如何避免设计者常犯的12个错误
18
06 月

如何避免设计者常犯的12个错误

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翻译http://xinyo.org

还没译完,喜欢的先自己看原文吧

我们每个人都会犯错,但错误不该仅以让我们感到害怕或可耻而存在。犯错其实也是一个很难得的学习机会,它能以高我们的技能,让我们变成一个更加优秀的设计者。我在这一行做了好些年,也犯过不少让我记忆深刻的错误,我开始总结那些在设计中十分常见的错误,在我跟几位同事分析讨论后写下这篇文章。

快速导航:

以下是译文:

太快

太快了?这听起来不大像个问题。你按小时获得报酬,但是客户给的预算有限,所以你就想做出一件自己觉得值而且又能拿到报酬的作品。你曾花了那么长的时间学习快速键,快捷方式和解决方法,所以能做到所谓的快速高效。但是问题在于你做的快了就难以保证作品的质量。在自我提高的过程中认识到这一点尤为重要。

解决方法:快速,细致。任何一个优秀的赛车手都懂得在直道到要尽量快,在过弯道时一定要减速。在设计的过程中道理也一样。设计中当你在“直道”时就要全速前进,使用自动、批处理、快捷键等任何有用的办法来加快进度。为什么呢?不是让你能快速完成作品,而是腾出更多的时间过“弯道”。棘手的问题就在于什么时候该慢下来,所以要事先制定好规划,做的过程中也要注意是不是做的太快了。

在“减速”前还要做好状态的调整。我一般在午饭后开始做细致的部分,或者先花10分钟四处走走,呼吸些新鲜空气,喝口小酒,之后我能十分地投入到设计中。这一点非常重要,就像一部机器不能从最高档突然换到最低档,我想你的脑袋也一样。

隧道视野 [Tunnel Vision, 直译]

你已经为一张很重要的封面忙了一整夜,最终你搞定了。它看起来相当不错,你为此感到非常自豪。然而当把它送到项目经理/编辑/创意总监等手里,他们的第一反应却是“哎,这里有两个错别字,第三页最好一段你少了个句号”。你顿时哑然。好像从来没有犯过这种错误,这次是怎么了?其实当你努力地想把作品的某些部分做到完美时,就陷入了隧道视野,你将会忽略一些你一向注意的细节。我发现这通常发生在一个作品各个部分权重相差较大的时候。例如,在为一个乐队设计CD包装时很容易犯这种错误。你会把大部分的时间都花在外封面的艺术设计上,结果内页的小段文字说明里错误层出不穷。不光是你,大多数人都会犯这种错误,沉痛而又让人无奈。

解决方法:你可以通过多种方式来避免犯这种错误。我个人喜欢列一个清单,注明那里容易犯错,然后先把这些细致的东西做好,如果可能会拿给别人看看,自己再细心校队两遍。之后就可以把心思都放在那些“大块头”上。犯错通常都是先试着做完“大块头”,当接近交稿时间时还有一堆细节没做,出错就在所难免了。

过于劳累

OK,客户A的logo基本搞定了,做好后项目B还等着你忙,刚刚又接到了一个关于网站C设计的邮件,还要和程序员开个关于新项目D的电话会议!简直是太多了,事实上一个忙碌的设计者每个周都有这三倍的工作量。我很羡慕一些设计者,他们为了一个“大项目”一忙就是一个月,其他什么都不用管。想象一下他们如何把自己的才能发挥的淋漓尽致,要是我该有多好!反复的扳动开关将会导致灯泡早早的烧坏,作为设计者的我们也无差别。你要确保所有的项目都让你感到兴奋,它将不会伤害你的钱包,但是它对你的声誉和业务量有什么影响? 你要时时记住你接手的每一个项目都是你对自己的一种投资。你受雇于人,为他们献上自己的作品,如果你过于劳累,就可能犯错,那将会让你失去客户。

解决方法:于此我得到过最好的建议是“学会什么时候该推掉项目”,这也很让我为难,因为以前我听到的都是“钱赚少了只能靠吃面条度日(turn down income, make less money, live on noodles)”。

