Free iPad Wireframe Set

iPad Wireframe Set

 

Something which I’ve been working on a lot recently is wire-framing and increasingly finding the need for a tidier version than simple sketching. Over time I produced this iPad wireframe set in Illustrator to work from. Every time I start a new project I use this asset file as a starting block.

Note: The wireframe set is now up for sale in my shop.

How to collect design requirements from a client

One of  the things when you’re starting out in a design career is how to collect design requirements from a potential client. Granted it seems easy enough to sit with them and write down everything they say but you’ll get back to your desk and feel yourself staring at your notes without a clue of what the job entailed.

There are a few valid reasons as to why you need to collect designer/job requirements in an effective manner.

THE THEORY

Understanding the Job

A client meeting is the time for you to impress, and one way of impressing a client is to show a complete understanding of what they require. You can do this in various way or simply by listening and asking pertinent questions that you get clear answers back for. If you sound like you know what you’re doing then the trust built in that one meeting, might be enough for you to win the job all together.

Understanding the Client

All of our clients have their own expectations, whether it comes down to design or function. If we can ask all the questions we need, at least then we’ll have the information to work from. It doesn’t matter if we as professionals know better, at least we can discuss their points with them. We can ask for favorite color schemes, we can inquire about ‘look and feel’ aesthetics that they like. All of this information can help in setting up a mood board.

Being able to Quote Correctly

Collecting detailed requirements of a job enable you to quote more effectively as you will have all of the information to plan out time and resources that will be required to complete the project. It is important to quote correctly for both you and your prospective client. Clients certainly don’t want to be surprised by an over compensated quote, after all you’d like to take on the work you’re quoting for and you want to make sure you quote exactly for what is entailed within the job requirements. Not quoting correctly will mean that you’ll be doing a lot of work for little reward.

PRACTICALLY COLLECTING REQUIREMENTS

Various designers use a different means to collect requirements. Below are a few hand-picked designers showing how they collect information.

Sam Brown (Massive Blue)

Sam Brown uses an online form on a contact page for prospective clients to input a minimal amount of information including a potential client budget. This helps to narrow down and possibly ween out any unwanted clientele.

Massive Blue

Sarah Parmenter (YouKnowWho)

Sarah goes in to a lot of detail asking a list of specific questions to potential clients. These are all initial questions as Sarah also provides a website worksheet for you to download, fill in a upload back to Sarah.

Andy Clarke (Stuff and Nonsense)

Andy Clarke goes for a smaller amount of questions with the addition of a ‘Work requisition sheet’ which can be downloaded, filled in and sent back. Andy adds a project budget drop down on to the contact form with general budget guidelines.

David Pache (Helvetic Brands)

David Pache’s primary work is branding, and the rules certainly don’t change for the way requirements are collected. David’s primary way of collecting the design/job requirements are via his website using an online form. The form is quite extensive but asks all of the relevant questions that will aid in writing the correct quote.

HOW DO YOU COLLECT REQUIREMENTS?

If you don’t have an online form on your website you can use services such as Wufoo.com and Icebrrg.com, online form creators where you can build your own form. They have various memberships that allow different various additional perks like being able to upload documents etc.

Of course you can do the same as some of the above by using downloadable word documents, every business will need a different worksheet depending on the work you deliver however I’ve put together a rough outlined document which is free to download and use. All you need to do is add in your own questions, company name and contact details.

Download PDF / Download Word Document.

Is there anything you would add in or change? Let me know in the comments below as I’d like to update this from everyone’s feedback.

Don’t forget to follow me on twitter for more upcoming interesting articles.

Principles of Design Feedback

It is a natural instinct to be wary of getting feedback on your designs. It’s not normal to let someone tear your work apart on purpose, it is something you would associate with a jealous competitor wanting to ridicule you.

It took me a few years before I had the confidence of openly sending designs out for feedback, I took everything personally. If someone picked up the smallest change it was clearly the end of the world for me and I’d argue back accordingly stating they didn’t know enough about me or the design to have an opinion.

