Top 5 Things a Designer Should Know to Work at Lightning Speed
If you save just one second each minute for a year, it adds up to more than six full days of effort saved! In an increasingly busy and demanding work environment, designers must create assets faster than ever before. And they’re not only challenged to design quickly, but the outcome must be high quality, professional, and engaging. It’s demanding and often overwhelming.
These five tips will help you minimize tedious production tasks and maximize the time you spend on what matters most: great design.
1. Pick the best app for the job.
To get any job done well, fast, and professionally, it’s important to use the best tools. At the most basic level, this means using Photoshop CC for raster images and Illustrator CC for vector images. At a more advanced level, the new Creative Cloud Libraries allow you to seamlessly integrate your different Adobe apps and streamline the movement of creative elements such as logos, swatches, and styles from one app to another. For example, CC libraries put frequently used assets at your fingertips across your favorite Adobe apps – and when you want to update that logo or graphic it will update everywhere you’re using it.
To really move quickly, Adobe Experience Design (XD) is a powerful new tool for designing and prototyping websites and mobile apps. Before Adobe XD, designers would combine multiple apps and services to meet their design and prototyping needs. Adobe XD is different because it allows you to go from design to prototype in one environment to communicate your ideas and get client feedback. From there, you have the option to export all your graphics in the correct sizes and layouts so they can be easily applied to final products by the development team.
Finally, if you’re in a meeting and you need to capture ideas quickly, skip the whiteboard and start in Adobe Sketch, a mobile app for drawing and painting that feels a lot like drawing on paper. Then sync that back to Photoshop later. If you do need that beautiful design or idea you drew on the whiteboard, use Adobe Capture on your phone or tablet and the image will be automatically available in your Adobe app via CC Libraries.
Start your work with the tool that best aligns to what you need to do in the moment, and create strategically from there to help you design high quality assets faster.
2. Take a shortcut.
When it comes to maximizing your time, understanding the shortcuts built into your tools is critical. For instance, within Illustrator, you can use the – and + keys to add or remove anchor points on a path, instead of clicking in your menus and constantly changing tools. Within Photoshop, the keyboard shortcut CMD+J will allow you to duplicate or “jump” a layer. In fact there’s an entire list of Photoshop shortcuts that can help you optimize the amount of time you’re spending on various projects.
Next, think about the tasks you do regularly, and then determine how you can do them faster. Rearrange panels to reduce the amount of time spent dragging your mouse back and forth across the screen, or customize the Tools panel yourself. In the Photoshop Layers panel, set your workspace to look at object bounds rather than layer bounds. Doing this means that the object you are working on is always visible in detail no matter how small. You can also optimize your design process by using Photoshop’s History panel to undo/redo the visibility of layers. In the History panel options, make sure layer visibility is set to “undoable.” That way when you’re trying to decide which design changes look best, you can always go back in the history to see which layers were visible that made it look so good.
Simple changes like these will put your tools to work for you and let you focus on what you really need to accomplish.
3. Organize with artboards instead of files.
When you’re working on multiple projects at once, it can be easy to get lost in a sea of files and end up with version control issues. Wouldn’t it be nice to spend your valuable time working on your projects instead of organizing your files?
The Adobe products you’re already using make this a reality. Use artboards to minimize the number of files you need — especially if you’re working on a full campaign. Essentially, you have the ability to save multiple artboards in a single file, making it easier to access all of your designs quickly and efficiently. Think of it as a lot of PSD’s in one PSD file. Illustrator, Photoshop and Adobe XD all have this capability.
4. Simplify collaboration.
Another great feature of CC Libraries is the ability to collaborate easily with your project team, your boss, or a vendor. When you collaborate with others on the same CC Library, everybody has access to the same assets, and if any changes have to be made to key design elements, the changes are automatically shared with everybody on the team. This helps ensure consistency and minimizes the risk of somebody using an old color swatch or out-of-date logo.
Additionally, leverage integrations with CC Libraries and Adobe Stock to save loads of time. Simply search for Adobe Stock content directly from any Creative Cloud application that’s integrated with CC Libraries. Save a preview to your library, and then, drag it into a project. Collaborate with stakeholders, and when your design is final and approved, simply right-click the image in your library to license it. In an instant the watermark disappears, your team members have access to the same image, and there’s no need to download the image again and apply all those edits to the purchased version in your file.
5. Master type.
The typical designer probably has hundreds of fonts on their machine, but they actually use maybe 10-12 of their favorites regularly. Rather than having to constantly search for those fonts, designate them as “favorites” for easy access. Or search for keywords like “script” if you want script fonts, and also use “find similar” options. Search thousands of fonts from Adobe Typekit and sync new fonts instantly to your computer — no extra purchase necessary. Typekit is included with your Creative Cloud membership.
Whether in Photoshop CC, Illustrator CC, or InDesign CC, once you’re using a font, you can easily swap out a letter for an alternate glyph if available. Simply select the letter, and you’ll get a pop-up of alternative options. This gives you the opportunity to personalize the individual characters of your design even further.
Lastly, once you’ve designed with a typeface you like, there’s no need to remember the font and font style you used. You can easily save that in a CC Library, and if you’re using a shared library, your team will automatically have access to that font as well.
Focus on creating.
Your time is incredibly valuable, especially as designers are tasked to create more and more high quality assets on a daily basis. The Adobe tools you use every day can help you be more efficient — just remember these hacks, and trick out your desktop to help you avoid tedious tasks and focus more on what you love to do – create.