Five on Design

Five on Design

fiveon.design
In five minutes, Five on Design covers a broad range of topics for graphic designers, freelancers and other creative or entrepreneurial types.
You need to write case studies
Nov 13 • 5 min
When you’re putting your portfolio together, it’s easy to put all of your images on to one page, title it “Portfolio” and call it done. I’ve been guilty of doing this too. The downside is that this doesn’t include anything like what you did or who you did…
The joy of un-ending design revisions
Nov 9 • 6 min
If you ever read about clients from hell, usually there’s a story that involves someone who couldn’t make up their mind about a design concept. The story typically goes that the designer showed the client, something that they thought was amazing. 50…
Tips for handing design off to another designer
Nov 6 • 6 min
One of the most vulnerable things you can do as a graphic designer is hand your design files off to someone else. It’s the most nerve wracking thing on the face of the planet. It’s one thing if you’re digging around in your Photoshop file and doing some…
What brand of computer should you be using?
Nov 2 • 6 min
A number of years ago, Apple ran their famous Mac versus PC ad. Truth be told, it was one of my favorite ads of all time. It hit home on the competitve nature between Mac and PC users. Fast forward to today, it seems that the differences between running…
What to know about working with subcontractors
Oct 30 • 6 min
As a freelancer, you’re bound to run into a project where you can’t do it all by yourself. At that point, you’ve usually got a couple of options. You can turn around and run or you can find somebody who’s able to help you out. In the business world those…
Reaching out to businesses that you think need help
Oct 26 • 5 min
As a new designer, it seems there is a tempting scenario that goes something like this. They don’t like a local business’s website and decide—with good intentions—that they need to reach out and talk about it. They think they know better. They think it…
Why is it so hard to make something so simple?
Oct 23 • 5 min
One of the first projects I designed on my own at my first agency job was a simple flyer. I remember the client had a lot of information they wanted on there and most of it wasn’t necessary. The poster I ended up sending back was pretty minimal—but it was…
How do you know when you’re good enough?
Oct 19 • 5 min
On a recent episode of the Honest Designers Podcast, they had a wonderful discussion about knowing when you’re good enough. I was intrigued because its so common that people expect they need a certain number of followers, likes or amount of money to be…
Working with vendors: Who pays?
Oct 16 • 5 min
At some point while you work with clients, it become inevitable that you’ll need to bring in a third party product, service, or company to work on the project. Aside from how to hire or find that resource, one of the biggest questions I hear is how to…
What do you put in your portfolio?
Oct 12 • 6 min
Whether you’re starting out or you’re a seasoned graphic designer, one of the biggest headaches you might have is what to put in your portfolio. We get decision paralysis, because in most cases you’re pretty close to your projects. It can be difficult to…
How to choose a printing company
Oct 9 • 6 min
At some point as a graphic designer, you’ll find yourself needing to print stuff. Naturally, there’s a whole lot of choices out there. Some are best suited towards a small run project, like business cards. Others favor fancy projects like a brochure with…
Dealing with clients who are acting unprofessional
Oct 5 • 6 min
For some of us school was a rough time, especially when it came to things like the playground, when we found ourselves on the receiving end of a bully’s wrath. If you were like me, there was always those moments where you wondered to yourself what being…
What do you include in your design deliverables?
Oct 2 • 6 min
Sometimes the most nerve racking thing outside of actually doing the design work for a client is handing the design off to them once it’s finished. One of the most common questions I see asked by new designers, is what do you hand off when you’re finished…
The secret to designing something quickly
Sep 28 • 5 min
If you ever watched a designer or an artist create something super fast and wonder how they did it. If you look up the answer to this question, it usually boils down to experience. And while that’s true, there’s a few other things that kind of mix into…
When is it okay to work for free?
Sep 25 • 6 min
As graphic design software becomes more accessible, it’s more common that clients and potential clients expect designers to work for cheaper or free. Like others, I always say that you should never work for free. It’s called spec work: work defined as…
Using Design to Guide People Through Challenging Tasks
Sep 21 • 5 min
As users demand more out of their smartphones, websites, or computers, it’s becoming even more important for designers to help them get through challenging tasks. It’s important that they can take to the interface in a simple, efficient and easy manner…
Introducing Radical Design Changes Without Getting Destroyed
Sep 18 • 5 min
There’s been a few episodes on this show where I’ve talked about how people respond to design. In a couple of episodes, I even talked about some of the feedback. It’s a tricky thing to get right. It’s even more tricky when people are super-passionate…
How do you give helpful design feedback?
