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Scrum Meetings are Stupid and a Complete Waste of Time!

Posted: June 30th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Quick Blurbs | Tags: , | No Comments »
meeting notes scrum
Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels

I’ve never benefited from it, it’s never short and it’s always too long. The information is useless and there’s always someone who says too much or not enough.

Sole proprietors don’t waste time like Corporate America managers. We get to work on what needs done without the corporate bullshit!

5 Books Every Designer Must Read in 2020

Posted: June 16th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Book Reviews, Design | Tags: , , | No Comments »

The graphic design industry is rapidly evolving, with people now using graphic designs for a lot of purposes such as advertising, branding, and art. As a good graphic designer, you should seek to evolve with the current trends in the graphic design industry. To improve your craft, there are certain measures you can take, one of which is to properly study the standard and new graphic design concepts. One way to do this is to read quality books about graphic design.

These books will help you to brush up your old skills and even learn new ones. They could also be the answer to questions and difficulties you have as a graphic designer. Reading these books will go a long way in helping you to maintain brilliant, unmatched standards as a graphic designer. In this guide, you’ll find brief summaries about 5 essential books you must read as a graphic designer in 2020.

1. Branding: In Five and a Half Steps


Common brands and their basic components

Michael Johnson authored Branding: In Five and a Half Steps in 2016, and the book has remained one of the most popular graphic design books ever since then. He is one of the foremost graphic designers and also owns a graphic design studio named Johnson Banks. The studio has worked with clients such as Think London, Virgin Atlantic, and BFI, and has gained lots of awards ever since it was launched.

In this book, Michael Johnson completely uncovers the process of branding in graphic design and divides the process into five important steps. The steps include Investigation, Strategy & Narrative, Design, Implementation, and Engagement. The book is a complete step-by-step guide to branding and rebranding in graphic design. Michael Johnson in this book takes common brands and examines their basic components, explaining the connection between strategy and design. 

In the first half of the book, there is a six-question model which serves as the first part of the book. The first part identifies questions such as ‘what does the brand mean?” and other key questions. The second half examines and explains the process of branding and design. Michael Johnson uses a lot of brand identities from all over the world to explain how to create a successful brand as a graphic designer. This book also shows the importance of research and strategic thinking in creating a successful brand.  It also gives you a better understanding of how branding choices can influence how successful a brand can be with the different kinds of case studies that were discussed.  Johnson further reveals the most important elements involved in creating a successful brand, from the use of language to typography. All these make this book an essential resource for a graphic designer.

2. Signs and Symbols: Their Design and Meaning

Signs and Symbols:

Signs and symbols are an important aspect of graphics design 

Adrian Frutiger examines the relationship between symbols and psychology in this book, while also discussing the sign elements such as alphabets, pictograms, calligraphy, trademarks, and numerical signs. Signs and symbols are an important part of design and as a graphic designer, it is important to understand how to use them the right way. 

The book has chapters explaining basic signs such as the square, triangle, circle, arrow, and the cross sign. The next chapter explains how to join signs together, showing the relations between signs of the same form and signs of different forms.  The second half of the book is based on speech-fixing signs. The first chapter explains how to convert thoughts to pictures while readers also learn about prototypes, speech, and gesture. The subsequent chapters discuss topics such as Speech Fixing, The Graphic Wealth of Pictograms, The World’s Alphabets, The ABC of the Western World, and other relevant topics. This book is a great resource for graphic designers as it makes an in-depth explanation of signs and symbols. 

In the third and final part of the book, Adrian Frutiger explains symbols in detail, with topics such as How Pictures Become Symbol Signs, The Stages of Schematization, and The Different Types of Symbols.  The final part concludes with signal signs, their orientation, and pictograms. The whole book takes the reader through a journey of signs throughout history. For a designer seeking to understand the origins and usage of signs and symbols, then this book is a must-read. 

3.The Non-Designer’s Design book

Non-Designer’s Design book

There are fundamental principles to graphic design every designer must learn

This book about design written by Robin Williams explores the fundamental principles of graphic design. The author has written a lot of books on graphics design such as The Non-Designer’s Presentation Book, The Mac is Not a Typewriter, and The Non-designer’s InDesign Book. Robin Williams identifies four principles of design: Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity. The author explains her principle of contrast as “If two items are not exactly the same, then make them different. Really different.” 

The author further explains the principles of design in simple terms. In subsequent chapters, the author explains the concept of design with step-by-step examples. The book features topics such as Tips for Brand Designing, Underlying Principles of Design, Designing with Type, Designing with Color, and a Professional Approach to Design. Although many other graphic design books explore similar topics, this book is great for beginners and intermediate level designers as it is easy to understand.