Experience and feedback from others in the community helped me understand that feedback was a good thing. The first time that I thought about feedback the right way was when I read ‘Playing with Fire – Gordon Ramsay’, Gordon makes sure that all of his restaurants sit down on a weekly basis to go through letters received in the post, the majority of these letters are feedback, some good and some bad. Gordon explains in the book that the only way a restaurant can get better is to receive feedback, listen to it and learn from it.

As designers we generally think that the client is not always right, I’m certainly not going to get in to that discussion now as client feedback has 90% to do with design being subjective and that all clients are unpredictable. <– That discussion is for another time.

Let’s think about the designer/designer relationship for a moment. There is nothing better than designers talking to each other, well maybe there is but not when it comes to our work. There is so much that can be learned from discussion around design, whether it be about a design process or just general feedback on something you’ve done. It is easier to explain to a designer why you’ve done something in a certain way, and it is much easier for them to provide feedback when they have a background knowledge of design. We do some things for a reason, and this is something that most clients would never understand hence the reason why it is best to get design feedback before a design presentation.

Take Feedback, even when not asked for.

No designer can do their work without feedback. There are hundreds if not thousands of designers who are happy and willing to give you a helping hand towards creating a better design. They do it, not to hurt your feelings but to aid you in becoming better. Sometimes we act without being asked, this isn’t to have the first bite but more because we genuinely want to give a helping hand. There are many places to get feedback on your designs and why wouldn’t you accept it wherever it might come from?

You should always take feedback. There, I’ve said it. Don’t get me wrong, there were times when I was completely different as I hated getting feedback on my designs. Generally you don’t ask for feedback in an open manner as it could compromise your overall design. Sometimes we’re engaged in to a non-disclosure agreement where we cannot publicly show our work. When we do have the chance, we should always take feedback and accept it as the norm. It can only make us better!

Where to get feedback

pleasecritiqueme.com – Please Critique Me is a venture by Tony Chester and the rest of the guys at On Wired. On Wired were receiving a lot of requests via Twitter to critique work, so they set up a website where designers could submit work to be critiqued. Since the time that the website was setup they’ve covered a lot of ground and had some awesome designers critiquing work. Submitting your design to please critique me enables you to get feedback from one of the critics. This is quite a closed feedback session with only one view on your design.

Twitter – Getting feedback in 140 characters or less. If you’re active within the design community on twitter it can be massively beneficial to get feedback from your twitter followers. Whilst you might not get a lot of feedback due to the character restrictions you will get specific feedback from more than one person. Asking for feedback on twitter might grow your relationship with other designers via email or IM where you can ask for feedback more often.

Your Community/Network – Whilst you can send out your potential design to a full twitter network, you could also send a tweet to a good designer friend who can present more detailed feedback. I personally have a small group of people who I can ask and they happily respond with feedback. This ensures that you get more than a 140 character reply but then you can also discuss the theory behind the design you have presented. The more detailed feedback you get the easier you job would be in changing your design if need be. I’d advise anyone to build a good relationship with at least a few people to get more detailed feedback from.

dribbble – I’ve been a dribbble user for a little while now. It’s a fantastic idea by Dan Cederholm and Rich Thornett that allows you to ‘dribbble’ a 400px by 300px screenshot of a design you are working on. dribbble, with an invite only system is closed at various times to new users to prevent a free-f0r-all system. This enables Dan and Rich to keep quality within dribbble as opposed to quantity. Once you’ve ‘dribbbled’ part of your design, other dribbble users can leave comments or feedback regarding the design. It has been argued dribbble shouldn’t be used as a feedback format due to the small area of design that you can show and not knowing the bigger picture. My personal opinion is that you should accept feedback where it is offered, you know yourself whether it is applicable to the rest of your design.

