And spending too little time on sloppiness.

Stop me if this sounds familiar.

You had what you thought was an excellent idea for your brand. You spend weeks or even months polishing the designs. Finding the perfect font combinations. Rounded every corner to a 6px radius. Adjusting the drop shadows until everything popped off the screen just right. Spent another few weeks waiting for it to the developers to build it. Finally, you launched the idea into the world.

Hooray!

…Except…

It didn’t have quite the impact you expected.

It turns out that idea didn’t actually give the people the thing they needed most. …


The mindsets that made “The Best Ice-cream in America”

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Ben and Jerry’s Icecream is a beloved household name. But like all big brands, they didn’t start that way. In the mid-1970s, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield opened a small ice-cream shop in Burlington, Vermont. By the 80’s, their small business had spread across the country. Time magazine called it the “best ice cream in America.” Today they still remain one of the top-selling ice cream brands in the world.

So what were the beliefs behind their success?

1. Don’t be afraid to Steal Ideas

The idea of profiting off ice-cream wasn’t new. Ice-cream parlours were becoming trendy in major cities in American. …


Work faster, better, and smarter, today.

An important part of the job for any designer is knowing how to work effectively with their tools.

The Sketch community has created countless plugins for you. Sadly, not all plugins are created equal. Having worked with Sketch for the last five years, here are the ones that have most dramatically improved my process.

Sketch Runner Pro

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Sketch Runner Shortcuts

I’m going to start with the best. And, unfortunately, one of the most expensive. At $45 CAD this one isn’t cheap. But Oh Boy is it powerful. If you’re a fan of keyboard shortcuts, it can radically speed up the way you perform actions in Sketch.


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Forget natural talent. Focus on the process.

My mentor once told me I shouldn’t be a designer.

Told that designers “see the world in a different way”. Implied I didn’t see the world that way. Told me I didn’t have the talent.

I’m here to tell you…Forget talent.

As humans, we tend to attribute other people’s skills to natural ability, and our own lack of skills to a lack of it. Here are a few examples of things people have assumed I had a natural ability for.

Photography.

Some of my earliest memories are playing with my mum’s camera on holiday. Shooting awful blurry close-ups of ants on…


Tips for online accessibility

Designers love tiny typography. Thin weights, on gorgeous photography. It’s trendy. Trendy, but not cool. Do you know what’s cool? Accessibility is cool. Making your designs clear to all users, regardless of any visual (or other) impairments.

It’s time to stop following trends and start acting cool. 😎

Now, I know accessibility is a much broader topic than typography. A lot of accessibility work is done behind the scenes, tagging images properly, and creating easy access for screen readers, etc, etc. But I’m going to start with the basics. Because I know, as a designer, you care about aesthetics.

How…


3 ways to improve conversion through better product photography

When it comes to e-commerce, an image isn’t worth 1000 words. The right image is worth 1000 words. Here are 3 ideas to ensure you’re delivering images that show your customers your product is the right choice for them.

1 — Show off the Scale

Have you noticed the increasing dominance of human body parts on retail sites? (hands, legs, lips, etc) As well as being a popular trend, there’s a functional reason for that. Size matters. Especially when you don’t know what size something is. Nothing is as disappointing as receiving a product, only to find it was much smaller than you’d imagined. In-scale images…


Improving Design Team Collaboration

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FYI — Miro is a great tool for collaboration. Sadly they didn’t pay me to tell you that.

You need feedback to improve. Yet many of us are afraid of giving or receiving it. We don’t want to offend people. Or feel the pain of criticism from others. Yet it is invaluable for personal growth as a designer, and a team player.

1. Ask for advice, not feedback.

The very first step is to start asking. But asking for feedback often comes with negative connotations. It comes across as criticism — a judgement. People often don’t feel they can speak honestly without repercussion.

Advice, on the other hand, is positive. When you ask for advice, you show vulnerability, allowing others to guide you to…


Hint: it’s totally worth it

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Computers. Just one of many research tools.

For those who don’t know — which may well be you, as you’re reading this article — Design Research is a field of research focussed on learning about the people we’re designing for. It aims to expose patterns of behaviour, through iterative hypothesis and experimentation. If you’re a product designer, UX designer, Unicorn, Screen Jedi, or really any type of designer, here’s why it should be part of your process.

You are not your guest.

If you’re a designer, you probably want to solve problems. Sometimes for yourself. But mostly for the users of some other businesses. Whoever happens to be paying you this month…


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Answering your questions on how modern product teams can benefit from a Design System

Are you looking to understand what a design system is, how it works, and whether it can help your team? Then you’ve come to the right place. Read on for information on how Design Systems can reduce chaos, improve accessibility, and speed up your design team workflow.

What is a Design System?

A Design System is a collection of reusable components. These components form the key elements of your digital product or service. It acts as a single source of truth for the building blocks of your design, including (but not limited to):

  • Foundations: brands colours; typefaces; icons; grids etc.
  • Components: buttons; form fields; menus…


Plus a bonus tool to speed up your workflow in Sketch

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Design is about more than just making pretty pictures. It’s about collaboration.

If you love Sketch, then you probably love Sketch symbols 😍. They’re a powerful tool in building scalable, reusable designs.

However, if you’ve ever tried to use InVision Inspect to hand over your designs to the development team, you may have come across this frustrating issue.

You’ve uploaded all your screens, and when you run your final checks in the Inspect tab of InVision and find all the symbols seem locked down. Like this button right here. All you can see is the overall size. Not the colour of the background. Not the text content. Not the font size. Nothing.

I.Black & Co.

Improving interactions between people and software. www.iblack.design

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