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5 Ways Designers Can Save Time


Tips and suggestion for how designers can save time during design projects. Some awesome fundamental tips which should be take on board by any designer because these help to save and to work more productively.

Learn Shortcut Keys


It may seem like it will only save you a few seconds, but those few seconds will add up very quickly on a big project! Learning the keyboard shortcuts for task that you will use often is something many designers tend to overlook. In truth this is something that employers (Senior Designers and Art Directors) will look at to determine your experience and professional skill. In their minds: “if you don’t use the shortcut keys, you don’t know them, and if you don’t know them you can’t be that experienced.”

Once you get used to using shortcut keys in your everyday work, you will find that it helps you keep a fast pace and keep your train of thought.

Build an Asset Librarybetter-portfolio_0003_liabary

Having a large asset library can be convenient. If you have been doing design work for a while you probably have hundreds of stock photos, vector packs, fonts, and other things you use for your projects. If you don’t have a collection of these resources you really should get one together, and keep building it up even if you have one.

One of the most time consuming task for designers is gathering the resources for a project. Some designers spend hours trying to find the right images for just one poster or banner. If you already have a collection of your own you can start there, and will probably having something that you can use right away, saving you the trouble of looking too hard.

In your spare time you should gather as many resources as you can for different types of projects. More importantly you should also build some custom resources of your own!

Learn Touch Typingbetter-portfolio_0002_touch typing

Some of you may be looking at this and scratching your heads, don’t. I’ve known many designers and other professionals who still either lacked this skill entirely or hadn’t developed it very far. Designers should try to have a typing speed of at least 50 words per minute (wpm). In this day and age, and particularly in an industry where time is of the essence, you can’t afford to waste time hen pecking at a keyboard.

There are plenty of online resources to help you practice your touch typing skills and become faster. I find one of the more practical ways for people to do this is to keep a journal and force themselves to type it properly, or to keep a blog. Practice makes perfect!

Creative Briefs and Getting Detailsbetter-portfolio_0001_breifs

Too often designers are other creatives jump right into the computer and fire up Photoshop or InDesign and complete forget pen, paper, and little brainstorming. Laying out your ideas on paper first will save you time because you can work out problems and ideas much more quickly and change them without a lot of effort. Not to mention that you will also have a guide or road map rather having to complete trust your memory.

If a client gives you a creative brief go over it with a fine tooth comb and make sure you didn’t miss anything. Its better to kill a small amount of time going over this document and making sure you understand exactly what the client wants, than making simple mistakes and oversights, and having to reproduce your work.

In the event that your boss or supervisor ask you why you haven’t started a project yet, just calmly let them know that you are going over the brief to make sure you didn’t miss anything. It’s entirely too easy to have gotten the wrong dimensions for a document, or misread the context of an assignment.

In the event a client hasn’t given you a brief, you should have a standard one that you use; either submit it to the client to fill out, or give them a call, ask the necessary questions and fill out the brief yourself. This may seem like adding another step and more time to your design process, but the time it will save you can’t be overlooked.

Use Templates

Some designers frown upon using templates, but they are one of the best kept secrets of professional designers. You see designers who find themselves very busy will in their free time create several templates and layouts to use later as needed. If you don’t know where to start you can try looking at some of the pre-built templates that come with your design software.

Most of the Adobe Creative Suite programs come with templates for anything from business cards to brochures. If you look at these templates it will give you an idea of how to start building your own and save you time in the future. In may cases you will still be doing a lot of customization and you will wonder why you didn’t just start from scratch.

Just remember there were dozens of smaller task you avoided by using a template and the seconds you saved will add up to minutes! There is also nothing wrong with purchasing templates online a modifying them, this is another common practice that many professionals will not own up to, and it is in fact often requested by clients who want something done quickly.

Additional Tips:

Learn to use Adobe Bridgebetter-portfolio_0000_bridge

Adobe Bridge is one of the most convenient ways to keep your files organized and find what you’re looking for. Unlike your desktop browser it will actually give you a preview of your design files, even if they are Photoshop or InDesign documents.

Label and Name Files Properly

Try to come up with a naming convention that makes sense when organizing your files. A good rule of thumb is to imagine that a stranger has to deal with your files using only common sense; you may even want to have a friend or family member help you test how well you’ve done this.

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15 thoughts on “5 Ways Designers Can Save Time

  1. Another tip is to create your own “base” template full of commonly used layers. For example, if you design web sites, then there are certain common elements. By saving these layers all you need to do is drag them to the new file as needed.

    You could also create a base “empty, transparent” file that includes nothing but a few guide rules. Since most sites need to pay attention to the “prime real estate” area you can visualize this from the get-go.

  2. Thanks for these tips! Every little bit helps when you’re a new designer like me getting ready to head out in the real world! I’ll be sure to retweet this to show others!

  3. Great tips. Right now I am making a list of FAQ for clients and prospects. We get questions that are always asked so having a pdf FAQ to hand out is a great idea.

  4. Great tips! I agree keyboard shortcuts help save a lot of time especially if the project is big or the task requires a lot of steps to achieve the final result. The asset library is another part of designing which is important.

  5. I’m a beginner and want to be a web designer/developer and graphic designer. I just read this article and some of them are new to me and sure it will going to help.

  6. Pamela Hazelton is bang on it. Until I created my base template my speed for starting new projects was well behind. My base template (psd) includes guides and a grouping structure to keep all my layers in check.

  7. The most time saver is to not distracting doing other stuff while working. But the notes and shortcut keys are good tips, thanks!

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