Opinions on Feedback

I asked a couple of designers a few questions on their opinions of feedback. Thanks to Sam, Jon, Grace, David and Chris for getting back to me.

Sam Brown
Sam Brown
http://sam.brown.tc

Occasionally when I am unsure about a concept I am working on I will fire it around a few of my close contacts who are also designers. This kind of feedback is usually of the Yay or Nay variety – we are all busy and I don’t look for specific or detailed feedback just their general impression. The majority of the feedback I get is from my clients directly.

I have found Dribbble to be a fantastic source of good feedback on design work while it is still a work in progress, hopefully they implement some Privacy Settings soon so I can continue to use the limited and high caliber community as a design soundboard.

Unrequested feedback can be both a positive and negative thing, you have to take it with a pinch of salt – design is subjective and what one person likes might not suit someone else. What I will say though is that if you are giving or receiving feedback, make it constructive – “this sucks” or “don’t like it” is useless unless you explain why and how you think it could be improved.

Grace Smithhttp://gracesmith.co.uk

Do you actively look for feedback from other designers before sending your designs to a client?

Usually I don’t ask for feedback, however If I’m struggling or indecisive on a certain aspect of a design or build then I find the feedback and critique of my peers can be invaluable. It’s often useful to have objective, qualified people within the community to give actionable, practical advice.

Do you mind if people give you feedback without being asked?

Not at all, as long as it’s constructive, “that sucks” isn’t exactly going to help me improve or refine the concept. I’ve actually had a few people email me about either my personal sites or clients sites to suggest tweaks and I welcome it, especially if someone has taken the time to review your work with the aim of helping you improve it.

How do you take feedback? Positively or negatively?

I take all feedback on board (positive or negative), sometimes you just have to put your ego aside and really listen to the feedback, because ultimately it’s about creating both you and your client can be proud of.

What tips would you give for looking for feedback?

1. Make it easy for people to give feedback – you’re asking people to give of their time, so make it simple for them to do so!

2. Ask a group of trusted peers for private feedback before opening it up to the public. This means you can get an honest critique from your close circle to put the design through it’s paces.

Chris Spoonerhttp://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk

Do you actively look for feedback from other designers before sending your designs to a client?

While I think designer feedback could be useful in some scenarios, I don’t usually ask for critique for most client projects. The main reason is that I usually have a thorough creative idea in mind that relates specifically to the client through the research and brainstorming process I went through before the project, so unless this whole concept was explained to fellow designers each time, feedback might be on a more subjective level, which could inhibit the progress of the project.

Do you mind if people give you feedback without being asked?

I often showcase my design project processes on my blogs, and write about all the ideas I went through during the job. Having designers share their opinions and even giving additional advice is always helpful. Often this feedback will highlight areas I might not have considered fully, which then motivates me to improve my skills in other areas. All in all this helps me grow and develop as a designer.

How do you take feedback? Positively or negatively?

If the feedback is given appropriately and constructively, then it’s most certainly taken positively. It’s always difficult to keep a cool mind with general comments like, “This sucks!”, although this kind of feedback can be avoided if you ask the right people in the right places!

What tips would you give for looking for feedback?

Develop a core group of designers who you admire and get along with, ideally these would be designers who also look for feedback from others. Being able to bounce ideas back and forth between these people is a great way to receive useful critique on your work. Remember to always give a background on a particular design or project, to avoid the work being critiqued purely on aesthetics.

Jon Phillipsspyrestudios.com

Do you actively look for feedback from other designers before sending your designs to a client?

I can’t say I ‘actively’ look for feedback but there’s 2-3 people in the design community who I always ask for feedback and advice and so far its been working great. I think you don’t need to ask a hundred people for feedback, it’s usually way too much info. Asking 2-3 key people some specific questions seems to work best in my experience.

Do you mind if people give you feedback without being asked?

I don’t mind at all! For example, I love getting emails from readers and users about a site design, they’re the ones that matter since they use the site(s), so their feedback is very important to me. Of course it all depends on the context, presentation and ‘tone of voice’.

