10 Design Hacks That Skyrockets Your Workflow | Stella Guan | Skillshare

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10 Design Hacks That Skyrockets Your Workflow

teacher avatar Stella Guan, Award-Winning Visual Designer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

11 Lessons (29m)
    • 1. Intro | Not Your Cliche Advice

    • 2. "The Perfect First Draft"

    • 3. Early Communications

    • 4. "Read Between the Lines"

    • 5. Peer Power

    • 6. Don't Think Like A Designer

    • 7. Your Client is Your Best Friend

    • 8. Reverse Engineer Your Competition

    • 9. Define Your Selling Point

    • 10. Habitual Reading

    • 11. Rinse and Repeat

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About This Class

Are you stressed about the amount of design projects that come your way and you can't seem to keep up? If you feel that you're working too slow, you're not alone. Especially if you are early in your career, it is completely normal to feel overwhelmed by the amount of work you're assigned to. As you grow as a designer, it is important to learn how to work quickly and effectively.

In this course, I will introduce you to 10 highly-effective techniques that will help you become a rockstar designer that turns around projects before your clients expect them. These are not cliché advice that tells you to "stay organized", but practical tips that have stood test of real-life fast-paced environments.

After completing this course, you will be able to:

  1. Design a landing page in under 2 hours
  2. Shorten your average time spent on any design project
  3. Feel confident about your ability to work fast as a designer
  4. Exceed client expectation on delivery time
  5. Build better relationship and get more business from clients
  6. Get great feedback on annual reviews

Just like the nature of creative careers, working faster as a designer is more of an art form than science. You will become better as you practice more but it is important to know how!

Meet Your Teacher

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Stella Guan

Award-Winning Visual Designer


Hi, I'm Stella, an award-winning multi-disciplinary visual designer. With experience working for top design agencies and in-house creative teams at large global organizations, I bring years of experience in designing for the web, application, brand identity and print. I have taught design intro classes at tech startups and offered private instructions to working designers who want to improve their skills and work faster. Through my experience working in fast-paced environments with demanding clients, I have developed a reputation for my fast turnaround time and high-quality design. I'd love to share my design tips and tricks to help you get to the next level in your creative career!

