Archive: Jan 2013

  1. Graphic Design Agency or Freelancer: Which is Favourable to your Client?

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    The right design concepts for your clients play a significant role in attracting customers to their business. A business can utilise marketing signs to reach their targeted audience. And signs can be incorporated into offices, billboards and even vehicles. But for a business owner choosing the right people to do your concept can be vital as delivering your goals.

    Also, innovations in technology have made it even more difficult for clients to choose between freelancers and established agencies. Each option presents various advantages in terms of style, system and methodology, but you can read through the following comparisons to help you get into the mindset of a client that’s deciding on who to hire.


    It’s a given that design agencies tend to work with templates and streamlined processes to come up with their project creations. The adherence to schedules and deadlines make it easy for every staff member be fully utilised to work with multiple clients. Creative firms have the experience and resources to work on large accounts as well, and you can expect a more professional approach in dealing with you as a client.

    With freelancers there is a bigger chance of having your design be consistently on top of the priorities. You can often count on them to focus on your project, and the absence of superiors ensures that there won’t be much distractions. In addition, freelancers often involve just a single person or a small group of people, making it less likely for your design to be passed on from person to person.

    Style and Creativity

    Agencies have access to more resources because of their financial state. Management won’t hesitate to fill their library with paid subscriptions and software packages. These compiled assets open up lots of design possibilities. Coupled with a broad range of ideas from teams and departments, the creative agency can deliver you a decent design. You may also check on previous corporate jobs and ask for testimonials on the quality of the agency’s work.

    Freelancers rely on instinct and flexibility in doing their work. Because of the undivided attention being given to your design, you can expect value in terms of originality and imagination. As such, sudden change let’s say from original corflute signs concept to another can be adjustable. There is freedom to experiment on different concepts, and the absence of structured schedules opens up more opportunities for epiphanies—the “eureka” moment when a great idea suddenly pops on your head. Furthermore, the designer won’t have superiors always breathing down their neck to finish the job on time.


    As mentioned, agencies have bigger budgets than freelancers, allowing them to invest on equipment and software. They have the means to keep backups of files and project assets. The team assigned to your design will make it sure that there is adherence to the schedule and deadlines since they need to worry about jobs for other corporate clients as well. If you’re not happy with the final product, a return policy is in place to settle the issue.

    Freelancers provide more flexibility on how the project is run.

    Freelancers provide more flexibility on how the project is run. You can request for adjustments and enhancements, and discussions regarding costs are not limited by company policies regarding pricing. Most freelancers work at home, and it’s usually easier to contact them whenever you want an update on the design. Also, there is no need to seek approval for alterations and modifications in the project. This helps in ensuring that the process is undergone in a consistent pace, without delays and interruptions.


    The choice of designer is usually dependent on the type of project that your clients have in mind. Cost is obviously a factor for them when going with creative agencies, but working with freelancers does not always give the security offered by established firms. However, some clients may like that they can work hand in hand with the freelancer on a consistent basis, which would be practical because the offset cost would have been worth the effort. In any case, you need to know your strengths as a designer. You need to know where you fit and why you might appeal to certain type of client.

    Photo Credit to Dave Makes

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  2. What is the Future for High Street Brands?

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    There’s been a lot of talk in the media recently about big “household name” brands falling  into the realms of administration and other dark legal sounding words. In the UK at least, it’s almost as if every new Monday brings with it the collapse of one of the high street behemoths we all grew up in the shadow of, and I’m sure the case is very much the same for our American designer cousins across the pond.

    The Death of the High Street

    Many of the seemingly omnipotent mega brands that have fallen away over these past few weeks, months and years have had a steadily dwindling presence in our lives. Between Netflix and my iPhone my consumer relationship with companies like Blockbuster and Jessops could at best now be described as superfluous. However, it wasn’t until the fall of HMV that the design community has sat up and taken stock of the events surrounding them.

    Now this could be that designers are, for the most part, people, and as people would probably like film and music. Therefore we can assume that most people will have had some contact with the biggest retailer of film and music on the high street, and in doing so may on some level mourn the passing of a part of their own consumer history.

    Personally I think designer’s took notice because HMV’s branding wasn’t completely shit.