Sep 14 • 5 min
As designers, we tend to get a lot of feedback about our design. How well that feedback is depends on who we’re getting it from. Some people are great at giving feedback, and others are terrible. It’s easy to get angry over bad feedback until the roles…
Dealing with DIY-type Clients
Sep 11 • 5 min
I’ve had my fair share of interesting client stories over the years. There’s one I latched on to that I ended up laughing a bit at. I had a client who got excited about the design process and decided to try their hand at design alongside me. You can…
Should you advertise your pricing and rates?
Sep 7 • 5 min
Whether you design full-time or part time, setting prices for your design services is a nerve-wracking task. You may have a good idea of what your value is and how much our design is valued. It’s a fine line between finding good clients and clients who…
“Just copy our competitors design”
Sep 4 • 5 min
One of the worst experiences I ever had as a graphic designer was when I had someone approached me who wanted a website created for them. They didn’t only have a website they wanted to create, they had a specific website they wanted me to recreate: their…
Challenge Yourself!
Aug 31 • 5 min
At some point or another, you might feel like you hit a rut. It’s not burnout, but you don’t feel like you’re doing as well as you should be as a graphic designer.
What’s in my toolbox of design resources?
Aug 28 • 5 min
As your design career progresses, you’ll find a variety of resources that allow you to do better, quicker, and more efficient work. As this begins to grow, you begin to rely on it more and more. When you’re starting out, it can be difficult figuring out…
What is it like to use a drawing tablet instead of a mouse
Aug 24 • 5 min
This year marks 15 years since I last used a mouse with my computer. When I made the change then, a lot of people thought I was crazy for not wanting to use a mouse.
How do you train your clients?
Aug 21 • 5 min
I still remember working with the first client who didn’t see eye to eye with me on what the final design we were working on would look like. I wasn’t freelancing—it was a studio job, and I didn’t have much choice in working with them. All I could recall…
How Do You Stay Creative?
Aug 17 • 6 min
Staying creative. It’s one of those things as a designer that we’re all tasked with doing. There’s moments in our work day where we feel like there’s nothing we can do wrong. Then there are the moments that drag on forever and feel like we don’t have any…
Being an Introverted Freelancer
Aug 14 • 6 min
My ideal evening involves relaxing by myself or with close friends. I’m not the type who enjoys going out and being around a giant crowd of people all the time. If this sounds like you, and you freelance, you can likely relate to the difficulty this…
Communicating Better With Your Clients
Aug 10 • 6 min
If you’ve been on the internet for some time, you’ve probably read a client from hell story. While some clients are just that impossible to work for, I sometimes look at the stories and wonder how often it was communication that sent things off the rails.
Are Professional Networks Worth It?
Aug 7 • 5 min
For a number of years. I never put much stock into joining professional networking groups. Starting out in my career, I knew just enough people in my hometown to make things work and find a job after I graduated from school. However, as my career…
Should you freelance for your old employer?
Aug 3 • 6 min
Once upon a time, I made the big decision to move away from where I grew up. Leading up to this, I had a decent job at a studio, but I was looking to move to a larger city and bigger opportunities. Naturally, my boss didn’t take it the best when I told…
What to do if your client cancels your project and wants a refund
Jul 31 • 5 min
Anytime you start working with a client, it’s pretty obvious that both parties want the project and the relationship to succeed. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen that way every once in a while. In (hopefully) rare instances, you might be forced to…
I tried going without Adobe products for a week!
Jul 27 • 5 min
Adobe won’t relinquish its grip on our industry anytime soon, but already there’s a few apps out there worth giving a look to. In the past, Inkscape and GIMP have tried, and Pixelmator had a moment of glory a few years ago too. Sketch and Figma are really…
Whats it like at an in-house design job?
Jul 24 • 5 min
Most of the topics on this show revolve around designers who are working in an agency or as a freelancer. This time, I want to flip that around and talk about what it’s like to work in an in house design role.
How do I gain more respect from my clients?
Jul 20 • 5 min
One of the most frustrating things when you’re a young designer starting out or you’re beginning your freelance business, is getting clients to take you seriously. It can be difficult trying to figure out your career and how you want to work with people…
What’s in a name for your freelance business?
Jul 17 • 6 min
One of the most exciting parts of starting a freelance business is naming. Conversely, one of the most nerve wracking parts of starting a small business is naming it.
