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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 Sell Your Design Idea

Articles / 13 Apr 2012

How to Sell Your Design Idea

Sometimes getting others to visualize your great idea is not so simple and takes some “selling” on your part. It may even take advance (or free) mock-up work to help some of the non-visual people in the room get on the same page with your idea.

Here are a few things you can do to help you get your idea on the fast-track to approval and how to really sell your design concept.

10 Tips for Writing for Designers

Articles / 6 Apr 2012

10 Tips for Writing for Designers

Ever get that feeling that some members of your creative team just aren’t quite with the program? It is entirely likely. Sending out communications and messages that will reach your whole team can be somewhat tricky because of the differences in how people think.

Creatives sometimes tend to be a little more free-thinking and less-structured than some of their office counterparts. Research has shown that people who use more right brain functions, such as designers and creative thinkers, also respond to and process the same information differently than left-brain thinkers, who tend to be more organized and logic-oriented. (Some studies have even shown that the highest rates of dyslexia, which affects reading and comprehension, have been found in right-brain thinkers.) With just a few tweaks, you can more effectively get your message across to everyone.

Have a More Successful Brainstorming Session

Articles / 30 Mar 2012

Have a More Successful Brainstorming Session

One of the most important aspects of the creative and design process is the sharing and development of ideas. Seldom does a first draft of anything — from an ad concept to a new web layout — see the light of day without planning and revision. Jumpstart the process with more productive and creative brainstorming sessions for your team. The concept sounds simple, right?

The best planned brainstorming sessions take some work. As the leader of the group you must decide how many people to invite and what ground rules will be set. Most of all you want to help bring something positive away from the meeting. Try these tips to spice up your next brainstorming session.

Big Design in Small Spaces

Articles / 23 Mar 2012

Big Design in Small Spaces

It’s easy to get caught up in the big picture sometimes – what your whole site looks like or the message it conveys. Just as important though, are the small spaces. The look of your banner, sidebars and even the dreaded-in-some-circles above the scroll presentation can bring people into or turn people away from your site.

Effective design in restricted, and even constricted spaces can be the key to adding just the right flair to your site. Simple design tools such as cropping, color, text display and contrast can make all the difference when planning the design for the boxed-in spaces of your next project.

Photo Effects and Manipulations: Do These Tricks Work?

Articles / 19 Mar 2012

Photo Effects and Manipulations: Do These Tricks Work?

Are you looking to add a little something extra to a photo on your website? Did you purchase new photo editing software and feel the need to use some of the bells a whistles? Don’t get too pulled in by all the photo manipulation gimmicks out there. Typically the best images are those that are composed and shot well, not a bad image with tricks added to it.

There are, though, some manipulations that can benefit your project when used in moderation. But there are many more so-called photo tricks to avoid if you want to produce professional-looking work.

Mastering Multiple Photo Layouts

Layouts / 2 Mar 2012

Mastering Multiple Photo Layouts

Working with multiple photos and images can be a tricky prospect. Done carefully, the use of multiple images can help create an effective and masterful design for both print and web design projects. Some of the best examples of design using multiple photos can be found in the websites of professional photographers.

Consider dominance, number of photos, color, grouping and image quality when working with a variety of photos. Look at details and consider the feel of a project to get the best results when using many images in your project.

Using Pinterest for Design Inspiration

Articles / 23 Feb 2012

Using Pinterest for Design Inspiration

Although Pinterest launched nearly two years ago, it has really hit the mainstream in the last couple months and is cracking top 10 website lists. The site, which allows users to “pin” or save their favorite images and videos on virtual boards by topic, had 40 times the number of visits in December than it did at mid-year, according to Mashable.

The site though can be a great place for designers to organize their thoughts and cobble together bits of inspiration. But you have to have a method to all the pinning so it does not become a time hog.

Developing a Color Scheme and Color Management Tips

Inspiration / 17 Feb 2012

Developing a Color Scheme and Color Management Tips

Building a website can come with a few unexpected hiccups, one of those being color. Understanding color choices, and how colors may render on different computers is the first step to ensuring that your site has the look you intended.

In addition to finding and selecting colors that work for you, it is wise to develop and manage a color scheme for your project. It is simple to create a set of swatches in common image software such as Adobe’s Photoshop or Illustrator and organize colors in such a way that they are easy to find and use.

Practical Tips for Utilizing Columns of Text in Your Layouts

Layouts / 10 Feb 2012

Practical Tips for Utilizing Columns of Text in Your Layouts

Designing around large blocks of type can be tough and more designers are taking the “fewer-is-better” approach when working with columns and large blocks of text. When using a mass of type, such as in a book, text-laden website or print project, much of the emphasis is more on the readability than the actual look of the type.

Typefaces are important but even more important can be the number of columns used in combination with the words. The number of columns you use in a project can vary depending on a number of factors such as typeface and style used, type of project, font size and gutter width and proportion of other elements.

How to Create a Facebook Timeline Cover Photo: Examples and Best Practices

Layouts / 2 Feb 2012

How to Create a Facebook Timeline Cover Photo: Examples and Best Practices

Facebook announced Jan. 24 that it will be moving all users to the timeline format in the next few weeks. Although the change will be mandatory soon, you can make it early as some users have been doing since it was launched in September. Timeline is the new Facebook “wall” and highlights your personal information based on when it happened.

The biggest visual change included in Facebook timeline is creation of a cover photo. When someone lands on your page they not only see a small square profile image but also a large photo that you have selected for the top of your page. The shape can a little intimidating and includes a hole where the profile image rests. But you can crop or create your own timeline cover photo in just a few minutes. Follow along as we take a look at some great examples and advice for creating the perfect cover photo.

Pick the Right Typefaces for Your Project

Typography / 26 Jan 2012

Pick the Right Typefaces for Your Project

Sometimes the most daunting part of a new project can be the brainstorming phase. Thinking of color schemes and font selections can be inspiring in your head, but really tough when you start mixing and matching elements on paper or for your website.

Understanding some of the history of fonts and typography can help make any project a little easier. Learn how to pair different typefaces to get desired effect every time and learn what things to avoid. Sharp typography and font selections can really make or break just about any project.

Keep That New Year’s Resolution and Make the Leap From Print to Web Design

HTML / 16 Jan 2012

Keep That New Year’s Resolution and Make the Leap From Print to Web Design

You’ve been designing for print since college and have an eye for what makes visuals work. But the landscape has changed (and for some, might even look a little scary). So when the ball dropped at the start of 2012, your resolution was to learn a little more about the digital side of it all and make yourself that much more marketable.

Now is the time to get started. There are tons of resources out there to help print designers get their feet wet in coding, HTML and digital design. Because of the skills you already possess as a print designer, the transition might even be easier than you think. You already know how to use text, color and images, but need the skills to make it happen in the online format. With a little time and dedication, almost anyone can learn the basics with a few great (and free) tutorials right at your computer.