    I think that as a group, we designers can sometimes be a little guilty of pinning the successes and failures of enterprises on the quality of design work that they display, and to an extent, that’s true. A lot of consumer decisions are based on how they ‘feel’ about a company and a lot of the time that comes down to the branding of the company. It comes down to us.

    In the case of HMV however, their branding was pretty good. Not the best, but certainly not bad enough to warrant a complete collapse of the company. Obviously, the problems with HMV ran a lot deeper and it’s failures can be attributed to a stagnant business model and it’s inaction to grasp a hold on the huge downloads market. It could be because Amazon and Play offer the same products way cheaper online, or it could have been because of a thousand other reasons.

    Now HMV has been thrown a potential lifeline, and we can all be glad of that, but the fact remains that in it’s hour of need it’s branding did not protect it. Our efforts as designers did nothing to save this giant from the graveyard.

    If HMV can fall, what company on the high street can call themselves safe?

    The Birth of a New High Street

    I think what we may be seeing the beginnings of here is not the death of the high street so much as a shift in purpose. A rebirth of the high street into something more accessible to public and more open to technology. A place where branding is more important than ever.

    Over the last few years it’s become stunning obvious that brands need to become a lot more personal. The rise in social media usage has paved a way for a new type social approval that all brands desperately require. When a consumer tweets out an irritation with a brand or company, the onus is on that company to respond one on one, even if not requested. It’s not a mass movement yet, but it’s a growing realisation that some of the smarter companies are taking to heart. However, no such effort is being made on the high street where these interactions are actually possibly face to face! The majority of shops still place a counter between the public and the sales rep and hide their products behind glass cabinets or stacks of plastic boxes.

    I find it utterly insane that the high street is offering the exact same purchasing experience I can receive on Amazon minus the user reviews! Currently our stores are simply pretty warehouses where we pick what we want from a stack of hundreds and buy it from an underpaid teenager that doesn’t want to be there.

    It really is no wonder that people are choosing to wait a day for their product to be delivered and stay at home.

    So what needs to happen then?

    The high street needs to stop selling.

    It’s an odd concept I know, but think about this. What if every store was a play room where you could go and just use the products you want to buy. Sure there are still sales reps, but they’re not there for the hard sell, they’re literally there just for information and help. If you want to buy it there and then, then that’s cool, they may have a few purchasable ones in store but more than likely you could just arrange to have the product dropped off at your door that time tomorrow.

    A great example of this is Apple. Everyone know’s they’re killing it right now and it’s because their stores run just like this. There are no stacks of boxes on shelves that require you to know what you buying in advance of walking in through the door. Every product is laid out on a table, ready to be touched and played with. There are sales reps, but none of them ever (in my experience) push for a sale in any way, in fact a lot of the time they’re quite happy to leave you to play. In the event that someone want to buy something, then it can happen right there next to the product, no need to head over to the sales desk.

    At the very core of a system like this is branding. Everything from appearance to service needs to work in synergy. The focus here is to switch from converting sales to making customers feel welcome and comfortable with your products. That means a switch in environment, interaction and engagement. The goal is not the sale of the product, but the adoration of your customer.

    Apple don’t have a consumer base. They have fans.

    All in all, I think the stores of the future will be a place for brands just to touch base with their consumer. A place to say hi and make sure they’re ok. A place to show off a new range or gizmo. There’s no halting the march of dominance that online retailing has set it’s stride for and there really is no need to, but that doesn’t mean that our high streets must pass away into shadows. It just means that they need to evolve into something that online shopping isn’t… Fun.

    Photo Credit to chooyutshing
  3. How Your Website Design Orientation Affects User Experience


    Nowadays, people are probably not as riled up as they were when Facebook first introduced the Timeline model. For a while, a number of users refused to shift from the old format voluntarily because they found Timeline very disorienting, with its two columns and how it has to be processed in a zigzag manner to follow the events chronologically. This just goes to show how important website design orientation is – whether it’s portrait or landscape or a mixture of both, it has to help the user process data on your site better.

    Portrait or Landscape

    To choose the proper design orientation, it depends on a couple of things: the type of content, and the device used for viewing.