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1. Intro | Not Your Cliche Advice: Hi, My name is Stella Guan. I'm a designer with experience, working with top agencies and house creative teams at large global organizations on the winner of six International design Awards and a judge at a number of design competitions. I have years of experience in designing for the Web application brand identity imprint. I haven't taught designing for Acosta's at tech startups for instructions to working designers who want to improve their skills and work faster. Through my experience for King and fast paced environments with demanding clients, I have developed a reputation, my fast turnaround time and high quality design. I'd love to share my design tips and tricks to help you get to the next level and you created career. Since starting my design career, I've been then touring designers on a regular basis, and one of the questions I get asked all the time is how do I work? Master, the ability to work faster, smarter is a great quality that employers and clients look for. In an industry as competitive as ours, designers need to be able to market themselves to stand out from the crowd. One of the best ways to do this is to show clients that you're not only able to deliver high quality design on time, but you can even deliver early. So how do you do this? In this course, I'll be covering 10 highly effective techniques that will get you created juice flowing faster than ever. I'm gonna take you through different scenarios of where and how designers often get stuck, and how to reshape your thought process to get unstuffed, thes air. Not the cliche advice that you confined everywhere on the Internet that tells you to get organized. We'll take a break when you need Teoh. While these are perfectly solid advice, they're not targeting specific problems. After taking this course, you'll be equipped to quickly make design decisions and in pressure clients with high quality work before they even expected. I highly encourage you to take my to our design challenge for a chance to win a free one year skills. Your membership, I have to dio, is free the description in the class project tap and get started with designing a simple landing page in two hours before we go, Please follow me on skill share, get started on a class project and write an honest review for the course. I can't wait to virtually meet every one of you and help you get the most out of this learning experience. 2. "The Perfect First Draft": I still in here? In this lesson, we're gonna talk about the perfect first draft. A lot of designers are perfectionists. While taking the time to find two details is a highly desirable quality for a designer, spending too much time working on the first draft and waiting too long to show the client can actually be a waste of time. Let me give you an example. You are making rounds of self critiques on designing a brochure with stunning images. You picked out that you thought just perfect for the content. When you deliver the perfect first draft to the client, you're surprised to learn that they actually prefer illustrations. Of course, in an ideal world, this would have been specified in a creative brief. But in the fast his business environment, not everything's runs according to the format. In order they should, and you would have wasted a tremendous amount of time perfecting the first draft and looking in the wrong direction. Now some of you may ask, How do I know if I'm spending too much time on the first draft? How much time is too much time? If I'm telling you that there's a specific number then I'd be lying because there isn't Every project is different and every situation is unique. But I'm going to tell you that the rule of thumb is show you first. Draft your client when it's about 80% ready. If you're not confident to hand it over to the client just yet, that's fine. Get your coworker or a pew. Designers feedback when you know it's not ready. There was a great relationship with your client and let them know that you won't be showing them a perfect first draft. Be honest with them on how design process works and ask that they give you as much feedback as possible so that the second and the third draft will be significantly better, is the same thing and career development and in life in general. If you wait too long to show the world what you're capable of doing, you're ready to wait because thousands of other people already show them and your achievement won't be as impressive. So get that first draft out there while it's still hot. Of course, I won't suggest creating low quality work that's not even close to what the client is looking for. It's all about developing your best judgment that you're not ready and having the guts to fire off that first draft when you know it's not perfect. Before we end a lesson I'd love to hear if you consider yourself a perfectionist. If so, how much time do you spend on creating a first draft before you show it to the client? 3. Early Communications: I sell here. In this lesson, we're gonna talk about the importance of engaging different partners we collaborate with early in the design process. I know a lot of designers, myself included, like to work alone because we need to concentrate in the real business world. We have to collaborate with different partners, like developers if we're creating Web or application based projects or printers. If were producing print based designs early in my career, I've made the mistake of creating the entire design without consulting my team members who were supposed to develop my design into a webpage. When I headed over my design, my developer pointed out a few elements that are unrealistic to be developed in the time frame that we had, and I had to go back and redo my whole design. Imagine that a poor your heart and soul into creating something so creative and out of the box, only to find out that it can't be done. The frustration and regret was riel and the creative team. Everyone has their own expertise. Designers won't know as much about coding as developers, and that's why we work as a team to complete the project, engaging our partners early on to make sure that we understand technical and production challenges that need to be taken into consideration when making design decisions before we enter lesson. I'd love to hear if you have run into a similar situation before, what do you wish you would have done differently? Leave a comment down below the video. I can't wait to hear your stories. 