Overcoming Web Designer Block

Jan
15
2008

Design Block

We have all had it. You know the scenario, the base concept design is due today, you have just started. Nothing is inspiring you, it’s all the old same old thing. The blank page looks back at you mockingly, laughing.

You sit there trying to visual something, anything new, all you get is nothing, an emptiness that is as vast as the canvas you are working on. The clock numbers slip by endlessly, click click. it too is laughing at you, it knows about the deadline.

There is a feeling of dread that is knotting up deep within the pit of your stomach. A spike of panic and urgency, your heart is racing, you are sweating, you must get the design done today!

The waking nightmare begins. A fifty foot wall is enclosing around you, blocking out the creativity, sapping your light, your muse. The world has become just a mundane darkening grey uncreative void. Panic!

So what do I do when the web designers block comes down:

  • Stop.

    First off stop. put the blank paper, Photoshop canvas, or page aside, close it even. Review what you have in terms of input (logos, colours etc). Rotate them, invert them, flip them, color inverse them, zoom in. Look for themes, patterns or make up a colour pallet if one is not supplied.

  • Getup, walk away.

    This is a simple solution. Calm down, to do this get up walk away from your desk, go outside, get a drink. go for walk down the street. Take in the sights, smells, the sounds away from your work environment. Try to mentally reset yourself, clear your head. Some of my best ideas come in checkout queues or just driving around. However, not a good solution if time is extremely short.

  • Visit other web sites.

    Go have a look at some inspirational designs, maybe go look at the work of you favourite designer. Or visit some CSS galleries. Good ideas sure, but remember take only inspiration, no one likes a thief.

  • Start. Just do it.

    If you have the wireframe, fine you have a starting point. Even if you don’t, start with a rough sketch. Doodle, throw a series of thumbnails together. Just get in there and put pencil to paper, draw, play. You may see something in the mess on your page that will leap frog you into the design process. It maybe a curve, a colour, an outline, a font, I don’t have a magic bullet on this one, but you will often see a way forward if you have something to look at and mentally churn over.

  • Set a deadline.

    Sometimes it’s not “designer block, it’s just procrastination. So putting a deadline in place, this does help you kick start yourself. Not much good if you are already on a deadline, eh.

  • Change media

    Go watch a movie, music video or play some console games. Often you will get inspiration from a different media. But my personal mega block breaker is music. Turn on any music. I find it best to try and find some music for the theme you are looking for, let the music entrance you and feel the vibe, let your imagination be inspired by the music. Different people design various themes to certain music types. This is such a detailed topic that I’m not going to cover it all here. Mind you some people tell me music only helps them work and does not inspire them.

  • Mood Boards

    You are using mood boards? Well maybe not on the small jobs. But they do help on the larger ones to set the tone of the design. To set the theme, the colours, fonts and style of the visualisation. They are quick, they are dirty and they are great starting leverage point in the design process.

  • Word play

    Take random words and content themes from the site, mix these up, select a few randomly, look at the emotion and design these words reflect and start from there.

  • Take it to the extreme

    Okay you have a design, but it’s just lame, and boring, it just says that you have no creativity at all. Well why don’t you try and go for the extreme opposite of what you want. Make it even more boring and dull. Break the rules on the colour pallet. Make some of the elements way too big, break out of the design mold, go crazy. It may just lead you to a new concept away from the every day mundane design you already have.

  • Build a Reference library

    I know these are out of favour, and so old school. But a physical collection of design inspirational books, magazines, photos can be a really godsend when you have a creative block. It gets you away from the computer, and you start to look a things on different level. Allowing your subconscious to take hold and wander aimlessly. I’ll often find just one picture or drawing that will inspire a complete web site design.

Besides the resulting burnout aspect what do you do to overcome designer block.

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1 comment

  1. […] written a post with some good advice on what to do when you’ve run out of inspiration and creativity. Well … you don’t “run out” of creativity, it’s all […]

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