但现实是当我疲惫时我无法把握作品的质量,我把项目做完的同时并没有给客户留下深刻的印象。在设计这一行名誉和口碑是无价的。当我放弃了一些项目的同时我开始专注于做出高质量的作品,我可以把价钱加高一些并且拥有更加充裕的时间。这是设计者和客户都乐于接受的。我花了两年的时间来完成这个过程的完全转变,这也给我带来了下一轮的挑战。

以下是原文:

Speedy

Going too fast! Sounds like that isn’t possible right? You get paid by the hour, your client has a limited budget, and you want to produce something that’s portfolio worthy and insures you’re going to get paid. You spent all that time learning quick keys, shortcuts, and workarounds just so you could literally go faster and be more efficient. But there’s a point on the curve where your speed is up but your quality control goes down. It’s important in your development to discover where that is.

Solution: Go fast, smarter. Any good race car driver knows that you go fast in the straights and drive smart in the curves. The same thing needs to apply in your approach to design work. When it’s a part of a project where you can go straight, full speed, flat out, do it. Automate, batch process, use quick keys, anything to help you get ahead. Why? Not so you can finish faster, but so that you can take more time in the curves. The tricky part of the project is when you don’t slow down. Try to create an overview of the project that you can use to identify times when you can just go flat out full speed on production, and where you’ll need to be careful. Proof reading isn’t something you should do fast, but converting all your images to black and white is. Make sense?

Try to switch gears before you do your quality control check. I often schedule this right after lunch, or I will go take a 10 min break walking around, getting fresh air, grabbing a drink, so that I can come back calmed and focused on the task at hand. It’s important to wind down into that focus, no machine likes to switch from top gear to bottom gear, and your brain is no exception to that.

Tunnel Vision

You’ve been working all night on the cover graphic, the big illustration, retouching a photo that’s part of the annual report center spread, and finally you have it in the project. It looks great and you’re super proud! You send it off to the Project Manager/Editor/Creative Director, etc. The first thing they respond with is, “hey your cover has a couple of typos and you missed a period on the last paragraph of page three”. You feel dumb! You would normally never miss those, so what happened? It’s easy when you’re striving to make a singular part of a project so good, so perfect, so monumental, that you get Tunnel Vision. You’ll start missing all the little details you’d normally catch. I find this happens when the balance of a project is not evenly distributed. For example, it’s easy to do on projects like CD packaging for a band. You spend all that time on the outside cover art that you make all kinds of mistakes in the liner notes. It’s no one’s fault but yours, a hard lesson to learn. It’s up to the designer to push things back into balance and take ownership of as much as the project as they can.

Solution: You can approach this a few ways. My personal preference is to produce a checklist of what needs to happen for the project to be completed. Once identified try to knock out all the small things first, finish them, get someone else to look at it if possible, proof read it, double check it and be done. Now, give your full attention to that big piece of the project. Once there is nothing to be sacrificed at the expense of the largest component it’s more likely that you’ll have no mistakes in the final piece. What happens more commonly is designers try to take the biggest piece and solve it first. Then they approach the deadline and have a lot of small things remaining that get rushed for completion thus causing errors.

Overworked

Ok, the logo for client A is almost done. Those edits for project B are next, you just got an email about website C, and you have a conference call with your code guy in a couple of hours about a new job D! That’s a lot, and realistically a busy designer usually has this going on threefold in any given week. I always envied those designers who talk about the “big project” they’ve been working on for a month with nothing else on their plate. How nice it must be to focus on one single project for a month, imagine how your brilliance could shine, if only! Flipping the switch too many times is bound to burn out the bulb faster, and we as a design machine are no different. Sure all that work can be exciting, it’ll definitely not hurt the wallet, but what does it mean for your reputation, what does it do for your portfolio? Remember that every project you work on is an investment in yourself. You were hired to deliver something great for the client and if you’re dividing your talents beyond a manageable level, you’ll make little mistakes that drive a client to not hire you again.

Solution: Some of the best advice I ever received was, “Learn when to say no to projects and work”. That terrified me because in my head all I heard was, “turn down income, make less money, live on noodles”. The reality became apparent though. When I overworked myself I didn’t produce work with a keen eye for quality control. I was getting the job done, and not making strong impressions on clients and their associates. Reputation and referrals are invaluable in this field. When I sacrificed volume of projects I started producing higher quality work, I could charge slightly more and it allowed more time for quality control. This made for a happier designer and client. This takes time, in my case it was roughly 1-2 years before this balance was complete. It also set me up for this next challenge, which involves knowing when to hire help.

