We've had a bit of a revelation here at Kalexiko. Here before you are our 10 Commandments for designers. Don't worry, we won't strike you down or anything if you don't follow them, but sometimes even designers need a guide to adhere to.
1. Identify the problem for every brief
What are the major issues? What are the minor issues? Are you going to work through them or around them? What is important to the client, what are their expectations, and how are you going to exceed them?
2. Establish what the goals of the project need to be
Every successful project should leave both you and the client better off by the end of it than you were before. What do you want to achieve, and how are you going to achieve it?
3. Figure out an appropriate visual hierarchy
Decide what aspects of a page need to be emphasised visually. Does a client want to really push their logo and corporate identity? Do they want to promote free delivery or daily deals as their unique selling point? These should therefore be given greater prominence at the top of the page or in a striking banner.
4. Know your audience
It's crucial when designing to know what your audience is. Websites have to be tailored to appeal to who's reading them, so a website for kids is going to look and read very differently to one aimed at retirees. Who is going to look at the site, and how can you appeal to them in both aesthetics and functionality?
There's more to design than just designing things. Think about the why as well as the how. Just because everybody else has always done something a certain way doesn't mean that you have to. Archimedes discovered his theory of displacement while having a bath, Einstein came up with relativity mostly from dreams he'd had. Revolutionise some blue-sky paradigms outside the box, and push things forward.
6. Make sure that everyone is communicating effectively
Poor communication can and will ruin projects. Who is involved? Who should be involved? Are they all in the loop? If a client hasn't made it clear what they want, they probably won't get it. Equally if you're not communicating properly, misunderstandings occur and mistakes get made.
7. Take some time out
Being creative can be stressful at times, and it's completely normal to hit a wall every now and then. Go for a walk, have a coffee, clear your head and come back to it later. It does no harm to ask someone else for their opinion.
8. Don't worry!
Is the client unhappy with something? It's not the end of the world, they're perfectly entitled to let you know, and you can't be expected to be a mindreader. Change what needs changing, and you'll probably impress them even more. In the grand scheme of things, nothing is really that big a deal, and when a project is finished you'll probably wonder what you were worried about.
9. Believe in your abilities
It's the bottom of the ninth, the bases are loaded and you're up. Coach says that Little Timmy is watching in the hospital, so make him proud. You wouldn't be a designer unless you could design things, so step up, never back down and knock that project out of the park. Alternatively, watch this speech from Braveheart over and over again until you feel like you can achieve anything.
10. Improve yourself every day
Simply working on something is sufficient. But if you find time, learn about a new design technique, find out what other people are doing in design communities like Dribbble, Forrst and Smashing Magazine, or just read a random article on Wikipedia and discover something new. Knowledge is power, so use it to improve your skills whenever you can.
Now, go forth and use the tools and skills at your disposal to create something unique and amazing.