How do you politely tell a client to pick up the pace?
Jul 13 • 6 min
At some point in your design career or owning a freelance business, you’re going to run into a client that doesn’t want to get back to you right away. They might be lagging on agreeing to a contract or getting assets to you. No matter what the case is,…
What are some good ways to learn how to be a designer?
Jul 10 • 5 min
Whether you’re starting out as a graphic designer, or you’ve been at it for a few years, like me, you’re always looking for ways to improve your craft and improve your design.
How many design concepts do you present to your clients?
Jul 6 • 6 min
I remember the first job at the first agency that I had ever worked for. After I graduated, we were working for a local restaurant. They were going through a branding phase as they were building their business up.
How to find a mentor
Jul 3 • 5 min
One of the benefits of being in school is it’s easy to find a mentor. Often a school has these for you. We just call them teachers. Whether its a teacher, teacher assistant, or a student, there’s always somebody invested in making you a better graphic…
Setting boundaries with your clients
Jun 29 • 5 min
One of the most exciting parts about working with a client is when they trust you to do a lot of things. If this is your business model, it’s great because you might become that one stop shop for them. But in most cases, you don’t want to be that one stop…
What does your onboarding process look like?
Jun 26 • 5 min
When I was starting my freelance business, one of the most exciting things was spelling out my creative process. This mostly included what would happen once a client had signed with me and we got to the “fun part” of my job.
Watch out for these red flags!
Jun 22 • 6 min
In the past, I’ve equated interviewing potential clients like dating. Unfortunately, as graphic designers, we don’t have any Tinder apps for figuring out if we’re going to be a good fit based on a swipe of a screen.
Don’t negotiate your rates
Jun 19 • 5 min
At some point it’s bound to happen. You have a potential client that you’re excited to work with and they love everything about you. Except your pricing.
How to create an elevator statement
Jun 15 • 5 min
Once upon a time, elevators moved slow enough that the people who got on them actually wanted to have a conversation with the others who were sharing the ride. At some point, somebody got crafty and coined the phrase “elevator statement” for the mythical…
What I wish I would have done differently starting my business
Jun 12 • 6 min
Unlike a lot of good stories, I started my freelance business, not because I wanted to move, but because I had to. Looking back, I have a few things that I would have done different. Things that would have made my first few years a little easier and set…
Don’t let a retainer client turn you into an employee
Jun 8 • 5 min
“Just one more thing.” When Steve Jobs mentioned those words, for the first time, we didn’t know how they would change the world. Fast forward a few years, when your clients said it, you had a sense of dread that almost made you go running for the hills.
How to juggle side work while having a day job
Jun 5 • 6 min
For many people, freelancing starts by juggling side work while maintaining a full time job. While it looks super easy, especially for those who share their process on Instagram, or Twitter, or Dribbble, you’ll begin to quickly realize it’s a lot of work…
What makes a good portfolio?
Jun 1 • 5 min
Portfolios: can’t live with them, can’t live without them. We often obsess over all of the details that go into our portfolios, but what really matters? On this episode, I’ll talk about the core things that need to be in a portfolio and why they’re…
How to shift your career focus
May 29 • 5 min
At some point in you career, you may decide that you don’t like the current path your on. When it’s time for a change, it can be a challenge to make the jump when everyone already knows you for what you currently do. So how do you go about shifting your…
How to handle feedback—Good, bad or ugly
May 25 • 5 min
Feedback comes with the territory of being a designer. It’s easy to take the good feedback and apply it (it also feels great to get)! But what do you do when the feedback isn’t so great? Or its just downright awful? Of course some thick skin is required.…
How do you measure the success of design?
May 22 • 5 min
After improving the visual aspect of your craft, how do you go about measuring how successful your design is? Does it resonate with the target audience? Is it converting leads into customers? On the web, there are a lot of tools that get you the data you…
Networking advice for freelancers
May 18 • 5 min
If you’re starting out, networking might be a great option to quickly get in front of prospective clients. However, you might find that networking takes a bit of work before you gain clients from it! In this episode, I’ve got a few tips to help you get…
How to deal with people who are reluctant to change
May 15 • 6 min
You probably know how frustrating it is when you’re super excited about a design concept, but the person your designing it for isn’t. All of a sudden, the cold feet set in and they’ve decided in an instant they want something super safe. How do you handle…
What do designers really need to learn?