She uses relatable and often hilarious examples together with quizzes to explain graphic design. In the second half of the book, the author explains Type. Readers can learn the basics of fonts, the different kinds, how to use and combine them. The book contains practical advice on how to make designs look professional, which is very useful for upcoming designers and non-designers.

There is a chapter that focuses on the fundamentals of typography, with quizzes and examples to help readers develop their design skills. Robin also explains the typeface choices such as thickness, colors, shapes, sizes, and space. This book makes learning graphic design easier as the author explains the concepts in a concise manner while accompanying the material with visuals and examples. 

4. A Smile in The Mind: Witty Thinking in Graphic Design

Graphic Design Books

Witty thinking improves the quality of your design

This design guide is a joint project created by four authors – Beryl McAlhone, David Stuart, Greg Quinton, and Nick Asbury. This book is a great sourcebook for designers. This edition is a revision of the first edition which was written by Beryl McAlhone and David Stuart. The new edition explains wit in graphic design with this new edition showcasing over 1,000 instances of humor and wit in graphic design and branding. It is a compilation of over 1,000 projects by more than 500 graphic designers. 

The authors feature a mixture of vintage and contemporary designs to show how witty thinking can be employed in graphic design. The authors also demonstrate different ways to create humor using means such as double-takes, substitution, and ambiguity. The chapter titled Types of Wit addresses this. In another chapter titled Wit in Practice, and Wit in the World, the authors explain how wit is used in graphics such as logos, memes, and in the media.

In the final chapter, readers can read about interviews with international designers and creative icons such as Saul Bass, Milton Glaser, and Alan Fletcher. These interviews help to get an idea of the thought behind classic designs and popular present-day graphics. Through this book, you can get the different routes you can take to incorporate wit into graphic design. The authors have included photographs, logos, and adverts which use these routes to serve as examples for readers. 

5.Why Fonts Matter

Font Books

Fonts can be useful in mirroring experiences or emotions 

Why Fonts Matter is a book which majors on fonts and how they influence decision making. The author, Sarah Hyndman is a graphic designer and a public speaker known for her works on the psychology of type.  In this book, Sarah Hyndman examines how font design and choice influence different reactions. For a graphic designer seeking to understand how to use type design to achieve their goal, this book serves as the perfect guide. 

According to the author, typeface can be used to mirror experiences or emotions displayed in the real world. The book also shows how fonts are more important than what many people think. Sarah Hyndman details the emotional reaction to fonts through experiments, multi-sensory interpretations, and a collection of reviews from a variety of designers and non-designers. Rather than focus only on how graphic designers interpret and use fonts, the book shows how the public views typefaces. Why Fonts Matter is easy to read and engaging, it will do a lot of good to graphic designers looking to improve their craft.


No matter how much the concepts of graphic design look complicated to you, it is possible to understand and apply these concepts by reading the right design books. There’s a large number of useful resources at your fingertips, part of which are the books we have recommended in this guide. The books above will help you view known and unknown design principles and concepts in a new light. With detailed process, analysis, and illustrations, they will help fine-tune your design skills, whether you’re an established designer or just learning the basics.

Leave a Memorable First Impression: Increase Conversions on Your Website With UX Design

Posted: June 14th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Design | Tags: , | No Comments »
User Experience Design

Do you trust your intuition? In other words – do you rely on your inner feeling when you first meet someone or do you believe that we all really only have those famous “seven seconds to leave a good first impression“?

If the answer to all these questions is – yes, then you should know that the situation is the same with websites! You’ll often have only one chance to impress (and keep) people who visit your website for the first time.

Therefore, in the first few seconds, you should please them with the following features of your online presentation:

  • Charm
  • Innovation
  • Humor
  • Uniqueness
  • The amount of useful information

First “Strike“ Is Over, What’s Next?

If you manage to get through that first “strike“ and keep visitors on your website, you mustn’t stop there. You’ll additionally grow in their eyes if you also have original illustrations/infographics or use interesting special effects in the interaction.

So, from the first contact with your website, you should (metaphorically speaking) take the user by the hand and take him/her on a tour of your website or e-commerce, in order to:

  • Explain what you do and describe who you are
  • Demonstrate your knowledge and skills
  • Prove that you’re an expert in your business
  • Explain to him/her in detail all your products/services
  • Explain how you can solve the problem or provide an answer to a particular question

Yes, you could look at your website as a kind of tunnel through which visitors should go from the landing page to their destination. Therefore, don’t create too complex structures in order not to cause users to leave your website. Instead, strive to create a flawless user experience (UX design) and a functional user interface (UI design) thus, contributing to an increased conversion rate.

UX practitioners or companies can do a lot of things to improve the user-friendliness of their website via hosting. Choosing the right type of hosting is one of them. The type of hosting that has been chosen will affect the user experience pretty much. And just as not all websites are created equal, not all hosting packages are equal, too.

