As a designer, I feel I spend A LOT of time searching for new patterns, textures and resources. I have a fairly large collection, but sometimes it’s nice to expand my design horizon. I’ve complied a big list of the best patterns (that don’t suck) that are fresh, new and modern and thought it would benefit others, so I decided to share. Some of them are free, some of them you have to pay for, but most of them are well-worth the dollars. Also, Subtle Patterns is a great resource for minimal textures.
Believe it or not, there are 365 “Fear not” passages in the bible. That’s 1 for every day of the year.
I’ll be graduating in 2 weeks after being in school for 17 years of my life. I’m also turning 22 this Saturday. I’m scared. This fear comes from uncertainty, anxiety, the unknown. After being in the same type of environment for so long, I fear many things once I leave school, and not all of them are related to my job. I fear I won’t be respected as a profesional. I fear I’ll make a choice that will alter the direction of my life. I fear that my friends won’t stick around. I fear being lonely. I fear I won’t be able to accomplish many of the things I desire to do with my life. I fear running out of time. I fear I’ll be too scared to do things I know I can do.
Success seems scary to me because of the weight it brings. Am I headed in the right direction to succeed? What if I do? Will it come at a cost for something else in my life that is dear to me? I fear I won’t be able to live up to expectations.
What does success mean? In society, money and power are derived from success. I was brought up to think that money is one of the main factors that contribute to our happiness and success. I believe this is true (to an extent of course). I’d obviously love to live comfortably enough to enjoy the world, and you can’t do this without money. I was very privileged and blessed to have grown up in a well-off family and it scares me that I won’t be able to achieve this lifestyle for myself, and maybe one day, my family. Even though I’m only 22, I have a fear of this.
I have to keep continually reminding myself that I’m part of something bigger, which is something I may never understand. Either way, I need to stop being scared to succeed. Many decisions I make in my life may not be the right ones, but I’m hoping whatever route I choose after graduation is a step in the right direction.
If you’re on the job hunt (like myself), it can difficult to decipher the true difference between designer/developer – and how far the line between each discipline becomes blurred. As a student, it can be extremely overwhelming to see job ads with lists of required skills that, maybe you haven’t learned yet, or don’t feel comfortable enough to apply for a job. Applying for designer jobs doesn’t need to be completely disheartening.
Here’s a quick description of each role. Bear in mind that these roles will be slightly different based on the type of company you are applying for and where they anticipate on placing you within the organizational structure. Generally, there is some consensus in the industry about these job descriptions:
Web Designer: Most web designer’s focus solely on UI and asthetic projects, but many developers also call themselves designers. Most designers have knowledge in coding (HTML/CSS) and can turn their own designs into live sites.
Entry-Level/Junior Designer: This is the category that fresh college grads and designers who have less than 2 years experience fall under. Usually, you require a lot of mentoring and time to become as seasoned as regular designers (not a bad thing).
Creative Art Director/Sr. Web Designer: The big boss of the creative scene that manages and designates tasks to the junior designers. Usually designers get “Sr” titles from having 5+ years of experience.
UI/UX Designer: User Interface and User Experience designers focus strictly on product/application design. They analyze how users experience and interact with a product, and continually tweak to make it better.
Mobile Designer: Mobile designers work with mobile devices and design for them accordingly. App design and mobile/responsive websites should be within the mobile designers skill set.
The world of web design is changing at a scary rate. Where once all we needed was Photoshop and Frontpage [joke], now we have to endure list posts like this one telling us to learn more than ever. It is kind of depressing really. Paul Boag
- Design mockups that are clean and intuitive
- Organize complex information that is user-friendly and simple
- Lead development and design initiatives
- Participate in research and planning sessions
- Prototype user interfaces with high and low fidelity mockups
- Plan and work with clients throughout the design process
- Collaborate with others to get feedback
- Continually improve development and release process
- 5+ years experience in design and front-end development
- A great portfolio that demonstrates your design and development skills
- Experience with social media and SEO campaigns
- Mobile/responsive design experience preferred
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills
- Ability to work with clients
- Strong typographic skills
- Experience with digital photography and editing is a bonus
What It Means & How You Should Respond
You may be asking yourself if the company is trying to cram the responsibilities of an entire design agency into a simple person. This might be the case – as some agencies may just hire whoever has the most qualifications or checkmarks on their list. This ad may not seem as overwhelming as it comes off to be. Although the ad is attracting more of a designer, they are also looking for someone who has experience in development. Often times, these “jack of all trades” are hard to find. Let’s break down the ad a little more to see what they are looking for:
- “Design mockups that are clean and intuitive” Looking for someone with a high-quality of design skills and has great attention to detail, with a focus on the end user and how they interact with the product.
- “Organize complex information that is user-friendly and simple” Looking for organizational skills and an ability to prioritize information.
- “Lead development and design initiatives” A person who takes initiative and embodies leadership qualities.
