How to Feel Good About Your Design Part 2

This is the second part of the “How to Feel Good About Your Design” series. If you’ve missed it, I suggest you read the first part.

In this article, I bring five fresh tips on increasing productivity and feeling good about your work.

Use Templates

Save time and energy and create your own templates. Whenever you start a web site, open a template and start with a firm foundation you’ve created earlier. On my hard drive, I keep XHTML templates with basic structures and a CSS template with several common selectors and declaration blocks. Needless to say, it saves me a lot of time and trouble.

Be sure to check out A CSS Framework from Content With Style if you haven’t.

Keep Your Workplace Clean

Keeping my workplace organized and clean is very important to me. If your workplace is disorganized, you’re really risking losing focus and inspiration. My desk is rather small, so it can get buried with papers real quick. Misplacing an important document or a note can therefore happen easily, so keeping it all neat and tidy is important.

The same thing actually applies to the directory structure on my hard drives, my Thunderbird inbox and my Firefox bookmarks. Being organized saves time and ultimately increases productivity.

Set Your Deadlines

As Sale pointed out in the discussion in the first part of the article, deadlines can be your friends. Whenever possible, set your own deadline and try to finish in time. Easier sad then done, of course, and an issue I always have problems with, as I like to take plenty of time in my creative process. However, without real deadlines, the project can go on and on and on. Unfortunately, I’ve learnt through the years, they always take more than you want them to.

I tend to do lists of things that need to be done. They consist of tasks of various diffuculty, but every crossed-out item brings you one step closer to your goal. This way, you have a clear picture of the phase your project is currently in.

Do the Difficult Tasks First

Try to get the big, more important issues out of the ways first. By doing this, you’re making the whole working procedure easier. Dealing with the more difficult issues first means you’re starting strong and it seems you’re quickly approaching your goal. If you leave the bigger problems for later, you get the feeling that you have a long way to go, so take the easier route.

Be Adventurous

Uh-oh! I’ve been found guilty of not being adventurous enough, plenty of times. Modern web sites, or rather their designers lack boldness. Click around CSS showcase galleries like CSS Beauty and you’ll find plenty of similar layouts. While I am fan of “CSS Design”, I do feel it’s time to be a little bit more innovative.

Spinning around in circles, in your all too farmiliar two-column layouts leads absolutely nowhere. Apart from being fed up with it all. Try something fresh every now and then. Go fluid instead of fixed-width. Try out different types of headers. Create a smart, original navigation.

Find Your Own Source of Motivation

As a little bonus, I’ve decided to point the obvious fact out that every person has different preferences. For instance, I prefer to listen to music while working. I find it inspirational, expecially when I’m designing a layout. Others may find (any) music disturbing.

These are all tips that I’ve gathered through personal experience, but they don’t necessarily apply to all of you. Therefore, find your own ways to motivate yourself and to be productive.

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