You can start with shared hosting but when a website gets sudden surges of traffic, it will need dedicated or cloud hosting, plus CDN, to scale quickly in order to meet this unpredicted spike. For example – MySQL hosting. Carefully tested options based on these servers can endure a huge amount of traffic and a huge amount of queries. The best of these hosting plans have MySQL databases configured in a way to hit high limits in traffic for their servers.

Now, we come to the essence. How can you use the principles of UX design to positively influence the achievement of set goals and increase conversions on the website?

What’s Conversion on the Website?

If, for example, you sell handmade jewelry through your website, you’ll calculate conversions based on the visitors who made the purchase in relation to the total number of visitors to your website. For example, if you have 10,000 visitors during the month, and 1,000 have made a purchase, that means your conversion rate is 10% per month.

So, when we say conversions on a website, we’re talking about potential customers that you have transformed into those who have completed the desired task. The bonus is, of course, if they keep coming back to your website often (and not to a competitor’s website) and become your loyal customers.

If you try to make your website as high quality as possible, rich in useful information, clear and easy to use, you can easily achieve that. We’re talking here about people who noticed that your product can help them and then, they gained trust in your brand and realized that they can buy from you with confidence over and over again.

We’re also talking about those who may have signed up for your mailing list for no special reason but who were then delighted with the inspiring, original content that you send to their e-mail every day. Thus, they learned that they can use a secret promotional code that will save them a lot of money just because they are your subscribers. It also applies to the percentage of people who click on your ad during a paid campaign on Google (Google Ads).

Each of these and similar situations leads to an increase in the conversion rate.

Who’s Your Target Group?

We come to another important item, and that’s research related to the target group. Do you know the path that your potential customers or clients are going – from the problem you solve with your product to the search for solutions, finding you and your competitors, and the final decision on which product to choose?

Here are some quick guidelines to keep in mind during the UX research phase, which can help users decide for you:

  • Clearly define the target group
  • Create a so-called buyer personas to help you manage your research process
  • Explore their habits and online behavior
  • Find out what problems they encounter most often
  • Make sure you incorporate the solution to these problems into your digital product

We recommend that you rely on the principles of the so-called Design Thinking method during the research process, which includes empathy for users, understanding their problems, finding as many ideas as possible about potential solutions, creating design prototypes, testing prototypes among the target group and, finally, finalizing the digital product layout.

Carefully Create the Structure of the Website

Once you have completed the research phase and clearly identified the target group, learned what the needs of users are and their habits and expectations, you should dedicate yourself to information architecture.

This part of the website development process is intended to lay a quality foundation for later upgrades. Proper setting of the website structure, creating a site map and navigation menu are just some of the steps you need to pay attention to within the information architecture.

In addition, the steps include:

  • Determining the hierarchy of structural data
  • Categorization of content on the website
  • Determining website page types
  • Organization of the structure of individual pages
  • Determining the layout of elements on pages
  • Creating wireframes, sketches, and website models

To create a functional and useful website, you should pay special attention to each of these steps. In doing so, each step expected of a website visitor should be self-explanatory and follow a logical sequence, so that the user knows exactly where he/she is at all times, how to go back, how to correct a potential error, and how to realize his/her original idea.

It’s always recommended that you keep detailed documentation for each project, as this will facilitate the work of the entire team involved in the web design process.

Create Unique Landing Pages

Once you have a firm foundation for your website, it’s time to dedicate yourself to creating individual pages. Landing page design is something you need to pay special attention to, and within that, a few items in particular.

A landing page is any page on your website that users reach by organically searching for terms they are interested in, or by clicking on one of your paid products, or with a desire to learn more about a topic you’re an expert for, even if they want to contact you directly through your website.

The landing page can be, among other things:

  • Home of your website
  • Page with the portfolio of your works (if you are, say, a freelance designer)
  • Each individual page with a description of the product (if you are engaged in e-commerce)
  • Product/service ordering page
  • Contact form page
  • An article page on your blog

Special attention should be paid to each of these pages and, depending on the goal of the website, it should be designed to contribute to better user experience and increase conversions as well.

How to Create Profitable Web Pages

Content design and layout of elements on the page are very important components of UX and UI design. On the sales page, in the part that’s visible before scrolling above the fold, there should be exactly what you need.

If, for example, it’s a page with the product you’re selling (whether it’s a lesser-known brand or a world-famous product), it should contain the following:

  • Striking product photo
  • Short description
  • The price
  • Well-marked purchase button

But that’s not all. Whatever is that you sell online, you should provide users with enough information, in a creative and original way. Everything must be in accordance with your brand, described in detail, with photos from multiple angles, video content, complete technical specifications, and – it’s recommended – with a transparently displayed price. In that way, you instill trust in people and provide enough relevant information on the basis of which they will make a purchase decision.

