6 Non-Design Skills You Need as a Designer

There is more to being a designer. Your overall success is dictated by more than just what is in your portfolio.

Communication Skills

Good communication is a cornerstone of good design. After all, design is about visual communication. You have to go beyond the visual and communicate well, both in writing and verbally, to be able to get your ideas across to clients and employers.

Marketing Skills

At the end of the day it matters less about it “looking cool”, and more about its ability to close sales. This is something that many designers learn the hard way throughout the course of their career

Drawing Skills

While it is not always necessary to be able to draw in order to be a designer, it doesn’t hurt. Additionally, strong drawing skills will set you apart from the crowd and make your life as a designer much easier. Being able to develop ideas and concepts before you get to the computer is important, so that when you do go digital you’re not overwhelmed by the tools and options available. Being able to handle drawing with pencil and paper means that when you get to the computer, you will be executing on your ideas instead of staring at a blank screen that matches the blank you’re drawing in your mind.

Networking Skills


Networking also allows you to connect with other people in your industry or in the creative services world in general. These individuals may be able to pass along information or resources that can help you, introduce you to people in a position to create some other value for you, or act as a mentor.

Research and Planning Skills

Something often overlooked by designers is the importance of good research, as well as strategic planning. Delivering quality design work is about more than just creativity—it’s also about context. You can’t design something with the proper context in mind for the audience if it is subject matter you are unfamiliar with or uninterested in.

In terms of planning, you need to have a workflow and strategy for approaching each project. Knowing the steps from beginning to end and being able to adapt them as needed for each situation is going to make your work more efficient and cause you less anxiety about deadlines. Being in a position to breakdown your process for a client or employer is also going to give them less anxiety as well.

Bonus: Empathy

Empathy is probably the best kept secret to being a good designer. The ability to empathize with your clients and their struggles, as well as those of the end user/customer, ensures that you are making design decisions with the right intent.


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How To Set Your Desk Up For The Most Productive Workday Ever

You may have your work routine down to a science, from where you prefer to grab some quiet space to the exact time you take a lunch break. But there’s one very important element you may be forgetting when it comes to success in the office: Your desk.

How you use your workspace — from the way you sit to the way you decorate — can influence overall productivity and creativity. Simple things like knowing how to place your feet on the floor or when to hit pause on Pandora can all make a difference in optimizing work efficiency.

Taking pride in your workspace could make the difference in your office happiness. Research shows if you’re joyous and satisfied at work, your productivity increases.

Take a look at the infographic below to see how exactly to set up your desk for success. To-do list: demolished.


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New Year, New Music

A new year is here and with that comes the need to be productive and organized so you can start the year off right. What better way to do that than with brand new play lists?

With endless possibilities at your fingertips, it can be hard to nail down just the right tunes to get the wheels turning …

As it turns out, there are a ton of studies that explore the influence of specific types of music as they relate to your productivity levels. Whether you’re into Mozart or Jay Z, you’ll find something that will do the trick. 

1) Classical Music

One of the most frequently cited studies related to music and productivity is the “Mozart Effect.” This popularized hypothesis that listening to Mozart would improve the intelligence of the listener stemmed from research conducted in the early nineties by researchers Gordon Shaw, Frances Rauscher, and Katherine Ky.

2) Video Game Soundtracks

Whether you’re a hardcore gamer or you’ve never picked up a controller in your life, video game soundtracks might just be the solution to your concentration woes.

Think about it: Playing a video game requires a lot of focus. To make it to the next level, players commonly have to avoid traps, dodge obstacles, and escape a handful of “near death” experiences. As a result, the music selection for video games is often very strategic, in that modern soundtracks tend to reflect epic, inspiring cinematic scores rather than just basic sound effects.

3) Nature Sounds

According to psychophysical data and sound-field analysis published in The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, listening to “natural” sounds could enhance cognitive functioning, optimize your ability to concentrate, and increase your level of satisfaction.

Think: Waves crashing, birds chirping, streams trickling, etc.

The research suggests that these sounds function similarly to white noise, which is often used in offices as a sound masking system.

4) Pump Up Songs

After realizing that many athletes arrive at the stadium wearing headphones or listen to music in the locker room, Kellog School of Management professor Derek Rucker and three of his colleagues — Loran Nordgren, Li Huang, and Adam Galinsky — set out to answer the question: Does listening to the right kind of music make us feel more powerful or in control?

By using a rating system to determine which “empowering” songs they’d used to conduct the experiment, the researchers deemed Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” 2 Unlimited’s “Get Ready for This,” and 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” as the winners. To gauge how the music would influence their behavior, they asked participants to listen to the music and then determine whether or not they’d like to go first or second in a debate. As it turned out, those who listened to the high-power playlist volunteered to go first almost twice as often as those who listened to a less powerful playlist.

5) Instrumental Songs

A recent study by Carol A. Smith and Larry W. Morris of Middle Tennessee State University revealed that students who listened to “sedative” music during a test scored higher than those who listened to lyrical music. 

