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Carrie Cousins

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.

How to Design a Killer Annual Report

Business / 19 Mar 2015

How to Design a Killer Annual Report

Regardless of when your company’s fiscal year ends, you probably want to start thinking about the dreaded annual report today. Yes, “dreaded.” But it does not have to be. While annual reports are often seen as a design drag, there are plenty of ways to turn this report into a fun and memorable design project. And with better design comes more reading and retention, two positives for your brand.

You need to start thinking about it now. Don’t wait until the report hits your desk to determine a design strategy. Start talking to your team about your story for the year and how to create an annual report that will get people talking.

The Complete Guide to an Effective Card-Style Interface Design

Layouts / 18 Mar 2015

The Complete Guide to an Effective Card-Style Interface Design

Card-style architecture is one of the biggest things in web design, and mobile design in particular. From apps to responsive websites, the card-style format is popping up everywhere.

And for good reason. Mobile card design looks nice, works well on a variety of devices and creates distinct organization and a method for content delivery. That’s why many large, well-known brands are using the card format and many smaller design and development groups are following suit.

Designing Without Images: Making Typography Work for You

Inspiration / 16 Mar 2015

Designing Without Images: Making Typography Work for You

You don’t need a great image for every design project. In fact, you can create a great design with no images at all. It’s a trend that is gaining a lot of momentum as typography-focused projects can be used to stand out against a crowded sea of hero images, video and animations.

All you have to do is think like a typographer. Designing without images takes focus, vision and a clear understanding of design and typography principles to create a piece of art that is totally comprised of text.

10 Tips for Designing Icons That Don’t Suck

Graphics / 12 Mar 2015

10 Tips for Designing Icons That Don’t Suck

Almost every designer is thinking about app design these days. One of the smallest features of every app is the icon used to represent it on the screen of every mobile device and in the app stores. Designing a great icon is more than just putting a logo in a box. You need something that stands out among all the other app icons out there.

A good icon can be used in a variety of ways – for apps, social media and even on smaller printed projects or business cards. And all it takes is a little design and planning.

Freelancing 101: How to Help People Understand Your Job

Freelancing / 3 Mar 2015

Freelancing 101: How to Help People Understand Your Job

Just because you have a “home office”, it doesn’t mean you’re really working. How often have you gotten this response from friends or family? They just don’t always seem to get the life of a freelancer…

The hours are different for freelancers. The workplace may not look like an office at all, and can sometimes be the kitchen table. But that doesn’t mean you are not working. Chances are you are working exceptionally hard. Sometimes it just takes a little explaining to help everyone else better understand your job.

How to Design an Email People Will Actually Read on Their Phones

Layouts / 2 Mar 2015

How to Design an Email People Will Actually Read on Their Phones

Email marketing is one of the most popular ways to reach an audience. Wait, that’s probably not new information. But did you know what a majority of those views will be on a mobile device? So if you are not designing your emails for phones, this is the day to start.

Designing a mobile email takes planning and thought. Many third-party email software clients include responsive templates in their packages, but not every tool will automatically convert your message to the idea design. You need to think out how your email will look and make sure the message is focused. It might even be the perfect place to start with a mobile-first design strategy.

Google Material Design: Everything You Need to Know

Mobile / 24 Feb 2015

Google Material Design: Everything You Need to Know

You probably keep hearing the phrase “material design” popping up in conversations. The concept is pretty new; it was introduced in the summer and references a new design language from the folks at Google.

But material design is more than just an idea; it is likely to cause designers to completely rethink web and app design processes. Sites are already beginning to role out design schemes using Google’s material design documentation. So now is the time to learn what it’s all about and if a material design framework is in your future.

Minimal Design: How to Design More With Less

Minimalist Graphic Design / 23 Feb 2015

Minimal Design: How to Design More With Less

Minimalism and the use of whitespace are big design trends right now. Mastery of these techniques might look easy at first glance, but it is actually quite difficult to design with so much open space and so few objects. It can be hard for clients to come to terms with because they often want as much information as possible on a canvas.

But many designers like the look of minimal styles and maximizing whitespace can be a fun challenge. It’s a technique that translates well across mediums and can be used in print, web design and on packaging. Here, we’ll look at the trend and how to design more with less.

Understanding and Working With Aspect Ratio

Layouts / 17 Feb 2015

Understanding and Working With Aspect Ratio

Every image, every canvas, every frame has a shape. And often that shape is a rectangle. Even more common is a rectangle of a particular proportion based on medium.

From cameras to television to movies to computer screens, every medium has an almost distinct shape on to itself. That can be a challenge for designers, especially when you have to crop and convert content and information to fit a variety of mediums. Because of all these different shapes, understanding aspect ratios can help you easily move images and designs from one medium to another.

6 Tips for Designing Signs and Billboards

Graphics / 16 Feb 2015

6 Tips for Designing Signs and Billboards

Your next project assignment: designing a sign for an upcoming event. It will be displayed on billboards around town and printed on smaller yard signs as well. If you are already panicking at the idea, don’t worry — designing a sign is not much different than any other project.

The big difference is scale. It’s going to be a lot larger in size than what you might be used to. Other things to think about when designing signage are location, color, typography, contrast and material the sign will be printed on. Thinking about each of these factors in advance can make for a better sign design experience.

How Color, Type and Space Can Impact Mood

Graphics / 12 Feb 2015

How Color, Type and Space Can Impact Mood

Do you ever think about mood when you are designing? Mood has impact in two ways – the mood of the project itself and the mood of users. Together they create an experience that connects each user to the project.

While you can’t always account for the mood of users, or their good and bad days, you can create an aesthetic that emphasizes the right mood for your project. Three basic design techniques – color, typography and space – are key components for establishing the mood of a project.

Looking at Images: Phi Grid vs. Rule of Thirds

Layouts / 9 Feb 2015

Looking at Images: Phi Grid vs. Rule of Thirds

When you are thinking about images, do you consider framing and the shape of the crop? The answer does not lie in the shape of the box you just created on a design canvas. It has a lot to do with the content of the image itself.

How you frame and crop images can impact engagement and even how a person looking at the image feels about it (whether they know it or not). Here, we’re going to look at two different ways of thinking about images – using the phi grid and rule of thirds — and how you can apply them to your work.