Ecommerce merchants wear many hats. One of them is designing graphics for their websites. In my experience as a freelance graphic artist, I've adopted steps to help me become efficient and productive for each graphic project. I've listed those steps, below, hoping they can help non-professional graphic artists with their design tasks.
1. Understand Your Project
The first step in any design project is to understand your end goal. Before doing any serious design work, determine the scope of your project. This step will vary depending on what type of project you are working on. If you are doing some simple photo editing, this step will be less important than if you are designing a set of web graphics or a banner advertisement.
Depending on the project, you might want to do a few quick sketches on paper before moving into your image editor. Rough, hand-drawn sketches will help you quickly visualize your end goal. Sketches are also a great way to get a feel for balance and white space in your design without investing too much time in a design that will need serious revision later.
2. Customize Your Design Workspace
Many design applications allow you to customize your workspace, and even save workspace layouts depending on your project. Having your design workspace customized to the type of project you are working on can greatly decrease the amount of time you spend digging through sub-menus for commands and functions. Spending the time to set up your digital workspace before starting your project can save you lots of time in the long run.
Physical workspaces can also be customized to optimize productivity. For some, this might mean clearing your desk of unnecessary clutter. For others, this could mean putting on music and having extra scrap paper nearby. One of the most helpful things I’ve done to improve design productivity is set up a secondary monitor with my computer. Whatever it means for you, take the time to set up your physical workspace as well your digital workspace when working on a project.
3. Save Multiple Revisions
Many designers fail to save multiple revisions of their design while they work. Saving your work under different file names as you progress is a great way to improve productivity. First and foremost, saving multiple revisions of your project helps protect against system failures that could cause you to lose your work. Few things are more frustrating than losing several hours worth of productivity due to a power outage or computer crash.
Furthermore, because design is often an evolutionary process, having multiple revisions of your design allows you to compare your work at different stages of the design process. This can also be useful if you decide to experiment with a design and end up disliking the direction you went. Being able to load an earlier version of the design can save you from cycling through multiple undo states, or worse, from running out of undo states to revert to.
4. Tips for Saving Multiple Revisions
When saving multiple revisions, try to save after significant changes have been made to your design. Don’t save every time you make a small, insignificant change, as you will soon be bogged down in an unnecessary amount of revision files.
Use a consistent, incremental naming convention with all of your design project revisions. For example, the project name followed by “v1,” v2,” and “v3” would be an acceptable naming convention.
You may also want to consider adding a short description of the changes particular to each revision file. For example, “project name v1 – blue color scheme” would be a good way to indicate that a particular revision file used blue color scheme. Note that adding the description after the version number will still allow you to sort your file revisions alpha-numerically.