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Top Web Designers reveal DNA of Professional Success

July 14, 2015 Written by Maria Shestakova, Digital Marketer

Web design is an ever-evolving industry, where the only constant is change. New trends and techniques emerge every year leaving many professionals frustrated and powerless instead of bringing inspiration. Find out how celebrated designers manage to flourish on this creative roller coaster and be a success.

Focus on the big picture

1. Design responsibly

Web designer Ethan Marcotte, known for coining the term 'responsive web design', now urges designers to shift their attention towards responsible usage of RWD, focusing on sustainability of their work within different environments, including lower-speed networks and less capable phones. How? Ethan advises to stop using terms like “mobile”, “desktop”, and “tablet”, and focus on what best describes capabilities of a certain endpoint device: the size of the screen (“small,” “medium,” or “widescreen”), input mode (“touch,” “keyboard,” “mouse”), resolution quality (“high” or “low”). This can break the set framework of designing for mobile only, and prepare your work for “an ever-widening array of devices, browsers, and whatever-the-heck-comes-next”.

2. Keep Content in Mind

A whole array of renowned designers confess that content not only matters, but in most cases comes prior to effective design.

Karen McGrane, a content strategist and UX designer with 15+ years of experience, managing partner of Bond Art + Science, came up with a perfect success formula: “Responsive design + content strategy = BFF 4 EVAH”

She stresses out that every platform should aim at providing users with same content. Yet, that doesn’t mean simply reusing desktop content across devices. The content should be revised and modified to match today’s realities and user’s needs. Even if the content is not yet complete, having a content strategy is vital to have before a design stage starts.

Interact with Customers Smartly 

1. Engage customers in the process

Andy Clarke, founder of Stuff and Nonsense design studio, and author of Hardboiled Web Design, shares his wisdom: “Clients love to feel involved in the design process.”
A win-win tactic is to be transparent and not to make your clients wait for a “big reveal”. Let your clients be involved in small daily decisions and try to better understand what design will suit them best.

Where to get started? Create a shared moodboard on Pinterest. It’s and easy and effective way to gather design and inspiration elements tin one place in no time.
However, Andy warns against clients bringing suggestions and corrections to only “put their stamp on the project”. To avoid this, never email pictures of websites to your customers and then ask what they think, instead, set up regular interaction and a channel for providing feedback.

2. Separate design elements for a better feedback

Every so often designers hear customers complain they are not satisfied with the design. Going deeper, they find out it wasn’t fonts or color schemes they didn’t enjoy, but rather the location of a menu or the like. Layout gets mixed up with the looks, and designers themselves are responsible for this, as they usually present their work as one piece.

Andy Clarke suggests it is more efficient to separate different design elements to receive valuable and precise feedback from clients and improve necessary elements accordingly.

Stay Up-to-date with Trends in Web Design

Get to know the trends that design gurus predict to be big in the near future and start implementing them in your design practice today.

1. Minimalism.

Vitaly Friedman, a celebrated web designer, known for his blog, Smashing Magazine, urges designers to keep it simple: “Users are rarely on a site to enjoy the design; furthermore, in most cases they are looking for the information despite the design. Strive for simplicity instead of complexity.”  Similarly, Sarah Parmenter, owner of design studio You Know Who, confesses the best advice on design she ever got is “Less is more”.

Learn from the best, and start subtracting if things aren't adding up.

2. Infinite Scrolling

Rebecca Gordon’s research “Everybody Scrolls” shows that users love scrolling. This trend gets rid of the traditional “click next” design approach. One-page design allows uploading next piece of content to grab readers’ attention before he gets distracted while the next page is being loaded. It simply makes more sense from the UX perspective.

3. Bold colors

Bright colors are more likely to get noticed these days and provide an aesthetically pleasing design. Erica Schoonmaker reveals her secret to impressive color schemes: “Pick a bunch of colors you want to do, then pick an overall color, that you want to tint everything towards. Overlay the "overall color" and play with the opacity till you get something you can work with.”

Get inspired

Last but not least, remember to recharge your batteries and seek for inspiration for successful web design before you get burnt out.

  • “Influence is borrowed, inspiration is earned. Create opportunities to earn it, and have a plan to capture it.”

Cameron Moll, designer, speaker, founder of Authentic Jobs Inc.

  • “To attempt mastery of everything inevitably makes us mediocre in many areas.”

Simon Collison, designer, public speaker, organizer of New Adventures in Web Design event.

  • “There's no failing. Only learning.”

Tobias van Schneider, a New-York based Austrian web designer at Spotify

All in all, learn from and work with professionals to achieve mastery and pursue a purposeful and fruitful career as a web designer. Follow these insider’s tips and tricks on web design to enhance your everyday design workflow and productivity, and reach professional heights with every design piece that comes your way.

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