- “Collaborate with others to get feedback” & “Participate in research and planning sessions” A team player who works well with others and takes criticism and feedback well.
- “Continually improve development and release process” You take pride in your work and are passionate about the final result and how you get there.
When you put it in plain english, it doesn’t seem so bad. Many of you have these skills already.
Be weary of the term “requirements.” Many job ads use this term to weed out the less serious applications from getting through. Even if you don’t have a couple of the requirements on the list, sometimes agencies will be willing to train you if you exemplify passion and potential. If you don’t think you’ll get the position, what’s the worst that can happen? – they won’t respond to you. Move on and keep applying.
Your best bet is to be an overall generalist, but a specialistic in one or two topics. What I mean is to have a general working knowledge of parallel disciplines, but be great at one or two specific things. For example, if you’re a designer, your perceived value to a company will double if you have experience with branding, marketing, SEO, social media, copywriting, PHP, etc. You still have to be selective and have a focus, but keep an eye on other fields. This will really help you stand out to potential employers when responding to design job ads.
Talking about money can make anyone uncomfortable, especially for beginners. Being designers, we posses skills that very few individuals have. The good thing for students is that if you’re freelancing while still in school, you’re most likely not relying on a paycheque from month to month, so you can afford to do some jobs for a lesser price (that does not mean free). The problem is, what the hell do you charge?
Why Don’t We Talk About Money?
There’s a couple articles I’ve enjoyed reading on the art of determining a price for web projects, such as “The Dark Art of Pricing” by Jessica Hische and “How Much to Charge for Design Work?” by Jacob Cass. Although these articles and “freelancing formulas” are a good starting point, I feel like the industry as a whole has a hard time landing on hard numbers. For example, “I charge ‘x’ dollars for ’x’ type of work and it will take ’x’ long.” Although there are a lot of factors that can ultimately adjust our pricing, this ambiguity makes it even more difficult for design beginners to come up with a solid hourly rate.
I’ve come up with a few reasons as to why I think it’s hard for creative people to talk about money and how we can overcome it:
We Don’t Know What We’re Worth
Setting a price for your work is a direct correlation between how much value you perceive in your work. This can be very subjective from designer to designer, but often times we don’t even know what our services are worth. Lower prices will most likely garner lower-quality clients, while higher prices are directly associated with higher quality work – matching you with higher-quality clients.
We Like to Be Modest
Nobody likes to be greedy, but designers need to make a living as well. Often times, I will second guess my initial quote for clients simply because I’m not sure how the client will respond. Stick with your gut and stand by your prices; losing a project once and while isn’t a big deal. Make sure you always include a quote for all services rendered, regardless of how small the task is. If you work with the right clients, they will be happy to pay for a higher quality end result.
We Don’t Want to Make More/Less Than the Next Guy
I think a large reason of the problem is that we are so uncertain about what others are charging for the same type of work. I usually start at about $75/hour, and I have been slowly increasing that as I feel my work become more proficient. I’d suggest for design students to begin somewhere in the $25-40 range (USD/CAD) and slowly increase it every project you do. If you think you are charging too little, you most likely are.
Break It Down
In Danny Outlaw’s blog post, he breaks down your hourly price into a few questions you should ask yourself:
1. What services am I pricing?
2. How much does it cost me to run my business?
3. How much money do I want to make?
4. What is everyone else charging?
5. How bad do people want what I have?
6. How good am I at what I do?
7. How long have I been doing this?
8. Will I charge by the hour or by project?
9. How much can my client afford?
10. What’s my business strategy?
I‘ve recently been reading The $100 Startup, which is an excellent book for people looking to break out of the 9-5 work cycle and become self-employed doing something they love. I not only love reading books like this because they are motivating, but because I would love to be able to do that by taking Student Guide to the next level. I know Student Guide has been one of my side projects, but one day, I would love to make a living from it. Ryan Carson’s post on launching a business, not a side project also gave me the motivation I needed to be able to transform this site from a personal project to a business that provides me with the ability to make some extra money.
I’m planning on releasing an eBook on the subject on design portfolios. (With the intention of releasing many more on topics such as clients, internships, etc.) This is what will be included:
1. A complete step-by-step guide to planning and executing an effective portfolio as a design student that gets recognized by potential clients or employers.
2. A bundle of the portfolio articles already published on the website, along with interviews from designers in the industry, worksheets and extra content that isn’t currently available on the website.
3. PDF and ePub formats for desktop, iPad and iPhone.
My goal is to publish by the beginning of August. I’m almost finished the first draft, which is a step in the right direction. Publishing an eBook has definitely provided me with a great learning curve (might write a blog post on how to begin, if people are interested).
I’d love any of your feedback, comments or motivation (I always seem to need some of that). You can follow the progression of the book until the launch date by subscribing to our newsletter or following us on Twitter. You can read a sample chapter that will be included in the book here.