Portfolio mistakes that new freelance designers make

The difference between seasoned designers and new designers is rarely their skillsets. Generally, new designers know how to use the tools the same way as someone who has been designing for twenty years.

However, new designers tend to make certain mistakes that an experienced designer wouldn’t make. Today I am going to talk to you about 4 common areas new designers can often fall short in, and how you can avoid making the same mistakes!

Not Presenting Your Ideas Properly

Often times clients come to designers with an idea in their head of what they’d like their designs to look like. As a designer, it can be frustrating to have a nitpicky client who is trying to dictate your designs, but as a designer it is also your job to manage the client as well as their expectations. Presenting your ideas to your client can truly make or break a project.

If done correctly, your client will understand why you made certain design decisions and won’t try to take control over the project. However, if done incorrectly, your client won’t understand the process or reasoning behind your design decisions and you could end up needing to head back to the drawing board. When presenting your ideas to your client, it’s always best to provide them with some sort of mock-up for their designs so they are able to see how their designs will look in a real life situation. If possible, sit down with your client 1-on-1 to explain your design process (over Skype, Zoom, or even in person) or provide them with a PDF that explains how your ideas fit with their goals.

You will want to explain why you chose certain fonts, colors and design elements to bring their ideas to life. For example, below is a sample of what I sent a client to explain my thought-process behind the tri-color color palette I had chosen for them. You can see how I have briefly explained why I chose the colors and how it relates back to their vision.

Not Having A Client Process In Place

Your client process should start as soon as a prospect reaches out to you and inquires about your work. It’s a good idea to have a detailed PDF of some sort that you can send any prospective clients who would like some more information about your services.

Having a meeting (or a virtual meeting) with a client before formalizing any actual contracts is also a great idea. During this meeting you should have a list of questions that can help you determine what exactly the client is looking for and whether or not you will be a good fit for one another.

Having client questionnaires ready to go in your toolkit will help you streamline your client process so you can spend more time on the designs and less time going back and forth with your client.

Going With The Trends

There is nothing wrong with knowing what’s trending and what’s not, but when you’re creating designs such as logos and other brand collateral, you want to make sure you aren’t falling into the trap of creating something only because it’s currently “in”. Branding elements should be timeless. Just like fashion, graphic design style evolves and changes over time. One year we might see soft pastels be very popular, whereas the next year big bold colors are in.

If you are creating your designs based upon what is in style, your designs aren’t going to last more than a couple of years. You do, however, want to develop your own personal style that will remain constant amongst the trends. Websites like Dribble, Behance and Pinterest are great places to find inspiration and start carving out your own unique style.

Not Knowing The Basics Of Web Design

If you thought that HTML and CSS were just for web designers, you might want to think again. While HTML, CSS and various programming languages are definitely skills that are a must for a web designer, it’s also really important for graphic designers to know the basics of web design.

But if you focus on graphic design, why should you need to know anything about web design?

As you probably already know, web and graphic design work very closely. Often times a graphic designer will design a website and a web designer will then bring that website to life by developing it. The complaint that I often come across from web designers in regards to graphic designers is that their designs don’t actually take certain things like user experience into consideration, or whether or not the website will be able to be built within the client’s budget.

If you don’t know the basics of web design, you are going to leave web designers frustrated when you pass off your designs to them. Plus, knowing web design is a great skills to have! Free websites like Codecademy can help you begin to understand front-end coding in an easy and interactive way!