Too Many Hats

So the client contacted you about work, and you’ve dreamed of working with this company. How exciting for you. So first you need to submit your proposal, then get the project timeline figured out, contact and hire a contractor to handle some specialist parts to the project like 3D modeling, voice over, video, etc. You negotiate budgets between all those involved, start writing/reviewing content and all of this is before you’ve put pencil to paper, or mouse to pixel, and actually been a designer. Freelance is hard because you have to fulfill many more roles than an agency, or in-house, designer. Wearing all these hats can distract your focus and pull you away from delivering the great project you want to provide. If you are wearing so many hats on a project as this, and it’s not uncommon at all, then it’s almost guaranteed you’ll make a mistake and miss something from someone. So what do you do?

Solution: This is hard, because it’s the most common problem for freelancers. I think you have to approach this in a very systematic, structured, and organized way. I’ve met designers who say they only take conference calls on mornings so their afternoons are focused on the design side of the project. Fridays are the days they handle billing, etc. Find a system of organizing the roles so that it works best for you. My personal process is I write down all the positions of a project and under those positions I write what needs to happen, when it should happen, and how long I have to do it. For example “Copywriter>Edit Down Article to Fit Layout>2 Hours>By Friday”. Once I have this all figured out, I put it into my calendar and block out time based on position and need. Once my blocks are full, I can evaluate needing to work longer days or if I want to hire in extra resources. This is great because it puts you in a position to decide what you want to do, and what you need to contract out. This level of organization and focus should better insure you make less mistakes and that you’re giving your very best to each role for success.

Ooh Shiny

Some people are not meant to quality check their own work, I honestly and strongly believe that. It doesn’t make them any less skilled, or any less valuable, but it’s not in their personality to recheck their work. For me, these are the “artists”. Their minds wander, they are easily distracted, always looking for a potential muse, and maybe they’ve stayed attentive long enough to get that one killer part of a project done. It’s important to recognize and admit if you’re this sort of person. It’s considered by some to be ADD, and I won’t comment on that because I’m not a medical professional. However, the personality type is real, and for as brilliant as their talents can be, their mistakes potentially rival in scale.

Solution: Don’t work alone, and never put yourself on a timeline you can’t meet. Pad your time knowing that you will need it or create a distraction free work environment. That could mean turning off email, IM and phones during certain times of day while you produce work. Find others you can collaborate with, bounce ideas off of, and get spot checks of what you’re doing. Make sure the client understands exactly what you’re willing to deliver and what you’re not willing to do. This might sound like you’re cutting off the potential for more work but it’s better to have clients hiring you know exactly what you are providing them. If you don’t do research well, make sure they understand they are providing you with the necessary information formatted for the project because you won’t read it and edit it down. The best carpenter can charge more than an average handyman.

Ass-U-Me

A group project, great! You’re doing the layouts so you don’t have to bother checking if Bobby’s copy has spelling errors, right? It’s dangerous to assume roles on a project when they haven’t been clearly defined by anyone. It’s even worse when there’s no project manager to define responsibilities. I care much less about my title position on a project and much more about my responsibilities for it’s success. At the end of a project when the final deliverable is sent, a client will never accept the granular elements of a project and alienate the mistakes by category alone. Either the project is right, or it’s not. This is a shared responsibility and one often lost when there are no clear guidelines for expectations established early on.

Solution: At the beginning of a project launch ask for it to be clearly stated by the Project Manager or Client exactly what roles each of you will fulfill. If you think that’s not possible, state the roles and responsibilities yourself. Make sure everyone agrees, and if they don’t agree continue to rework the list until all responsibilities are met. In some cases the list might only be you, but now you have a checklist for each individual component you must deliver. There will be no surprises, and now you can focus on tasks without fear. It also can help illustrate the dispersion of work on a project which can lead to support before you have to cry for help.