4. "Read Between the Lines": Hi, Stella. Here in this lesson, we're gonna talk about read between the lines. What I mean by read between the lines is the ability to skin re copy really quickly and pick up keywords that will help you create visual solutions for whatever projects you want . A lot of my colleagues know that I don't really read the content that I design. When I said I don't read it doesn't mean that I don't know what I'm designing for. I know very quickly by skimming through the coffee and quickly picking out key words that I need to be researching for our profession is focused on creating visual solutions, so we shouldn't be spending too much time in consuming the details of the written words. There are two ways to go about doing this. The 1st 1 is if your partner in the project, whether it is your copywriter, your project manager or whoever else knows the content really well, is willing to help you highlight a few key points. By all means, reach out for their help. Before you start designing, they're likely to know which keywords and sections are important and should be highlighted . That saves you a lot of time by having them lay down the groundwork for you. Now the 2nd 1 is dissecting the content himself. If you don't have any help, watch out for statistics that stand out clothes that sounds impactful, sentences that summarize the content or a group of statistics that could be turned into a graph or infographics. Look out for repeated keywords and quickly highlight them. For your reference, read all the section headings to make sure that you get a basic understanding of the structure of the content to help you make informed design decisions. To give you an example, Miss, take a look at how you could quickly make design decision for this article that's published on The Economist. To start off, I would quickly do a scroll from top to bottom and see if anything cashes my eyes. Now I can see that there are a few statistics, like $50 a ton in 2025 to $200 a ton in 2050 but I could potentially pull out, and there are a few quotes like I'm certain by 2060 we'd have built a zero carbon economy and the cost of doing so would be trivial. These numbers look like they could be potential candidates for graphic treatments. Additionally, there are a few sentences that are either highlighted in italics or appear at the end of a paragraph, which is usually a summary of the ideas of that paragraph like this one. If everyone does, a little will achieve on Lee a little. Also pay attention to indicate awards like 1st 2nd and third at the beginning of a paragraph. There are usually very helpful because you can use them to divide articles into sections and give each section a different treatment. And finally, just by skim reading the article, we can quickly pinpoint that the article was about carbon emission. So if we need to find relevant images to insert as header or content image, we know exactly what he was still hopeful. Now I'm pretty much ready to design. How long does it take? A couple of minutes. I didn't even know what exactly the articles talking about, but I'm pretty sure that I'm on the right track to finding the design solution it needs without wasting time to read the whole article. Now, this is a relatively short article so it may not seem like a big deal, but sometimes if we're doing designed for annual reports or really complex research papers , this skim reading technique could be a huge time saver. Before we go, I want you to look for a random article from a news website and see if you can quickly identify ways to do a wet treatment for it. I'm curious to see what you guys come up with. I encourage you to submit your design to the class Project gallery that can provide you with some feedback. 5. Peer Power: I still hear in this lesson, we're gonna talk about how to leverage your fellow designers for you back to work faster. I'm aware that not every designer has the opportunity to do this because some of you work alone in your home office or while traveling the world, but their work arounds to help you achieve the same result, which I'll get into in this lesson. So those of you walk in team environments, you're in luck because one of the best resource is is sitting right next to you your design colleagues. Now, I know some of you are shy to ask questions or feedback because you're afraid that it makes you look West competent as a designer. That's exactly how I felt when I first started my career. I was eager to prove myself that I'm talented by showing everyone that I could come up with ideas on my own and guess what I could. It and I felt receded. But one time a designer, more senior than myself, came over and asked my opinion on her design. I was shocked and flatter at the same time because I didn't think this was even possible After that, I got more comfortable asking other designers to chime in when I'm struggling with the project, you'd be surprised by how quickly you can get unstuck by just asking a simple question. Sometimes we're so close to a project we couldn't see the big picture, while other designers will be able to provide a fresh perspective that you would never have thought of and your problem could be instantly solved Now, if you work in a remote team, you can actually quickly send a draft to a fellow designer by a chats or slack groups to get their thoughts. Or you can even text your designer friends and see if they have a quick minute to look over your project. If you're the only designer you know, take advantage of Internet forms to ask questions. Of course, the downside is that you won't be able to get an answer as quickly as you would in a team environment, but it's still a good solution, as your project isn't do immediately before we go, I'm curious to hear if you have leverage your design colleagues to help you work faster in the past. If you haven't, I encourage you to reach out. Next time you work on a project, you'd be surprised how easy it is. And your colleague will most likely take it as a compliment. 