All designers know about designer’s block. Its that phase of design where you aren’t satisfied with what you see on the screen, you know there’s more, but you cannot come up with what you need. This can be one of the most frustrating parts of design. There are many amazing designers out there still crippled by getting in a design rut.
Fortunately, there are ways around this. The first step is to realize that you have a problem. Usually, I realize when I’m in a fetal position in the corner, staring at CSS Zen Garden or CSS Remix, wishing that I could pull it together. Then, in a moment of epiphany, I realize that I am in a design rut. I then clear the candy wrappers out of the way, and lift myself out of the tears and urine I have been sitting in, close Firefox with http://www.apple.com in the browser, turn off Steel Magnolias, and follow these tips:
Tip 1: Get a Critique
Find another respected designer/friend. Heck, don’t even find a designer. Just get another trusted set of eyes. Be sure to tell them what you want. It might go something like this: “I am stuck in a design rut. When you have 5 minutes, can you honestly critique this work.” This way, they know you want more than a one line reply and it will take a little time. Also, they know that you are open to critique, rather than a simple…”dude, this is nice.” I hate the word “nice.”
Tip 2: Submit for critique
Submit your work for a critique. When working on logos, I often upload my work to Logo Pond and flag it as open for critique. When I first started work, I uploaded my work to Designer’s Talk. Their forums were a great source for inspiration.
Tip 3: Scrap your Design
If you are questioning your design direction, stop working with the same design in front of your face. Start over with a brand new idea, but this time do something different. Try different colors, switch rounded to square, move stuff, etc. You may not like this design, but it may give you new ideas.
Tip 4: Observe Great Design
Go to your favorite design inpiration on the web. There’s tons of galleries, such as Style Gala or CSS Beauty. One issue you may see with this is that you may find that most sites on these galleries have a common trend, as many designers design trendy sites, no offense. What I encourage, is to visit other kinds of galleries. Watch galleries, Product galleries, Design (NOT web) galleries, etc. The point is to observe great design out there on the interweb. Here’s a novel idea, check out product design. Maybe it’s Apple’s hardware design you think is great. Look at the hardware, not their website, but their hardware. Model some design after that. You get the point.
Tip 5: Get Detailed
You’ve heard the phrase, “The Design is in the Details” or maybe you haven’t but it makes sense. Take this concept to the extreme. Let’s say you have a site that you know is great, except the headers. So your headers, maybe the font or the styling just don’t jive with your site. Goto a bunch of resources for header design. Visit the library and look at books and magazines. Screenshoot a handful of websites that you feel have great headers. The point here is to not look at the whole of the design, but to get into the details. Focus only on the task at hand, which is the question, “What is good header design”.
Well, thats all for now, let me know your tips!