Miscommunication

You weren’t sure what they meant in the meeting? You didn’t want to sound dumb so you didn’t say anything about it. You didn’t set expectations back to your client for when they need to get you the content, or logo, or image, etc. If you don’t communicate clearly, and I mean with complete transparency, you’re setting yourself up for failure. If it comes out towards the end of a project, you have less time to address the issue because the deadline is closer now then it ever was. Worse, the solution means reworking a lot of the project, ouch again! I’d rather be told I over communicate and make very few mistakes versus over simplify something very technical because I didn’t have the confidence to ask the client something. Often designers feel like they have to be an expert at everything to be able to design for it. This is extremely bad practice because it’s theoretically impossible. In the same week I’ve worked on projects for companies like Nokia and Genentech. There’s no way I could possibly be an expert on mobile technologies at the same time as I need to be a master of bio-tech.

Solution: You have to ask if you’re not certain and don’t understand something. Beyond stating the obvious about the potential risks, I often find that if a client’s information is so complex that I can’t understand it, there’s a good chance their target audience won’t either. They hired you for design, but it’s true that you’re biggest value add is being a sounding board for their message. To test its ability to be communicated visually, and how well it will be received. Try restating the information and see if the client agrees with you. Many times I find they’ve never heard their own content explained back. They may have never heard it translated and re-voiced. This can cause a better alignment of messaging, thinking, and ideation between you and the client both. If you have a client that doesn’t want to collaborate like this live then shoot them an email breaking out your understanding of each part of the project and let them correct it, mark it up, edit like a madman free with a red pen. In fact, I welcome that sort of approach. I often tell clients, please go through this and let me know what needs to be changed because “I WANT TO BE SURE IT’S RIGHT FOR YOU!”. That usually creates an appreciation for the attention to detail you’re bringing to the team.

Selling Short

Taking on a project that will allow you to use some skills you haven’t developed fully is a great opportunity to learn something in a real world scenario. Necessity being that mother of invention, sometimes this happens under duress versus desire. I for one have learned in all my years that I should NOT do 3D modeling work, and dance the line on coding for websites. But I’ve made the mistake of saying “yes”, that I’d give it a try because of time restraints, unavailable resources, or the client doesn’t have the money. The result is almost always, just ok work, long days with late nights, a less than happy client, and me being underpaid for my effort and overpaid for my delivery.

Solution: Know your strongest abilities, not just your technical/vocational skills. What are your individual strengths that allow you to add value to a project? I can do a lot of things, but I know I’m a strong Photoshop/Illustrator user. That’s good as a technical skill but another skill I’ve realized I have is that I can create a lot of ideas very fast. Without hesitation I can generate a pool of ideas while others are still deciding if their first idea is worth exploring. This will help when assigning roles mentioned earlier, knowing your strongest contribution puts you in a great position of success with the projects you take on.

Stylistically Challenged

No designer likes to hear this one. “You’re not the right person for the job”. But you know all the latest techniques for the applications like Photoshop and Illustrator, you can “make” anything, why wouldn’t you be the right person? Simple, it’s a project that isn’t in your style. Think of this like fashion design and styling. Whoever is designing should hopefully have a passion and proficiency in the style they are working towards. Design for work that aligns with you, your style, interests, passions, and successes. If you do great grungy textured urban looking work. Then don’t take the project for the chain of childcare businesses around your state. It’s not what you do, it’s not where your mind eye lives. How many times have you seen a logo for a business that looks like it was done in a conflicting style? This is what I’m talking about, and we’ve all seen examples of this. Comic Sans used for construction companies and an Apple Chancery font used for a electronica-dance club. Yikes.

Solution: Get portfolio reviews, look for peer feedback often of your latest work, and start building a digital style box of other designer’s work that you would compare to your own. Do a side by side of their work and yours and see if other people agree with your comparison. The goal here is to gain a real perspective on your work, versus your definitive perception. For years my wife, another designer who I respect dearly, called my personal illustrations cute. I hated this, the word seemed dirty and rude to my work. I collected samples of my personal illustrations and asked for feedback from many designers and illustrators I respected. “Cute”, was a common descriptor amongst others. That was it! I had to change, or accept that I illustrated “cute” things.

