Some days you kick out great work like it’s nobody’s business. Some days you can do nothing right and feel like you’ll never design anything worthwhile ever again. Everyone has been there, and its incredibly frustrating – especially when your deadline is looming. So next time you’re wrestling with a bout of Designer’s Block, try a few of these tips and strategies that AgencyTool gathered from a few fellow sufferers.
1. Sketch it Out
Go old-school and pull out a pencil and paper or whiteboard. If you find yourself stuck do some brainstorming sketching first. If you are completely stuck just doodling can help to get the creative juices flowing. If you have a vague glimmer of a plan formed you can cross out, change, and put fresh ideas down faster than with any of the design programs out there. This way if you suddenly don’t really like how the design is going it will take you all of 2 seconds to scratch it out and start again. Voila, no “but I’ll lose all the progress I’ve made” dilemmas.
2. Just Let it Go
Say you make some type of kick-a** component, an awesome button, icon – whatever. But this great piece of art just doesn’t fit into the design you’re currently working on. You spent so much time and effort making your icon that you find yourself trying to change the entire design (and possibly getting stuck) just so you can include it. Words of advice from great designers…’Just let it go’. Save your glorious button for another day and get your focus back.
Also under the ‘let it go’ category – don’t be afraid to step away from a design that’s just not working. Let it go for a few hours/days then come back to it. Then, if you’re still stuck, consider just letting it go altogether. Instead of forcing something that isn’t quite right you’ll open up to ideas that might work better.
3. Switch it Up
Don’t use the same techniques over and over again. When stuck, people have a tendency to fall back on tried and true components, resulting in a design that looks like everything else you’ve done before. Force yourself to branch out and create something that looks different from your previous work. Experiment with color, technique, layout or change locations by getting out of your office – just switching up your routine may be enough to get you out of the slump.
4. Take a Look at Galleries
There are a lot of gallery inspiration sites around, set aside an hour or so and just take a look through them. Sometimes all you need is a kick in the pants. Just be careful not to cross the line between being inspired by someone else’s work and stealing it.
5. Ask for Input
Ask people whose opinions you trust and who will be able to give you specific feedback and constructive criticism. Steer clear of people who don’t have any design experience or tell you that ‘it just doesn’t feel right’, you’ll end up spending hours trying to figure out what’s wrong and how to fix something that may be perfectly good. This can be a bit tricky – see the SEOmoz blog on this topic: How to Ruin a Web Design
It’s cliche to use the batting average example but it does fit. You’re not going to knock one out of the park every single time you sit down to complete a design. It might be a good thing to lower your expectations just a bit – not everything you produce is going to be great. Once you take the pressure off and realize that even the best designers run into this wall you’ll be over it in no time.