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mobile optimization checklist

The Mobile Optimization Checklist

I’ll bet most of you either specialize in web design, or at least offer it as a client service. Like it or not, in 2017 (and beyond,) this means you need to know how to design for mobile devices. With over half of Internet browsing taking place on mobile, we as designers can no longer afford to ignore it.

In this episode, we go through a checklist of everything you need to think about in order to satisfy mobile users, as well as search engines in regard to mobile web design. We cover two major areas:

  1. Site speed
  2. User experience

We also tackle a new audio question about whether turning to UX/UI design can result in fewer client objections.

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SEO for designers

Designing with SEO in Mind

If you offer web design services, how well do you know the mysterious art of SEO? For any noobs out there, that stands for “search engine optimization,” and is usually a very important aspect to almost any website. Any SEO expert will tell you that it’s always better to plan your search strategy from the beginning, but all too often, it is added in at the last minute as an afterthought.

In this episode, Wes offers some basic training in planning SEO from the start, and how that will impact the rest of the project. if you can nail the basics, any site you design will be in a much better position when the real work of link-building begins.

We also answer a new listener question about making your phone number public, and the types of clients you might attract that way (and how to better qualify them.)

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value based pricing for designers

Charging for Your Value

In the world of graphic design, most people charge one of two ways: based on time or per project. But let’s face it, both are usually based on some type of time-based calculation. The problem with this method is that nobody really benefits from it.

Your client is ends up paying for the time you spend, not a tangible result. And you are essentially just trading time for money. Why not charge your clients based on the value you bring to them instead?

In this episode, the gang talks all about the ins and outs of this method of pricing, as well as our own experiences with it. If you aren’t using this pricing model yet, you should really consider it. It will only benefit you and your clients, as you now have a vested stake in their success.

We also answer a listener question about a possibly tacky method of advertising.

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design subcontractors

Supplementing with Subcontractors

We love getting topic suggestions from our listeners, and today’s episode is one of those. We’ve talked a lot over the year about subcontracting work out to others. It’s a great way to fill in your skill gaps, or just have extra hands in order to focus on more important business-building tasks. In today’s episode, you’ll hear how we started getting our feet wet hiring subcontractors, what duties we give them, as well as a whole lot of advice we wish we’d known from the beginning.

We also answer an audio question about where we turn to keep learning in a very crowded Internet.

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graduating from design school

Advice for the Graduating Design Student

With spring break well behind us, thoughts turn to summer, and maybe even graduation. Good thing we have our resident design professor Nick to dole out some awesome advice to all you grads out there. And in the spirit of not leaving the rest of you out, this advice is pretty great for any designer when it comes to job interviewing, and portfolio sprucing.

We also answer a listener question about the best way to become known as an authority in the design realm.

Also, if you happen to get the awesome reference in our featured image above, go ahead and leave a comment. You’ll definitely earn our respect.

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listener question show

DesignCast 130: A Good, Old Fashioned Listener Question Show

We’ve reached another milestone, (assuming 130 is indeed a milestone?) So we’re back to clear out the ol’ inbox and answer your burning questions. We have seven different ones, so there is really something for everyone in this episode.

We know we’ve been doing live episodes for this lately, but we just forgot to tease it on the last episode, so we went back to “the old way” just this once. #sorrynotsorry

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qualifying design clients

Qualifying Your Clients

Whenever you first meet with a new prospective client, they are sizing you up. And if you’re smart, you’re sizing them up right back. After all, you probably don’t want to work with everyone who comes your way. There are many things to consider: their budget versus your rates, their niche, their project, and their overall attitude. In short, you need to figure out pretty quickly whether or not you want to work with this person.

In today’s episode, the gang dissects the qualification process. Why we do it, and how. Because if you’re serious about your design business, you need to be selective with your clients. Some will make your job incredibly fulfilling, and some will make you hate getting up in the morning. Even worse, pick the wrong clients consistently enough, and you’ll be out of business altogether.

We also answer a listener question about sending out physical work samples to get new business, and how to do that with nothing but “concept” portfolio work.

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graphic design mood board tips

Getting Our Mood Board On

If you’ve ever felt like your first client comps aren’t nailing it, you really need to give mood boards a try. Mood boards are a way to save time by quickly communicating an overall design direction to your client for approval. This can involve just one that they need to approve, or multiple variations from which they can choose a direction. Either way, by getting this visual feedback up front, your first comps will come much closer to hitting the bulls-eye.

The gang talks about their own experiences with mood boards, as well as tips and tricks to make sure you’re getting everything you can out of this exercise, (and have a little moment of creative zen along the way.)

We also answer a listener question about landing an agency job with no prior agency experience, (as well as little to no digital experience.)

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graphic design project minimums

Project Minimums to Maximize Business

Nothing can kill the productivity of a designer faster than a neverending barrage of small jobs. You have to wrap your head around a new brand, create invoices, and client interactions for a micro-payout. This is why it is so crucial to have a project minimum — the absolute minimum amount you’re willing to take on a new job for.

This can be applied to either money, time or scope. Whatever makes the most sense for you and your design business. In this episode, the gang talks all about why having a minimum is important, and what can be wasted without one. And of course, we all have stories to tell on the subject.

We also answer a new listener question about the specific marketing/messaging that got us our first “big fish” clients.

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setting design trends

Be Your Own Trendsetter

We talk a lot about design trends, but when is it time to break away from the pack and try something totally different? And with a never ending supply of design inspiration out there, how do you turn down the noise enough to explore your own creativity?

In this episode, the gang explores this idea, and how it can apply to print, branding and web design. We’ve got some great examples from our own projects, and we also talk about how to push the envelope creatively within the real-life constraints that we often find ourselves in.

We also answer a new listener question about how to make potential clients see your work as superior, when they lack the “designer’s eye.”

And special shout-out to Aleisther Guido for this awesome piece of fan art!

pink fan art

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