May 11 • 6 min
There are so many articles out there that insist designers learn to program (or something similar). While it’s good advice, I don’t necessarily agree. It’s great to learn to program, but I think designers can benefit by looking at other skills that…
How to screen clients and projects
May 8 • 6 min
There comes a time when you can no longer accept every single client as a freelancer. This isn’t a bad thing though—it’s actually good news! But how do you go about deciding who makes the cut and who you have to turn away? Let’s go through why it’s…
How to raise your prices
May 4 • 5 min
As a freelancer, there will come a day when you look at what you charge clients and tell yourself: “I need a raise!” Like everything else, there’s certainly an art form to increasing your rates. Let’s talk about the best way to go get those new rates out…
What to do when you’re in over your head
May 1 • 5 min
You just landed a large, exciting project! But now the dread kicks in as you begin to add up the work that will be going into it. Is this the project where you’re finally exposed for who you really are? Did you really take on more than you can handle this…
Don’t be a Human Photoshop Cursor
Apr 27 • 5 min
It’s tough to work with a client that has to obsess over every last detail and the process that goes into your work. At some point, you probably feel like you’re nothing more than a human Photoshop cursor. That’s not a fun way to work, so on this episode…
How to be a confident graphic designer
Apr 24 • 5 min
It’s easy to feel beat up when you’re in the thick of things with a client or a stubborn project. At some point, everyone has to face building their confidence back up. On this episode, I talk about a few ways that you might find helpful to get back on…
Why you always need to present your work
Apr 20 • 6 min
It’s always tempting to attach a JPG to an email and send it to a client with our fingers crossed that they like it. But there’s more to showing someone your design than that. Presenting your work is the essential next step. In this episode, I talk about…
How to be productive while working from home
Apr 17 • 6 min
Working from home always sounds amazing. You could watch TV, do the laundry or slack off on your couch… right? It’s tempting, but often it can be a recipe for disaster. In this episode, I talk about what helps me stay focused, allows me to get my work…
What can you do after burning out?
Apr 13 • 5 min
Burnout sucks. Once it happens, what do you do? There’s ways to cope and get out of the rut (I promise!) I’ve got a few tips and tricks that have worked for me over the years. As an added bonus, I also talk about ways I prevent burnout from happening—or…
How to deal with terrible leaders
Apr 10 • 5 min
There’s a million stories out there of people who talk about working for somebody who isn’t exactly the greatest person in the world to work for. I’ve made afternoons out of reading horror stories that make me wonder what was the leader or manager even…
You Should be Tracking Your Time
Apr 6 • 5 min
I never enjoyed tracking time. But once I forced myself to commit to it, I began to realize how important it actually is. I started to realize there are some actual benefits that extend beyond the obvious ones. It’s helped me become a better and more…
Building Trust Through Design
Apr 3 • 5 min
In the last few years, we’ve gained more responsibilities as designers. This includes working with people’s privacy and personal information. Unlike designing a poster, we have to really take into account how people interact with the designs that we…
Show up every day
Mar 30 • 4 min
Perhaps the biggest key to success is showing up every day. That’s exciting at the start, but eventually it turns into work. Don’t let that discourage you though. Showing up every day can lead you to new and wonderful places if you stick with it.
Stop Chasing Trends
Mar 27 • 5 min
Trends are fun, but often times it feels like it takes over the design world for a period of time. Then what happens when the trend disappears? You don’t want to be caught on the outside only being known for a particular style. In this episode, I talk…
Why is it so tough to say no?
Mar 23 • 5 min
It’s so easy to say yes. There’s people to impress by your ability to take on whatever it is they’re asking for! But we can only say yes so much. What happens when we need to say no. Especially when someone’s not expecting it? Why does it have to be so…
Dump the Daily Grind Feeling
Mar 20 • 5 min
It’s easy to get into a cycle of feeling boring and that there’s nothing exciting going on. When it happens week after week, it can really get to you. On this episode, I talk about a couple of ways you can break free from the cycle of the daily grind and…
Are you your own worst client?
Mar 16 • 5 min
As designers, we often joke about being “our own worst client.” What happens when that cuts deeper than a joke though? Continuing from an earlier episode about not chasing perfection, I talk about how we need to be a little easier on ourselves. There’s a…
What makes a good font… good?