6. Don't Think Like A Designer: Hi. Still here. In this lesson, we're gonna talk about how not to think like a designer. A lot of us became designers because we love beautiful things, were hypersensitive to conceal of everything, and most of us have impeccable taste. But that doesn't make us great designers because we can't start designing based on what we think would work best. Well, we're the expert and aesthetics typography, color choices, layout etcetera were not necessarily thinking like the user who will ultimately be the consumer of her design. That's why user experience designers and researchers are necessary. We often have to work closely with them for print projects. We also have other gatekeepers, such as project managers, researchers, art directors who have more knowledge of what our users and readers will like. However, when we work in small teams, sometimes we don't have access to these people who understand the users. So what do we dio? We need to wear the U. S and research hat ourselves because it actually makes our design better and ultimately safe time on back and forth with the client because we're not the expert at us. If we have to understand a user at a preliminary level. The most important question to ask is. What do you want them to get out of this product, and how do you make it the simplest to navigate? Sometimes what we think it's obvious is not so obvious to the average user. That's when feedback from people who are not designers comes in handy. For example, when you have a rough draft for an application, explain it to your family member or non designer friends. How it works. Ask him if anything doesn't make sense, most of them will give you honesty back. If you could ask a few of them right then just lying on one person, it's kind of a quick and dirty way to increase your sample size. I have found it very helpful because in a few occasions I was able to find flaws and my decide quickly just by asking my friends and family what they think. Of course, we should be reading and learning about user experience related tutorials, articles to improve our knowledge of how the users think and behave. The more we dio, the more likely we can think like a user and not a designer. Before we go I challenge you to find an application you have on your phone and jot down what you have, what you would have done differently, then asked some of your non designer friends or family members which part of the application and noise them the most, compared your notes with their thoughts and see how they differ. 7. Your Client is Your Best Friend: hi selling here. In this lesson, we're gonna talk about how some of our clients are not as clueless as we think. I know a lot of us have a love hate relationship with their clients. We lost them because they pay us. But we often get frustrated when they don't understand our design or my little Penis on time. But have you considered that some of your clients might actually be able to help you when you get stuff? Is definitely nerve racking if you're trying to ask your clients to help you for the first time, because it's supposed to be the other way around. But from my experience, some of my plans in the past have been really good partners. When I found a problem that I was struggling to resolve, I have reached out to my clients and ask for their thoughts on what the best solution is. Of course, this has to be done in the right way. For example, you can ask your clients what type of images they are looking for, but you shouldn't ask them to pick out the images for you. Of course, some clients will be willing to san examples that they like, which will be super helpful. The rules some is. Don't be afraid to ask your clients for a little bit extra directions that they have given you initially. If you're trying to download down what they're looking for, instead of you guessing what they like, you just saved yourself a huge chunk of time. Before we go, I want you to think about in the past. If you have a client who has been a great partner to you. If you're still working with them, ask them to give you some pointers next time you run into a problem. If you're no longer working with them, send them a thank you note for their kindness. It is never too late to build good relationships with your clients, and you can start right now. 8. Reverse Engineer Your Competition: I'm still here in this lesson. We're gonna talk about reverse engineering your competitors war and figure out how to apply the same techniques to your design. So why would you do this anyway? Because we all learned from examples, and a lot of our competitors are actually doing amazing things. This is a smarter way to find inspiration and borrow the good stuff of them. Instead of making our design similar to what our competitors are doing, we look at their design and figure out their thought process and, in turn, apply it. Tourist. The end result is often amazing design of our own, but it won't look anything similar to our competitors. So how do you accomplish this? Let me give you an example. Stay that you're about to design brand identity and business cards for a young tech company . The text here is full of the color blue, and you definitely don't want your designed to look like that. You can start looking at how other people are designing. There's let's say that you stumbled upon this collection of business card inspirations and that's you scroll down. You see something like this. This is a designer's personal business card. Not exactly your competitors, er, but the vibrant, radiant colors and the swirling thin lines that resemble fingerprints caught your eyes. Your judgment tells you that this type of south could work for your tech line. Now you start to wonder what the design process for this card was like. First of all, the designer probably had it in mind that bright colors were necessary to convey the young fun vibe but didn't really want to make the brand too flashy because it needs credibility. So choosing a bright radiant asked the accent. Color makes perfect sense. If you're up to date on to sign trends, you probably remember that thin lines are inside recently. They're really powerful because you can use them as patterns. Illustrations incorporate them into your logo, etcetera. They look really chic, but that won't be enough because your design has to tie into the subject matter in some way . In your case, it would be tech find out what kind of technology the company sells and start researching simple ISMs for that type of products. If the company does biotechnology, then maybe something similar to the fingerprint patterns would be perfect. If the company does robotics. Fine inspirations of abstract robot illustrations that could be stylized as icon patterns or design elements for the brand. At this point, you're almost done with the reverse engineering. The rest is fairly straightforward. You will investigate what kind of typography works for this company and what kind of layout can accommodate the information they want to put on business cards and other branding materials. Before we go, I would like to buy you to practice reverse engineering a piece of design you really like. It can be anything from a go shore, but cover animated headers, landing page or mobile applications. Write a brief outline of what you think their thought process. Waas. I can't wait to