Vitamin D is very important when you’re working remotely. Another reason you want a dedicated work space is because your work life and home life are going to blur together. I noticed this happening the second week I started working from home. I would see unpaid bills on my kitchen counter that I would keep dismissing and forget to pay because I would see them everyday on my lunch break. But after I got into a routine and I knew that upstairs was home life and the basement was work-life it made it much easier. (ps those bills finally got paid, right on time, haha)

Get out of the house

Get out of the house at-least once a day. Sign up for classes or go walk around a Kroger Just as long as you get out of the house. I know how easy it is to just stay inside all day, and most of the time I want to, but I do not. I go to yoga three days a week, then Tuesday is for me, I either go out or stay home and finish up a home project or do some crafts and then on Friday I usually go do errands.

Get dressed

Yep I said it! Get up and get dressed, like you would if you were going into the office. (you’re all like, but Amanda I work from home! we should stay in our Pjs!) I know that sounds crazy. But I was staying in my pajamas all day everyday for about 2 weeks and I noticed a shift in my mood, I was depressed from not leaving the house and staying in my pajamas so I started getting dressed, Yep, I even put a bra on! haha. Getting dressed has helped me and my body know that it is work time and not lazy time.

Conclusion

As a remote worker I have learned the key to success is loving what you do, do not overwork yourself just because you do work from home. Have a dedicated place to work that is away from your home life. Set timers to keep you on track and have a set starting and quitting time. Be sure to get out of the house at least once a day, for me that is yoga, I go to yoga 3 times a week and I find other errands to do on the days I do not go to yoga. Last but not least keep a routine, and get dressed, your body will thank you.

Design

Photoshop Tips & Tricks Part 2

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Photoshop Tips & tricks Part 2

In part 1 I went over common shortcuts for photoshop which are very useful when you’re designing with a hard deadline, which face it, if you’re a designer, you’re always under a tight deadline!

There are a few things within photoshop that will save you time and a headache if you know how to do it! So i will be showing you how to use fun tips and tricks.

Caps Lock

Have you ever been working in photoshop using the paint tool and all of a sudden your paint circle icon turns into a different icon that looks like a 4 lined star shape thingy?  and you get frustrated because you want to know how big your paint line is going to be but you cannot for the life of you figure out why your paint icon won’t come back no matter what you do? Well let me let you in on a little secret! Check to see if your caps lock is on. Yup, it is that simple. When I first started out as a designer I could not figure out what was going on. This goes for all tools in photoshop. If they look different after choosing the tool, see if your caps lock is on.

Clone stamp

The Clone stamp is used to clone an object, I chose to clone the building  so you guys can see what I cloned. To use the clone stamp, all you do is select the clone stamp tool, if you hover over your tools it will tell you what tool you are hovered on. The clone tool is the 10th tool down and it looks like a stamp, so once you select it, hover over what you want to clone and press option>Mouse Click (on Mac) then move your mouse to where ever you want it to show up and click your mouse and just like painting, just paint the building or what ever you are cloning.

Magnetic Lasso Tool

 

This tool is one of my favorites, it works by taking out backgrounds or something with solid colors so the pixels are picked up from the tool. Or to make a selection. To use this tool go to your tool panel and it will be the third one down, but it should have a magnet showing, so if you do not see that, click and hold down until the options pop out and click on the magnetic lasso. 

Okay, now that you have selected your tool, take your tool to your image and click where you want to start the path to delete your background then you can either move your mouse on the edges of the background you want to delete or you can click to get a good grab while you move your mouse around the image. Work your way around the background you want to delete until you close the selection then close it by putting the two ends together, then you can press delete, but only if your background layer is unlocked. See above for my example of using the magnetic lasso to delete the background. Notice my selection also.

Blur Background

To go off of what we just learned with the magnetic lasso tool, we can use that same process to blur out our background. So go ahead and select your background with the magnetic lasso tool. Then go up to filters>Blur>Motion Blur, then play with the slider for distance and adjust until you find it appealing. As you can see below, my background with clouds are blurred.

Please feel free to comment below how this article helped you or to add more tips and tricks.

If you missed part 1 of Photoshop tips and tricks, be sure to check it out at tips and tricks

Graphic design

Photoshop Tips and Tricks

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Photoshop Tips and Tricks

Photoshop is becoming a more common tool that people are using who are hobbyists and who are not professional designers but would rather use a professional program to edit their images then to use an app on their phone.

I remember in the early 2000’s not many people knew what photoshop was unless they were a designer. Or if they had heard of photoshop they did not know how to use it.  I am going to give you some tips and tricks on how to use photoshop as a beginner, or even an intermediate designer.

Command +

One of my favorite keyboard short cuts are the command +, when you press those two buttons together it zooms in on your image. Now I actually love this keyboard short cut even more because it works with a lot of stuff. I use this shortcut in all of the creative suite programs, but also it works on web browsers and your outlook email! I thought that was super cool when I figured that out. LOL. Go ahead and try it.

Command –

Well I am sure you can figure this one out on your own. plus and minus are pretty self explanatory. So if you press the command – your image in photoshop will zoom out of course. This also applies to website and email too.

Command 0

We have used the command plus and minus but command zero is cool because it brings your image back at 100% after using all of those command pluses and minuses to zoom in and out.