This isn’t to say that it’s entirely impossible to cross things off your list while listening to songs with words, but if you’re finding that the lyrics are becoming too distracting, you may want to experiment with some instrumental options. 

6) “Feel Good” Songs

a76e7d68bfcdf5ef_Mic-Brush.xxxlarge_1.jpgSometimes the best remedy for productivity loss is a solid dose of “feel good” tunes — you know, the type that makes you reach for your hairbrush microphone.

Scientifically speaking, when you’re listening to music, it’s possible for your brain to release dopamine during peak moments of emotion arousal. 


{8} Ways to Make Your Morning More Productive


1) Create your to-do list for the day.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to get organized first thing in the morning, spend some time listing the things you need to accomplish that day. The extra time you’re able to take thinking about each task could help you prioritize and set realistic expectations.

2) Clear your inbox.

There’s something so satisfying about arriving at the office with a clean inbox. That’s why I like to go through emails and delete anything extraneous before I even get in to work. It saves me at least a half hour and a loss of momentum during my most productive time of day.

3) Set and check in on your goals.

How are those New Year’s resolutions going? I thought so. A great way of keeping track of your goals — and make sure you’re setting them in the first place — is by checking your progress regularly and finding ways to stay motivated.

4) Listen to a podcast or audiobook.

If you’d rather not spend any more time staring at a screen during your commute, then listening to a podcast or audiobook can be a really pleasant way to spend any length of time. Plus, you’ll learn a lot of really cool information you can impress your friends with later.

5) Read the articles you’ve bookmarked.

Using the Pocket app, you can save articles (and videos, and pretty much any type of content) in one place for easy reading on your commute. You can save content directly from your browser, emails, or from over 500 apps like Twitter, Flipboard, Pulse, and Zite. So while Evernote is a great app for long-term content storage, Pocket is perfect for bookmarking stuff to read later.

6) Read the newest posts from your favorite online sources.

Want to catch up on the latest content from your favorite blogs or online news sources? Feedlyis an RSS reader that lets you subscribe to the publishers you never want to miss a post from. You can separate them into different lists, mark articles as “read,” and even browse for new content.

7) Get your social media fix out of the way.

Chances are, browsing and posting on your personal social media accounts isn’t a part of your job. Help resist the urge to check your news feeds and notifications at work by doing it to your heart’s content during your commute.

8) Set a step goal for the day.

A great way to get more exercise and burn more calories throughout the day is by building incidental physical activity into your daily routine. If that sounds like your style, use an app like Fitbit or Withings to set step goal for each of your commutes.

{10} Things You Need to Know About Dating a Designer


They are always right
You may think it will be fun to re-decorate your living room with the help of your designer partner, but you’re wrong. It’s not fun. Not unless you are familiar with Pantones, rules of aesthetics and tungsten lighting. Forget mixing your Mexicali rug with a French provincial coffee table, it’s just not going to happen. It goes against the theme, babe.

Ditch Microsoft Word. And Publisher. And PowerPoint.
They will scoff at your use of comic sans and appear frustrated when you don’t understand the importance of good kerning. They will take to the formatting of your resume with a hatchet, and the outcome will be spectacularly more professional than your best suit.

They don’t keep office hours
Some days it may seem like they spend hours sourcing GoT memes and sending you links to puppies falling asleep, while other nights you go to bed alone and are woken at 12 am by cold computer hands. It all comes down to good versus evil clients and deadlines. But you can’t say they aren’t proud of their work, you’d be hard pressed to find a designer willing to hand in something sub-par just to make it home in time for Survivor.

They speak another language
It’s called ‘Adobe/CAD’, and you will never understand it.

They freaking love fonts
If your designer is unusually happy today it’s probably because they just stumbled across a bunch of boutique fonts. And they are freaking out. At one stage they may even try to make you watch a documentary on Helvetica. This is normally the point in the relationship where you re-evaluate your life choices.

You’re living with a geek
You’re going to have to come to terms with this. They will geek out over the new iOS home screen and you will not understand why, especially when you’re yelling for them to come upstairs and help you update your laptop because for some reason all your contacts have disappeared.

Gift shopping sucks
It truly sucks. Sometimes you may even resort to typing “stuff designers like” and “birthday presents for designers” into Google in the hope that something amazing and costing approximately $80 (with shipping included) will pop up on your screen. It never happens and nothing will ever be cool/clever enough.

Your wedding invites will be awesome
Think of how amazing they will look. Think of how jealous your friends will be when they go to choose their own sucky wedding cards out of the catalog at the printing store, or worse – order them online. Revel in your own, perfect, custom-made save-the-dates, invites and thank-you cards while you can.

Two is always better than one
If you don’t have two computer screens, you’re an amateur. You don’t have a rechargeable mouse? You’re unprepared.

Form over function
This fact mainly applies to buying groceries and choosing books. Who would buy that

carton of milk when this carton of milk is matte with raised lettering. You think it feels like Braille, and are pretty certain it’s milk for a blind person, but they seem to dig it. Who cares that it costs an extra $4.50?