Respect Your Users

The first and most important guideline that UX design needs is – respect. A very important thing about respecting users is the commitment to the protection of personal data and the proper use of forms on the website, pop-ups, banners, and promotions. It’s always commendable if you’re willing to offer a discount or allow website visitors to download interesting and useful reading for free but try never to abuse it.

1) It’s not recommended that pop-ups, ads, and discount coupons be too intrusively presented on the website. They shouldn’t occupy the entire website, they shouldn’t deconcentrate, or in any way interfere with the use of the website.

2) You shouldn’t use unrecommended actions that will fraudulently entice someone to leave their email address, which you’ll later abuse for aggressive advertising and sharing with third parties.

It’s recommended that you:

  • Always collect only as much data as you really need in the forms
  • Be transparent and don’t abuse the trust of your users
  • Explain exactly what data you’re collecting and why
  • Don’t rely on default consent but give users the opportunity to decide whether to agree to something or not (this is, after all, prescribed as an obligation by the Law on Personal Data Protection, as well as the European regulation GDPR)


When it comes to users who come to your website for the first time, you’ll often have much less than seven seconds to leave a good first impression. Even when “acquainting“ goes well, no one can guarantee that users will want to stay. You have to do your best to impress and keep every visitor on your website and thus, increase the possibility that soon they may become your loyal customers or clients.

When using the pricing guides, do the prices reflect meetings and consultations with clients?

Posted: June 1st, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Business, Design | Tags: , , | No Comments »
graphic design

The design prices are for design only. For the most part, it is industry standard to have one free consultation with the client and time to go over the initial design after completion. If you have changes or more meetings, then you need to extend the hours per job (charge per 1/4 hour). Basically, the 3 hours it takes to design a letterhead is just for design. Additional charges will need to be applied if the client request changes. My suggestion, is if they have minor changes, then do it for free, but don’t let it get out of hand. The reason the extra charges are not in place on these pricing guides, is that every client is different and that it is virtually impossible to judge what will be changed. Some may need more while others less. Since most design work is custom, this will always be an issue for designers.

Download Pricing Guides

Pricing Guide for Pain in the Ass Clients…

Posted: June 1st, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Funny Stuff | Tags: , | No Comments »

I love this pricing guide. Great for pain in the ass clients.

pricing guide for pain in the ass clients

What is UI vs. UX Design? A Practical Example in Under 6 Minutes

Posted: June 1st, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Design | Tags: , | No Comments »

Are there any valid points to discourage a potential client from wanting to use Web site templates?

Posted: May 24th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Design | Tags: , , | No Comments »
graphic design, website design
Photo by Designecologist from Pexels

Templates are a quick fix for a cheap client. However, in most cases, cheap clients are the most trouble and will cost you more time and money than you care to deal with. Many times the client will want you to customize the template more to fit their needs. I tell them that if they go the template route, that there might be additional design fees. I also explain that there is still HTML and back-end production and programming work that must take place, and depending on the template design, this could cause problems if the template was not designed properly to fit into HTML, thus costing them more money. Most important, I explain to the client that someone else, more than likely, has this same design for their site and that it would, in the long run, be better to make a custom designed site. I do think templates have their place in the design world, but I am a custom designer and my clients want custom art. Every client is different, but it all depends on money and ultimately what the client is wanting to achieve with their Web site.

Do you recommend breaking down your estimate to include the number of hours spent on certain tasks as well as breaking down each item?

Posted: May 24th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Business | Tags: , | No Comments »
estimate design work
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

It’s fine to breakdown your estimates, but to much breakdown will cause the client to pick apart the estimate and try to cut time and pricing. However, it is a good idea to place the amount of time and then state if the client goes over a certain amount of time that they will be billed for additional hours at your rate. My suggestion is to give the client a base price and then list the total time for the project. Then state the time overage costs to the client. Clients can be overwhelmed and not understand what you are breaking down in your estimate, they just want you to get the project done for a good price. Remember, the more simple the better.

Typography Tutorial – 10 rules to help you rule type

Posted: May 24th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Design | Tags: | No Comments »

Do you recommend getting a lot of self-promotion items printed up for marketing our company?

Posted: May 19th, 2020 | Author: | Filed under: Business, Design | No Comments »

Be very careful on what you have printed, you can spend too much of your hard earned cash on stuff that just looks cool and is not effective in bringing in money. My suggestion is start of with a really sharp looking business card and get your Web site online. These two items will be your number one shot for bringing in business. The next thing would be to work on low cost letterhead and envelopes so you can send out for proposals and sales information. Once your company starts to bring in money, then look at cooler ways to do your self-promotion and attract the bigger fish. Spend more money on mass mailing and cover more area with your dollar.