How do you take feedback? Positively or negatively?

I usually take feedback positively. In most cases those those bits and pieces of information help me make my site(s) better, so I definitely see it in a positive way.

What tips would you give for looking for feedback?

Use tools like ConceptFeedback and FeedbackArmy, they’re great for getting a lot of data for pretty cheap. But, don’t rely only on those tools, ask 2-3 designers you know and trust, and ask some people who are not-designers and who can help with a fresh set of eyes and a different perspective.

David Perelobox-design.com

Yeah I am always looking for feedback from another pair of eyes. My main goal is to get as much negative feedback as I can find, I then measure that up against my positive thoughts of the design I have created and make changes where I feel necessary.

It is critically important to have a balance between using other’s feedback and trusting your own instincts. You need to be able to accept the good and, most importantly, the bad. The bad feedback is where you learn the most about yourself as a designer.

Free Weather Icons

Free Weather Icons

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve decided to start ticking off my ‘to do in 2010’ list and one of those was create a set of 16px icons. I’ve been working on various forms of these icons and posting them on dribbble to get feedback. It’s the first time I’ve worked on such a small scale so working to get all of the detail has been quite difficult at times. I believe now they are at a stage where they are in a usable condition.

Within the downloaded file there is the full set of icons in .png format as well as a flat JPEG and full .PSD file which is similar to the image above.

The icons are free to download and use wherever you like, a simple comment below showing where you have used them will suffice as a thanks. It would also be great to see how/where you have used them.

Download Free Icons

If you liked this post, you may want to download my 1080px Photoshop grid. It’s all setup and ready to go with 18 columns.

Why I’ll probably never work in an agency again

The word probably

The most used word in this brain dump is going to be ‘probably‘, I can tell you that right now. That’s even before I’ve fully thought how this is going to pan out. It’s something I’ve wanted to talk about for a while and obviously more about the reasons behind it.

I currently work at Codeworks, and don’t get me wrong it is brilliant. Working on such projects as Thinking Digital and the DIBI Web Conference is crazy good. I wake up every morning stoked that I have the opportunity to do it. It is hard work, my weeks feel more like days and there is always a to-do list but it’s exciting. I’m doing everything I want to do and then some. I’ll probably be doing this for some time as I do enjoy it that much.

Natural progression in my head stated that when I was freelance a few years ago I needed agency experience to see ‘the other side’. That agency was small in size and big in ambition and there were some great times but at the end of the day the agency wasn’t mine. My views and my way of doing things would never have been implemented and I would never have seen the outcome of how everything in my head would have worked live within an agency.

The opportunity to work within the agency on various projects was great but I never had the opportunity to run the agency like I would have liked to.

In an agency there are always more people involved in the company than you and certainly more than the thoughts going round inside of your head. When you’re freelance or working for yourself, every decision you make is down to you, you in essence are the control freak running everything. You don’t have to rely on other people, you don’t have to carry people and you don’t have to wait for things to be implemented. Everything happens right there and then as soon as you think of it when working for yourself. If you are working within an agency you probably never have the opportunity to implement things that you’d like, unless you’re the MD/CEO.

I now feel after having the experience of both sides of the coin that I need more control in that scenario. I probably need to relax somewhat but when you’re putting your working reputation on the line you certainly don’t want to have to rely on other people. If I was to work within an agency again, it would be small and it would be my own. I’d keep it very small working with people I’d trust my life with with the same amount of ambition and love for their work as I do, but again this may probably never happen as I’m enjoying myself far too much.

I wonder how many other people who have both been freelancer and agency employee think about this? Your thoughts would be great on the subject. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, 600+ other people do…

Morals in Design

Being a designer isn’t easy. I think any designer would say the same, at times the general day to day running of being a designer can leave you feeling happy, sad or ecstatic. I would say there is usually no happy medium of the good, bad and ugly times. Mood swings, clients and designers block can ruin a day yet sunshine, paid invoices and free flowing creativity can make some of the best working days you can have.