Mar 13 • 5 min
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new font. Even I’m guilty of the “shiny red ball” syndrome that goes with browsing through them. On this episode, I talk about what I look for to determine how good a font actually is. I’ve got three quick…
Keeping Digitally Organized
Mar 9 • 5 min
Are you guilty of doing the “Final final” dance at the end of your filenames? Most designers—myself included—are. However, I’ve been making a larger point to better organize myself lately. By making a few small adjustments, I’m able to better follow my…
How Writing Makes You a Better Designer
Mar 6 • 4 min
Writing is one of those over-looked ways we can use to become better designers. I’ve been making a larger point to write more this year, and already it’s been paying off. You don’t need to start a blog or start writing 1,000 words right away either. Start…
Done is Better Than Perfect
Mar 2 • 5 min
Obsessing over details can be a good thing—to a point. But at what stage is it actually holding you back from bigger and better things? These days, websites can always be tweaked. Business cards can be printed in low volumes, allowing for tweaking and…
How much should a logo really cost?
Feb 27 • 5 min
How much should a logo really cost? It’s the age-old question that every graphic designer has to answer at some point. So, let’s talk about it! And more importantly, why you shouldn’t *only* quote the cost for a logo.
Snapchat’s botched redesign
Feb 23 • 5 min
Snapchat recently made a radical change to the user interface of their app. Unsurprisingly, the backlash has been swift. While I’m always excited to see a redesign or evolution of something, did they take this one too far?
Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone
Feb 20 • 5 min
I’ve had some pretty long-held beliefs about how I approach design. From the beginning of the year, I’ve decided to start challenging myself to think differently. It’s been an enlightening journey so far and one I’d certainly recommend giving a try!
Five places I find inspiration
Feb 16 • 6 min
There’s a lot of resources out there for designers and I don’t think we always appreciate them. On this episode, I talk about the offline places I like to go when I need to give my creative juices a kick-start.
Simplifying my Side Projects
Feb 13 • 5 min
If you’re like me, it’s easy to create side project after side project. Then you reach the stage where you’re managing 30 different websites. This year, I’ve decided it’s time to take control and simplify my side projects and various brands back into one…
Why do so many people hate on new logos?
Feb 9 • 6 min
The Gap logo fiasco just turned 7 last year and it seems like it was a turning point in how the public responds when a brand is redesigned. What changed? Do we expect more out of logos now? Or are we expecting too much?
What I’ve learned about typography while designing type
Feb 6 • 6 min
When I set out to learn how to design my own typeface, I unexpectedly began learning a lot more about how to use type better in my design work. I also gained some massive appreciation for the masters of the craft—and why its important to pay for a font.
Why I’m not afraid to start over late in a design
Feb 2 • 5 min
Sometimes, after hours of banging your head against a wall, you realize you need to start over. But that can be scary if you have a deadline that’s looming and you need to get things done. In this episode, I want to show you why starting over late isn’t…
How to freelance while working full-time
Jan 30 • 5 min
Continuing to do freelance work while maintaining a full-time job can be a juggle, but it’s not impossible. On this episode, I talk about my tips and tricks for keeping a healthy balance between the two while still having a social life.
How I became a better designer after starting to be more grateful
Jan 26 • 5 min
I started a gratitude journal recently for self-reflection and personal growth. Along the way, I discovered the drastic impact it had on my work as a designer.
Designing for Fictional Clients
Jan 23 • 6 min
After going back to a full-time job, I discovered I had some free time on my hands! So I came up with a fictional client and project to re-evaluate how I approach my work. In this episode, I talk about what I learned and what I gained from this practice.
Five things I’d tell myself five years ago
Jan 19 • 5 min
Periodically, I like to look back on my career to appreciate how far I’ve come. On this episode, I go over five things I’d tell myself if I could go back in time.
What I learned over 12 hours doing design for a non-profit
Jan 16 • 5 min
Last fall, I spent 12 hours doing pro-bono design work for a local non-profit. It was the most enjoyable 12 hours I’ve spent doing design work in a long time! I talk about what I took away from my experience.
The Importance of a Sketchbook
Jan 12 • 4 min
When I started out as a graphic designer in school one of the biggest things that was preached to me was the importance of a sketchbook. And daily, for four years, I would sit and draw on scraps of paper. I would draw during class. I would draw because I…
Five tips for working with non-creative people
Jan 9 • 5 min
It’s tough having to work with people who don’t fully understand the creative process. Here’s five tips I’ve learned over the years that help when you’re working with non-creatives.
Details Matter
Jan 5 • 5 min
How would you react if your mistake was approximately 53 feet in width and about 14 feet tall? And it was so obvious, you could only hope that anyone who wasn’t a designer wouldn’t notice it?