Silo

Don’t work in one. This echoes some of the other mistakes mentioned but can also be identified by the lack of collaboration on a project. Working in a silo is a cause for errors, it’s when you isolate yourself on a project, and it isn’t seen by anyone, before it goes to a client. You don’t want your client to be the person who edits your work and catches your mistakes. Their edit requests should be ones that come from being inspired by your efforts and ignite more ideas in them. In future you’ll be seen as a creative resource that can consult versus the person who can “get it done”. When I was a teacher I told my students, “never trust your success in the hands of others”. That holds true at the base level. You assume the project manager will catch any mistakes and hopefully tell you about them. The project manager is busy and assumes you didn’t make any mistakes because you’re “awesome” and they trust you. This is probably the cause of projects ending up on those design disaster websites where hundreds of comments are left about how “stupid” you are for missing something so simple, but every designer has missed something. You don’t want your work to end up there I imagine.

Solution: Get extra people to review your work and it doesn’t have to be another designer. In fact I recommend that you have a non-designer look at it objectively for every project you work on. My friends who aren’t designers will often question the simplest things that cause me to change my designs. The “a-ha” moment comes more often this way. Think of this as research, and everyone else is studying your project. Does it say what it’s supposed to? Is it communicating properly? Extra pairs of eyes are helpful, and often inspire greater work. I utilize friends over IM, via email, those who sit next to me, anyone really I believe is confident enough to give me honest feedback. Take a screenshot of your work, and share it, be open to feedback and critiques and consider it a success if on the first pass it comes back covered in questions and change requests. Now, it’s aligned for success thanks to that open feedback. This takes removing a little bit of ego, but it’s worth it for your career.

Married by Design

Don’t marry your work! Younger designers are brilliant, they have a fresh sense of style, and what’s going on in current culture. However, they often are the ones that get emotionally attached to their projects and want to see their ideas “win”. Unless you’re Charlie Sheen, winning isn’t your goal. This is when creative types treat their projects like contests. I’ve seen it, and I’m equally guilty of it. That doesn’t mean to not voice the strengths of your ideas and concepts, but question your motives. In college I was taught “an artist has one person to please but a designer has the client’s audience to consider first”. Sometimes even the client is married to their own idea and it can be difficult, and require some courage, to explain why it’s not the best concept.

Solution: For each project there is usually a list of goals. If I’m the facilitator of a project I like to start each one with a “need and brief” breakdown. The “need” is a list of goals for the project. You should attempt to isolate this list down to one parent need that all others are a sub goal to. Make it clear and well stated so everyone agrees to the parent need. The more well isolated the need, the greater chance you have of accomplishing it with solid design. The “brief” is what creates some of your design restrictions. The “brief” is the rules behind your project. “You must use this color, it must use this font, it must…”. For large corporate work they often have branding guidelines or a design strategy that you will adhere to. When you have boutique clients the structure isn’t usually so well defined. Think of the “brief” as your QC checklist for meeting standards. If your client is small and doesn’t have any, now is the time to start defining some of those and maybe they’ll see you as the master visionary of their brand. When you start following a “need and brief” approach to projects it will help you be strategic to specific goals instead of just marrying your ideas and fighting for their place in a project. This will help you learn to be a better facilitator and leader of work.

Numbers

We’ve all seen the projects that have little inconsistencies that make it feel just slightly under-polished. Maybe they ran out of time, maybe they ran out of budget, or maybe the designer just didn’t work systematically versus organically. Some shadows varying on objects, leading on different blocks of text varies, the list goes on. The look is there, and it’s impressive, but the client wants that now applied to a 200 slide presentation, or equivalent page count for a website, how easy is it to reproduce? There’s a reason the old design rule Keep It Simple Stupid exists. It’s not just to help design clean elegant work, sometimes it’s about the ability to be consistent.

Solution: The tools now offer everything up in some form of numbers. The angle of, shadows, blur, kerning, leading, pagination, picas, pixels, inches, dpi, lpi, and more. If you can create a style guide, or cheat sheet on a project that tells you the numerical value of something then it can be reproduced consistently. More importantly it can be shared so anyone else working on the project can produce consistently with you. Getting everyone on the same page takes guidance, and guidance comes from clear instruction backed by solid examples. Break down a checklist for your project so someone can use it as a QC check list before delivering to the client. Are the fonts all the right size? Are the colors correct? A simple list can speed up quality checking, offer better accuracy, and make the process more efficient.