[ – Left Bracket 

When you are using a tool in photoshop such as the paint brush for an example, when you press the left bracket it will make your paint brush icon smaller.

] – Right Bracket

Right bracket is the same as the left bracket. If you press the right bracket in photoshop while using the paint brush it will make your paint brush icon bigger.

Command C

 just like any other Command C shortcut on the mac is copy, But i like to click on a layer in photoshop and press command C to copy its and then to paste it as another layer.

Command J

Like I said above I like to paste what I copied as another layer so to do that your would press Command J.

 

Stay tuned for the second part of this post for more photoshop tips and tricks using the fill content aware tool and more.

 

Comment below to add some more photoshop tips and tricks

 

 
Design

9 Design Secrets for Beginners

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9 Design Secrets for Beginners

I was a beginner in the design world about ten years ago before I was offered my first job at a newspaper and using mainly Indesign, there were design words that I did not understand or programs that I used for the wrong purposes. Starting out as a college student and had taken a few graphic art classes in high school for two years I was using photoshop for all of my designs when i should have been using indesign. Now that I have been in the field for almost ten years when I see someone using photoshop for a design, or illustrator for a design layout with multiple pages, I cringe! Some designers just prefer using illustrator for a flyer or a book cover because of its crispness. I do it too for small projects. But mainly I use it for logos and illustration, hence the word “illustrate” in illustrator.

To help beginners that are just starting out I am going to let you in on 9 design secrets that you should know as a designer.

1. Photoshop

Photoshop is a program within the adobe creative suite, it is used for multiple reasons, hell you can even make a simple video in photoshop. Some web designers use photoshop for mockups of their landing pages to see how it will look before they actually start designing and coding their website. But I am not going to go in depth about that, I am just trying to keep it simple for print Graphic Designers just starting out. So photoshop should be used for editing photos. It has a lot of amazing filters and tools for editing images.

2. Illustrator

Illustrator is a program within the adobe creative suite, illustrator is great for bringing in hand-drawn images and tracing it with the pen tool in illustrator. The pen tool is pretty simple to use after you get the hang of it. It is highly recommended to use for designing logos. It is versatile for scaling your logo without losing its crispness. Vector illustrations are the best for scaling, for this reason, it is best to use illustrator. You can design a logo for a business card, and then turn around and scale that logo big enough for a billboard.

did you know, up close, billboards are actually pixelated?

3. Indesign

Indesign is a super easy program to learn if you have the patients. When I was in college I hated InDesign, but that was just because I was so stuck on photoshop for designing my page layouts. Indesign is so much easier for page layouts, I promise. So if you’re designing page layouts in photoshop just because that is what you are familiar with, please take the time to learn InDesign, you will not regret it! Some designers do use photoshop for posters to use the filter effects like lights, smoke and blur. The only problem with this is that the file will be huge. But hey if it looks good and the printer can print it, then, to each their own, right?

4. Kerning

Within all of these programs, there is kerning. As a designer, there will be times you want more space in between the letters of a word, playing with kerning on a word in a poster will really give you the emphasis you need. For example, if you have a long word above a short word, you might tighten up the kerning of the long word and loosen up the kerning of the small word so they can take up the same space and be aligned. Notice there is more space between the letters of the word “Graphic”. See below for an example

5. Leading

Not to be confused with Leading, as in “I was leading a heard of little duckies across the street”. It is Leading like the lead of a pencil with an ing and the end. Okay now that I covered how to pronounce it, let me explain what leading is! Leading is the space in between words. I am dyslexic so for me to easily remember the difference between kerning and leading, I put a peace sign up with my hand and if it is upright it is kerning, but if my peace sign is sideways it is leading. I hope that helps you as it does me! LOL.

Below is an example of leading.

6. CMYK

CMYK is what your setting should be on your design program if you plan on printing your design. It stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. CMYK are the colors of the inks that make up your design when printed. If you select RGB you will make your printer cry. But seriously make sure it is CMYK if you’re printing your project. Just a little tip, also be sure your DPI is at 300 for printing a design too. I’ll touch on that another time.

7. RGB

RGB is what you would select if your design is for a screen. It stands for Red, Green and Blue. The computer has red, green and blue pixels that make up the other colors our eyes see. Back in the day TVs used to have 3 big lights behind the tv screen that was RGB, that would make up the colors you saw on a big screen tv from the 90’s. If you would like a more in-depth explanation of RGB please visit pcmag

8. White Space

White space is a design term you will hear a lot during your life as a designer. I am all for leaving some white space, as I said in my recent post Why a high quality logo does not cost $50, “less is more”. White space can help you get your idea across in a design. See below for a good use of white space. it does not necessarily need to be white, it’s just the space in a photo or anything design that is not used. As you can see from the below image, even with all that space, it still works, it does not feel over cluttered, it feels fresh and clean.

9. Flow

Lastly for my design secrets is flow. Flow is very important when it comes to design, you want to put together a design that is pleasing to the eye, you do not want your viewer’s eyes wandering all over the advertisement or poster. As you can see above the flow is perfect. For me, my eyes start out on the cell phone and work its way down to the book then the keyboard. But the keyboard is slanted for a reason it is so your eyes are directed back up the image. This is a good example of good design aesthetics. If you would like to learn more on design aesthetics please visit creative market.com.

That is my 9 design secrets for beginners.

Comment below and tell me your secrets or tips and tricks that you would like to share!