see what you guys come up with. 9. Define Your Selling Point: Hi, Stella. Here. In this lesson, we're gonna talk about how to create a selling point for your design. If you want to save time and create outstanding design, narrow down on one thing that you want your audience to remember first before you dive into the details. If you ever come across designs that look amazing, but you forget about it the next day. That's because they don't have a selling point. It doesn't have to be out of this world unique. But if you have one standout element, your audience will remember your work and your clients will love it When you have decided what you need to focus on, you have a much easier time figuring out the rest of your design, and that saves you a lot of time. Let's look at a few examples. Let's say that you really want our animation to stand out, and you want to design some cool micro interactions like this one. After you decide that this is gonna be your selling point, you know that you'll need to spend more time to decide these interactions. Then you can strategically allocate time for other elements of your design, which is gonna take less high or if you want to create a really cool effect that follows your cursor around like this one. But you're not familiar with how it really works, so you know immediately that would be time to do research. That knowledge itself helps you plan your workflow much more efficiently than if you just start without knowing your selling point. Of course, design is never a lean your process. It's OK not to know your selling point at the beginning. If you're having trouble defining it, by all means, move on to the simpler tasks you can do first and get them at the way. But as you go, remember to ask yourself to think about your selling point. What makes your design stand out? As soon as you saw office, you hit a breakthrough, and everything else will be easier. Before we go, I want you to take a look at a piece of design have done in the past and see if you can find one thing that stands out. If not, what would you have done differently now to create a selling point for it? This exercise will help train your mind to focus on dividing up the design process and allocate your time effectively to achieve the best possible results 10. Habitual Reading: I'm still here in this lesson, we're gonna talk about developing a reading routine that can help you are faster. How? Maney. If you re designed blocks and articles on a daily basis, I know a lot of you are very busy, especially if you're also running your own business. There's always not enough time for projects. Little reading. I used to think that I can't possibly have time to read, either into the certain extent it's still true. I absolutely do not have time to read novels, but I did manage to squeeze in a little time to read through design blocks on a daily basis . Even if you don't have time to read any words, I would encourage you to at lease, follow a few design account on Instagram to get your daily inspirations. This is so important because once you start working, you're not gonna be up to speed on the latest trends and best practices. If you don't find time to read and you don't want to be that designer, everybody thinks it's old school because even though you have a great foundation, this is a field that is always changing, so you're marketability will decrease if you stopped learning. The good news is for us Designers. Reading means most Anglican pictures. That's a whole lot more fun than reading research papers, Right? No matter what your lifestyle is, try to squeeze in at least 5 to 10 minutes a day to check out what other people are doing. Let me show you where I find my design inspirations from For your eye looks in Suppose I follow this account on INSTAGRAM called daily dot u dot u x. The design. The future are beautiful and they're mostly animated so he can see the interactions right away. For general design inspirations, I'd like to follow a I g ays. I own design account, which you can find at a i g A. I on design the future. A variety of design from brochure to poster packaging, business cards, books, etcetera. Once you start following a couple of design accounts, Instagram Bull suggests a bunch of related accounts that you can also check out. It's actually a very addictive process because you just want to keep falling new accounts. This is a great user experience design, by the way, capitalizing on people's addictive behavior must our detriment but to Instagram's benefit. Before we go, I love to hear what your favorite source of designers British it is. Tell us your favorite design, blawg or INSTAGRAM account handles in a common section I can't wait to see. 11. Rinse and Repeat: hi. Still here. In this lesson, we're gonna talk about how to create peaceable processes to help you work faster. No matter what design program used, there's always a way to create shortcuts to the actions you perform frequently. I have to admit that I've also been lazy on doing this because it sounds like a project on its own. And to be honest it is, but you'll thank yourself for it later. It definitely takes time to set up your repeatable actions, but it's a once and for all kind of project, and you can keep adding onto the library as you go. For example, if you work in adobe light room a lot, you'll probably want to create your own presets so you can keep your retouching workflow, consistent and fast. It's super easy to create. Basically, you'll perform Audie entity actions you would normally do to a photo and then go to the developed drop down menu and choose preset new preset if you test it well enough to make sure that preset is usable for photos in different situations, you can even sell your presets for extra income. If you're a Web designer and you use sketch. You can also create body and header textile and save color palettes that you use frequently , so that next time you put up the application there right there for you, the same thing goes for Adobe Illustrator in Design and Photoshopped, which I won't go into details for the sake of time. There are plenty of easy tutorials either fear on Seo share or on YouTube that you confined to help you get started. Creating repeatable processes is like building your personal design toolbox. It's a fun process that saves you a lot of time and even makes you extra money. So why not give it a try before we end this class? I'd love to thank everyone who tune in and staying with me. It's been a fun journey. I hope you learn something useful that you can apply it to your design routine, and I look forward to seeing you again in another course.