It’s been 16 years since I’ve started my journey to become a graphic designer. I’ve read a lot of design books, skimmed through design magazines, attended conferences and watched a lot of sci-fi movies to get inspired for the projects I’ve done. But after immersing myself in these different mediums, nothing inspires me more to get things done than a hard deadline. No matter what type of visions you might have for a particular project, it seems to be that we always revert back to what we know and do best – and that is to stay true to classic design solutions and just press on until it’s time to deliver. Here are 5 ways to get your project done when that client needs a new project yesterday.
1. Ignore Everyone and Everything.
So everyone in the office is talking about what you missed on The Colbert Report last night or what’s on the front page of Reddit. You can find out about it after you get home from the office. Hey, maybe you can turn on the tv and some other channel might be talking about that scene you shouldn’t have missed. Better yet, make it a reward for yourself to be able to surf the web after you’ve accomplished an important deliverable. In my reality, what worked best for me was to turn off my work email, my personal email, skype, twitter, facebook and even not answer text messages unless they’re super important. I put my headphones on, get in the zone then create, produce and submit.
2. Have Your Reliable Go-To Sources Handy.
I’m talking about bookmarks filled with handy tools to help estimate different mobile screen sizes such as http://screensiz.es/phone, generate textures with http://noisetexturegenerator.com, test type and font family pairings http://www.typetester.org, and one of my favorites sites to get functionality ideas http://tympanus.net/codrops. Also, remember that your web developers, digital communication specialists and project managers are your best sources. Don’t forget to ask the right questions and demand for your content.
3. Have a Very Thorough Plan of Attack.
One of the best things I’ve learned when a quick deadline is approaching it to be as efficient as possible. So for me to be able to get to my solutions quickly, I spend at least 30 minutes going through all my best realistic options and imagining the worst possible outcomes in my head so I can simplify and narrow down my approach to the project. Sometimes having too much time will just make you daydream about all the possible grand ideas you can implement – but in this case, you’ve got to get a move on. Chop! Chop!
4. Know Your Equipment. By Equipment, I Mean Your Computer.
Everyone knows how to use a keyboard and a mouse. By everyone, I mean even 2 year-old kids. (Trust me I know) Having the ability to know what each button does, what each palette holds, what shortcuts to use and what options to set will guarantee you a smoother and snag-free workflow. There’s no time to second guess your choices. You will have to work like a production line filled with experienced craftsmen building ah… let see, ah.. like an expensive door for a Ferrari.
5. Recycle Unused Ideas.
Somewhere, deep in your files is an awesome design that a previous or even a current client never liked. There is absolutely nothing wrong about re-purposing a solution if the solution is a good fit for the current project. A couple photo edits here, some type style changes there, replace the logo and BAM! – a finished first round mockup. I don’t believe there’s a crime with somewhat plagiarizing your own designs. If anything, it’s the perfect way to jumpstart a new idea.
There you have it. My sure-fire ways of getting a project done in a moment’s notice. We all wish that we have that magical scenario of having 6 months to a year to create an award-winning design piece. But sometimes, clients just want something quick and simple that will work for them – and that might be the reason to default back to our tried and true solutions. If it works, then you just might be able to go home in time to catch The Colbert Report.