    Content: Videos, photos, books, lists

    More often than not, videos are best viewed when in landscape format – think TV screens or monitors. Most sites make sure this is the case when viewers choose to watch the full screen version. On the other hand, when the video is to be viewed along with the description and comments, portrait format is used, assuming that after watching the video briefly, the viewer will immediately scroll down to read or type something else.


    In case of photos, it’s pretty much the same with videos, only that there aren’t so many ‘shots’ within a given time frame, so to speak. Photos would include graphs and charts as well.

    For books and lists, the typical orientation used is portrait – as most books are. The portrait orientation facilitates reading by limiting the left-right movement of the neck and eyeballs. It’s also much easier to see more items on a list given a portrait orientation.

    Device: Desktops, tablets, phones


    We are most familiar with desktops and laptops, but nowadays a lot of browsing is done through mobile devices, and it’s important that your website can be properly viewed through smaller screens. On shifting between portrait and landscape orientations, here are a couple of approaches used:

    Extended: When orientation is changed, it provides additional data on top of what is already shown. It effectively expands the current content.


    Complementary: With the shift, a different perspective is provided regarding the same information, for elaboration or emphasis.


    The shift between orientation has to have a purpose, to engage viewers and keep them coming back.

    Unlike other things, there is no such thing as one size fits all in website design, so make sure to think ahead and consider carefully these two things: what are the most important things you want to get across, and where are viewers most likely to access this information.

    Photo Credit to Robert Scoble

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  4. The Designer Resolution Round Up


    So we’re hitting that mid point in January now where we pause for a second and look back to see how we’re doing with the myriad of new life changing resolutions we resolved to follow a few weeks prior. If you’re anything like me you’re probably starting to realise that maybe you took on a bit much too soon? Personally I’m finding that waking up (WAY) earlier and eating salad for dinner is not really helping with me being super productive with my designs… I’m just tired all the time… and really hungry.

    But don’t worry, it’s cool – this is where we can all sit back and chill for a moment whilst we decide on what resolutions are really the ones we need to be sticking to. Once we get the important ones nailed down and firmly fixed into the ol’routine, we can take another look at those salads.

    This year a lot of my resolutions have been based (as you might imagine) around my design work and my business, so what I’ve decided to do with this article is to reach out to a few designers that I admire and see what kind of resolutions they’ve been implementing around their design businesses for 2013.

    jessica hischeJessica Hische

    A few resolutions of mine:

    1. Try to document all of the people that I meet this year in one way or another.
    2. Finally release a couple of the half-complete typefaces I’ve been working on.
    3. Drink more water.


    Aaron DraplinAaron Draplin – Draplin Design Co

    Here’s a nasty little list:

    01. Gonna make a little less shit for other people.
    02. Gonna make more shit for the DDC.
    03. Gonna eat breakfast each morning. Just something little.
    04. Gonna go wherever they’ll have me.
    05. Gonna fight, scratch to continue to get away with this stuff.
    06. Gonna update the DDC merch store. Gotta get official.
    07. Gonna tune a guitar to open five-string tuning, like Keef.
    08. Gonna listen to more Stones and Zeppelin.
    09. Gonna move my girth a bit more. Less sedentary living, etc.
    10. Gonna make a DDC handkerchief set. Snot rags. Blood clean-up.
    11. Gonna roll the dice in the shop more with Nakamoto.
    12. Gonna see my parents as much as I can.
    13. Gonna see my nephew Oliver as much as I can.
    14. Gonna be the best boyfren to Leigh I can. I’m tryin’, sweetie.
    15. Gonna do my damnedest to make it to 40 this October. Hard to say.