There are somethings that I stand by, in life and in work and these are morals. I would say I am a very moral person, possibly too moral to some people but it’s how I live my life to make sure I’m keeping on the straight and narrow. There are six specific morals or values if you want to call them that I stick to and below I explain why you should use some morals/values in design even if they’re not the same as my own.

Selfless Commitment

The design world is vast! I’d love to know how many people in the world classify themselves as designers whether it be graphic, web or product there are a lot of us. A value that I believe in quite strongly is selfless commitment, to put the industry and other designers before myself. I live for this industry, I love what all designers do and know how hard it is to get anywhere so whenever people ask something of me then I’ll do my best to help other designers out where I can.

Courage

Courage, we designers sure do need a lot of it. At times we need courage to get out of bed and answer emails never mind when it comes to getting feedback and presenting designs to clients. We also need the courage to stand up for what is right in our industry, to stand against spec work and put value back in what we do instead of pushing design auctions where the value of design is so low. We designers need the courage to do the right thing, day in day out.

Discipline

We should stand up and be counted and show that we have the discipline to stay within one of the best industries in the world. Self-discipline is the best form of discipline and if we stick to this and our own personal high standards then we will gain the respect of our clients and peers. Stick to doing things right always and have the discipline to do so.

Integrity

Integrity means being honest. Don’t cheat, lie and steal another designers work. If you’re inspired by it and want to use elements of it, ask the designer as you would probably be surprised about the answer you receive. All it takes is a little bit of respect and a lot of back-bone to stand up and be counted and having some integrity.

Loyalty

What goes around, comes around. You wouldn’t cause trouble on your own doorstep now would you? Help people out, there are A LOT of people in our industry who are just starting out and need that helping hand to get them on their way. Be kind to one another and believe me, in time something will happen where you remember that time you were loyal to your own and gave that aid to someone who needed it.

Respect for Others

We deserve to be treated fairly and it starts within. We should have respect for everyone including our clients. We should not determine that some people should be treated differently because they’re not ‘one of us’, we should treat everyone as we would like to be treat yourself.

What other designers stand by?

Aaron IrizarryAaron Irizarry

What moral’s or values do you stand by in your work?

1) Honesty… always (even when it can mean less for me)

2) Make myself better, by making my teammates better first(when working in a team environment)

3) Family first… no point in making all kinds of money only to end up with no one to spend it with.

4) Give the benefit of the doubt as much as I would want it.( even when it is the last thing I want to do)

5) Don’t suck at Life

Liam McKay

The main morals and values I stand by are those that ensure I’m free to do what what I know works in each project. Ensuring that a client isn’t going to take advantage, or overlook your input. A certain amount of freedom and creativeness is essential for any project I work on. I try, as much as I can, to give myself a new challenge with every new project. I’m always trying things I’ve not tried before, whether they work or not. Working with a client that respects your role and gives you room for experimentation is what we all hope for with each new client, but there are exceptions and varying levels of freedom. I try not to get involved in projects where I feel that I won’t be given the time of day to explain, educate or put my point across. You don’t need to take on every project that get’s put through to you. For me it’s all about ensure that you get the respect you need, and if you’re not feeling that from a client you don’t need to sacrifice your own integrity and personality just to please them.

Elliot Jay Stocks

I have some morals and values I always keep in mind when deciding what work to take on or turn away. I’ve actually turned away a number of high-paying projects because I want to stay true to my own personal beliefs. For instance, I turn away any work for religious organisations. And of course I’m always cautious about projects that may discriminate or harm certain groups of people. I think that goes without saying.

Ryan Downie

The morals and values that I stand by is to be totally transparent with my work and clients. I personally cannot stand people who fabricate the truth, so I am totally honest and upfront with clients straight off the bat.

Your thoughts?

I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the subject! Don’t forget to follow me on twitter.