Carrie Cousins

Carrie is the chief writer at Design Shack, with years of experience in web and graphic design. Sports fanatic. Information junkie. Designer. True-believer in karma.





Accessibility / 29 Jun 2017

Neon Colors in Web Design: The Do’s and Don’ts

Neon colors are tough to use without clashing with the rest of your design. They work great for signs and lights in real-world applications, but can present major issues in web design, unless carefully implemented.

Today, we’re going to look at ways to effectively use neon colors in your design work, with a list of do’s and don’ts to help you make the most of bold, bright color choices. You’ll be a neon ninja in no time, weaving it through your design work!

Graphics / 26 Jun 2017

Design Trend: Waves and ‘Soft’ Lines

There’s a softer design trend taking over website projects – waves and soft lines. Where backgrounds have been dominated by single “flat” color, we’re seeing a shift toward curved lines and waves.

The elements are lighter, softer and evoke a different overall feel for the design. What’s especially nice is that waves and softer lines can be used a lot of different ways so that each design feels totally different. (It’s one of those trends that can almost sneak up on you because it appears in so many forms.)

Here’s a look at the waves and “soft” lines trend in website design.

Business / 19 Jun 2017

7 Ways to Save Time as a Designer

“If only I had more time!” Do you hear yourself saying this about projects from time to time? (I know I’m guilty.) Time can be one of the biggest obstacles to getting more done as a freelance designer.

But you can find more time and get more done — and that’s good for your bottom line. We’re not going to bore you with theoretical advice. This is a set of practical tips and suggestions you can start thinking about right now!

Graphics / 14 Jun 2017

Flat Design: An Evolving Trend

Is the flat design trend finished? We don’t think so. It’s not dead yet. But the trend has evolved to be less stark and more engaging for users.

The early days of flat design were marked by a complete lack of design elements such as shadows, gradients, or realistic elements with texture. Many of those design elements are back, but are being paired with the overall idea of flat design to create a website user experience that’s both simple and easy to engage with. Depending on what side you are on, it might be a better version of flat design.

Here’s a look at the flat design trend evolution, and where we are today.

UX Design / 12 Jun 2017

What Is Anticipatory Design, and How Do You Use It?

Do you ever get overwhelmed by the number of choices you have to make in a day? It’s a pretty common phenomenon. The same can happen when a user visits a website. Too many choices can fatigue the user and totally overwhelm the senses.

The solution is up to the designer – to create a design that seems to anticipate user needs and helps move people through the design with ease.

UX Design / 7 Jun 2017

Are You Mentally Overwhelming Users? (And How to Stop Doing It)

The internet is a tangled mess that’s visually overloaded. There’s so much to look at… and read… and comprehend, that it can be difficult to find focus and figure out what is important.

If your design is visually overloaded, chances are that you are overwhelming users and they are leaving your website or app. So how do you know if you are doing it? We’ve got a list of warning signs for you, plus a few ways to strip some of the weight out of the design and make it more manageable for users.

Graphics / 5 Jun 2017

Poly Shapes: A New Design Trend We Love

There’s a new favorite shape in design these days – the polygon. These affectionately called “poly shapes” are popping up on websites, posters and in printed projects. And one of the best parts of this versatile trend is that each of these designs is so different.

Polygons are shapes that are defined in elementary geometry as a “plan figure that is bounded by a finite chain of straight line segments in a loop to form a closed polygonal chain.” The shapes can have any number of sides or orientation, can be filled or hollow and can have paths and strokes that intersect. Polygons are typically flat, two-dimensional shapes, although in website projects some polygons animate move and seem to have more 3-D characteristics.

Polygons are a fun technique for new projects or can bring new life to a design that’s feeling a little stale. Here are a few projects with poly shapes to help jumpstart your next brainstorming session.

Typography / 31 May 2017

Color Fonts: A Beginner’s Guide

So what in the heck is a color font? It’s a term that keeps popping up and is starting to gain traction, although use in large design projects is still in its infancy.

Vendors such as Adobe’s Typekit have started to release some color font options with browser support, so there’s some movement toward wider use. Some have even called color fonts “the next big thing in web design.”

Here, we’ll look at the trend and let you decide how big – or not – this concept will be.

Graphics / 29 May 2017

4 Reasons Why Your Body Text Should Be Bigger

The body text on your website is too small. While desktop monitors and phone screens seem to be increasing in size, body font sizes have seemingly shrunk. While their original size is the same, they feel smaller than ever.

Too often, I find myself squinting at the screen to read content. And it shouldn’t be that way. Today we’re looking at the reasons for this increasing problem, and how you can fix it!

Navigation / 24 May 2017

Design Trend: Side Navigation Is Everywhere, but Does It Work?

There’s a trending topic in website design navigation: sidebar menus. More designers are working with vertical side navigation for projects, with a specific location on the left side for many of these website designs.

And while it looks nice and can help streamline clutter in the overall canvas, does it really work? Will users respond to side navigation? Is it a design trend that you should consider? Today, we’ll try to get to the heart of the questions with some practical and usable answers.

Business / 22 May 2017

15 Skills Every Design Client Expects You to Have

While every design project is a little bit different, almost every client expects you to be a jack of all trades to some degree. Regardless of the project, designers are often expected to provide a complete solution for clients, even though most of us don’t have all the same skills.

In addition to design, clients may ask for expertise in marketing, code, or illustration. It can be a difficult balance at times. But knowing what clients might expect can help you have a plan for how to deal with specific requests, whether it is offering a referral to someone else or adding a new skill to your portfolio.

Most of these examples come from personal experience. And while I didn’t fulfill all the requested needs, seeing what a client expects from their perspective is an interesting exercise!

Business / 17 May 2017

How Many Design Options Should You Show a Client?

You’ve been working on a client project for a little while now. It could be a website design, brochure, or something else altogether — but you’ve spent some time on it. You like the concept. Is that all you need to go back to the client with? Or do you need to create a couple more options for the design review?

There’s a balance of creating enough for a client to choose from, and avoiding work that you know will certainly just get thrown aside. If you know the client well, chances are you can present just one design option. (Seriously!)