    Alex SingletonAlex Singleton (me!) – Hunting Town Design House

    So this year I have two major goals; to earn enough to get a deposit for a new home, and to spend more time on some of my own personal projects. What I’ve decided to do (seeing as I’m smart like a Fox) is combine the two and try and challenge myself to earn a big chunk of my deposit through my side projects. My fiancée is doing something similar this year as well so we’re going to race to see who can earn the most cash outside of their full time jobs before the end of 2013. The winner gets full control of the spare room. I’m really excited about it and I have a tonne of sweet ideas in the pipeline. If you’re interested, you can follow out progress at


    Mark BrickeyMark Brickey – Hero Design Studio

    “Don’t let the world around you, Control the world inside of you” -Farside

    The above lyric is going to be my design motto in 2013. I’m going to try and fight like hell to live within my own internal check-list of dream projects. I’m not going to worry about who’s going to hire us next or what we’ll do when the current project wraps up. I’m going to use all of my energy to enjoy the quiet spots in the schedule. To embrace the internal Hero projects and know that my best work, is the work that I do for myself, and that doing your best work always creates bigger and better opportunities.


    jeff finleyJeff Finley – Go Media

    · Boost my breakdance training to twice per week

    · release a demo with my new band Campfire Conspiracy

    · Organize/declutter my house

    · Write a kick ass new tutorial for

    · Pull off the 4th annual Weapons of Mass Creation Fest, hope to pull in 2,000+ attendees

    · Keep better records and metrics for each of Go Media’s websites including Mockup Everything, Proof Lab, Arsenal, On the Map, and WMC Fest

    · Redesign and track the conversions more accurately and optimize it

    · Continually try to live in the present and appreciate what I have.

    · Go on a quiet vacation with my wife.


    Brent GallowayBrent Galloway

    My new year resolutions as a freelance graphic designer is to grow my connections, make reliable client relationships, and make the time to work on my own personal projects.

    With the redesign of my website, I want to write more meaningful content – I want to share my experiences and process for anyone that’s interested in reading it.

    Finally, I hope to get out more. I’d love to make it out to a design event such as WMC Fest, or maybe just to meet some like-minded creatives.


    Preston Lee – Graphic Design Blender

    For the new year, I plan to provide some insanely useful new content for my readers: both video and written. As for my personal design business, I plan to find a handful of steady clients that will need work done each month so I can ensure a more expected and steady income. I also want to really rock responsive this year.


    billy baumannBilly Baumann – Delicious Design League

    Our New Year’s Design Resolution would be to finally get our new website launched. I’ve been working on and off on our new branding since 2011 and we’re finally ready to roll it out with a finished website – well, most of it at least.


    erikErik Marinovich

    My resolution this year is to make a large scale lettering piece. I’m not saying ‘big’ as if only viewable by satellite but ‘big’ like a gallery wall or the side of a building.


    AIDMark Brickey & Billy Baumann – Adventures in Design Podcast

    My 2013 New Year’s Resolutions for Adventures In Design

    To Keep On, Keeping On!

    The first year was such a wild ride, that totally blew away any expectations that I had for the podcast. Every time we create as artist, we have a dream of how far a project could go, and so far this project has taken off like a rocket ship, now orbiting where I thought it would be. So for 2013 I just want to keep pushing it, more guests, more live shows/appearances, more harassing telemarketers! Also, in between episodes of our show, by the means of our blog, we want to offer daily inspiration and conversation… Lastly, I want to get to know more people! Year one of AID brought so many new people into my virtual and real world. I can’t wait to meet even more people while living in California, traveling to Hero shows and making live AID appearances. I love the Circle of Trust, and do not take for granted what we have only started to create… A DESIGN GANG!!


    jon voglJohn Vogl – The Bunglaoo

    2012 was a tough year with a death of a close friend, a painful breakup, and dealing with some depression. Working through it reminded me of why I do what I do; I love it, and I’m fortunate to make a living doing it. At the same time, life is all about balance, and I want to focus on working smarter not harder. I plan to make 2013 all about enjoying my life outside of work, as much as I do my life in my work.


    james flamesJames Flames

    Working for myself, and being my own boss, I think the natural inclination is to become comfortable with my own inner boss/worker relationship – arriving at decisions and solutions more quickly based on what may have happened previously. Which is fine. Efficiency is great. But I kinda wanna make sure that the boss side of me becomes more and more of a tougher boss, not an easier one. “Do it again, this time the right way!” will only serve me better than, “They loved it before, so they’ll love it this time – it’s fine as-is!”.

    That said, I also need to take a few more breaks to have more human interaction, cuz this whole inner boss/worker relationship and dialogue could turn into a serious mental illness if I’m not careful, hahaha.

    Photo Credit to bayasaa

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