Illustration by Katie Kassel
I wrote another blog post for B2 Interactive concerning web typography and embracing the nature of the web versus forcing your content to look like your print pieces.
You fiddle. You fudge. You make soft breaks in text to avoid orphans. You justify large blocks for better reading. And then you look at your post on your phone. It looks horrible. How? Why?! It looks great on your laptop!
You start wrapping text in header tags to draw emphasis. Then you start trying to use inline CSS to fix it. It’s like putting out the fire with gasoline. Your SEO starts taking a dip. Your entire site layout is now breaking on mobile and desktop. What are you going to do?
Embrace the Zen of the Web.
Click here to read the whole post.
Last month I wrote on the B² Interactive blog about using SVG filters to help enhance all the photos on a large website I was working on. Using SVG, I was able to brighten all the photos without having to download them all and batch process them through Adobe Photoshop again. Huge time saver.
Near the end of a recent website project, I ran into an interesting problem. The client wanted to switch the main color of the site to black. And while the magic of CSS makes that request straightforward, there was a rub. I had used color overlays on top of all of the pages’ image headers. Now that the overlay was black, the photos used in those headers lost a lot of their brightness and contrast.
Give it a read. It may help you out on your next project. I barely scratched the surface with how powerful SVG filters are and I’m excited to use them more.
Designers use a lot of different tools in their day-to-day life. But the one that I don’t see many using is the simple and unassuming highlighter. Yes, you read that right. Not the latest prototyping software du jour, or the Macbook Pro. The highlighter. It’s the tool I miss the most when I don’t have one on me.
Get a highlighter.
When I was first starting out in my career, I remember getting one of my layouts returned to me for revisions. It was covered in proofreader’s marks. I hadn’t learned how to read proofreader’s marks in school. I was embarrassed. But I still went to the creative director to help me decipher what I needed to do. And he showed me the best trick ever:
“Every time you make an edit on the screen, mark the proofreader’s mark off with a highlighter on the hard copy. That way you know you did the edit and you won’t miss one.”
And that’s what I did. I highlighted all the corrections on the hard copy so that I knew that I had done them all. When I was done, I printed off a new hard copy. I placed the new version and the one with the proofreader’s marks in the job jacket. When I turned it back into proofing, I added my initials. If there were any problems, they could find me.
I didn’t even have a highlighter, because I never thought I would need one. The creative director gave me his to use that day. It was a bit fancier than a standard office one. Refillable. And for years, I just used whatever highlighter was in the supply closet at my various jobs.
Every designer who has ever worked for me has heard this story in some variation or another. Inevitably, I have one repeat the same actions I took all those years ago. Now and again, one of them comes into my office with a perplexed look at how to read proofreader’s marks. And I always end with the same thing. Get. A. Good. Highlighter.
This week, after being annoyed at not having a highlighter on hand and finding none in the office supply closet, I purchased a Platinum Preppy Flourescent Highligher Pen. I love Platinum’s Preppy line of products. Cheap, but well made. Durable. It cost me $2.50 for the highlighter and $2.50 for a pack of three refills on JetPens.com. That ought to last me for a year or so.
If you’re a designer, do yourself a favor and get some highlighters. It saves you time with revisions, which in turn saves the company money. More importantly, it saves your clients’ money. And steal my story. Share it with your own team. Or with a client. Using a highlighter for revisions just shows you are paying attention to details. That you take your job seriously. You can’t lose.
Illustration by Ryan Kholousi
I’m not just writing here. I’m also contributing to the B² Interactive blog on a regular basis. I’m passionate about design. In the future, I’d like to write more about why graphic design as a “day job” (I hate that term) is an excellent choice for an aspiring cartoonist. You learn deadlines, production, and conceptualization. You learn how to clearly and visually communicate.
Here is an excerpt from one my latest post, Design Is A Service, Unless It Isn’t:
Design is a service. It isn’t art.
I’ve seen plenty of reactions to this realization over the years. You can spot the designer going through this easily enough. They’re the ones fighting with the client’s business core. They throw budgets right out of the window. They make eyerolling into an event so aggressive that you can almost hear it.
I describe this period as “second adolescence, but this time with a credit card.” If they survive this period, they seem defeated. Going through the motions. Completely lost. Sometimes, though, they get excellent at their craft. And it’s these folks I want to write about. They have rediscovered art.
I look for designers who are into some artistic pursuit outside of graphic design. Something that they can have just for themselves. It can be painting, music, writing, or, in my case, cartooning. Whatever. It will inform their work. Encourage it. Ask them about it. Having an outside passion helps that transition in innumerable ways.
Read through the end. Especially if this is something you are grappling with in your design career. If you want some extra reading, check out The Gift (Amazon Affiliate Link) by Lewis Hyde. It helped redefine my self-worth as an artist and a designer. Or if you don’t have the time for that, check out Design is a Job by Mike Monteiro. It’s a quick and inspirational read. I very much enjoy his work.