As a designer, it’s always important to have a bank of design resources to pull from. You’ll need to use them when your well of inspiration is running dry, when you’re looking to learn a new technique or program, or when you’re just looking to stay up to speed in the design world.
Where can you find these things? Look no further: I have compiled some of my favorite resources across many platforms for your viewing pleasure and (hopefully) unending learning.
- Just My Type: A Book About Fonts by Simon Garfield—A really quick read that highlights typographers, type foundries, type crimes, and yes, even Comic Sans, chapter-by-chapter. A great combination of information and humor!
- How to Think Like a Great Graphic Designer by Debbie Millman— A series of interviews with famous designers who lend tips to young designers starting out in the industry.
- Graphic Style Lab: Develop Your Own Style with 50 Hands-On Exercises by Steven Heller—A really fun instructional book with fifty “assignments” relating to different design movements that help you establish or further develop your personal style.
- Graphic Design Thinking by Ellen Lupton—A great resource on how to improve your design process and how to think through problems to reach the best solution.
- Little Book of Lettering by Emily Gregory—Eye candy! A beautiful examples of hand lettering from designers like Jessica Hische, Marian Bantjes, and Louise Fili.
- Graphic Design: A New History by Stephen J. Eskilson—A complete history of design that shows the evolution of different movements, styles, and inventions ranging from the Gutenberg Bible to Swiss Style.
- Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML by Eric T Freeman—The cheesiest, easiest way to break into the world of web design.
- Adventures in Design with Mark Brickey and Billy Bauman—A no-filter, hilarious podcast talking about the print side of design, gig-posters, and what it’s like to work for yourself.
- Design Matters with Debbie Millman—A podcast about design and an inquiry into the broader world of creative culture through wide-ranging conversations with different designers.
- pinterest.com—Used cautiously (there is just as much bad design on Pinterest as there is good), Pinterest can be a great place to find inspiration and learning tools to integrate into your own design.
- behance.net—This site showcases work from designers all across the world in many different fields.
- instagram.com—A good way to get a healthy dose of design in your newsfeed (Follow Louise Fili, you won’t regret it).
- twitter.com—Are you on Twitter? Get on Twitter. Follow everyone.
- dribbble.com—Another great show and tell site for designers.
- AIGA.org—The American Institute of Graphic Arts’ site is full of design tips, professional work, and job postings.
- howdesign.com—It’s easy to spend hours exploring this site. It’s full of inspiration, articles, and beautiful work.
- typography-daily.com—Home of unending typography!
- creativebloq.com—Similar to howdesign, this site is full of design articles that you will spend far too much time browsing.
- fastcodesign.com—From the infographic of the day to free typefaces, fastcodesign won’t let you down.
- thedieline.com—This site displays beautiful examples of packaging design.
- photoshoptutorials.ws—The importance of this site lies in the Photoshop knowledge you can gain by completing different tutorials, not how ugly the design of some projects actually are.
- lynda.com—An online education company that offers thousands of video courses in basically anything you could imagine.
- skillshare.com—A “learning community for creators” similar to Lynda, it’s a fantastic place to learn new things and share your knowledge, too!
Want to spread the design love? Share your favorite sites, books, or any other resources with us!
When we craft brands and design assets for clients, we are always thinking about strategy and communication as well as aesthetics. Form and function work together to create the best experience for users, no matter the medium or industry.
Audio Scripture Ministries (ASM) is one such client that we had the pleasure of working with. Among the assets we built for them was a new website. Not only did we build the site with user experience and interface in mind, we looked further to meet industry-related requirements—namely, Charity Navigator.
Charity Navigator is an organization that rates nonprofit organizations based on their financial health and accountability and transparency, with a maximum rating of four stars after averaging the scores of the two categories. Many people check Charity Navigator scores and reports to determine if their donation is going to a good organization and being used properly. If they like what they see, they’re more likely to continue giving; if they don’t, they may well take their donation elsewhere.
We noticed this lack and brought it to ASM’s attention. We then added all of this information in the spring during our rebrand and redesign of the website. As a result, we have helped ASM bring their three-star rating up to a four-star rating. They now have a 100.00 rating in the accountability and transparency category. Paired with their already excellent financial health score, this pushed them up to a four-star overall rating.
Whatever type of client we have, including nonprofits, we are always looking to meet and exceed industry standards so they can put their best foot forward. Our collaborative workflow and strategic process allows us to create solutions that help capture our client’s vision and apply it in an intentional, business-minded way.
See ASM’s Charity Navigator Report: www.charitynavigator.org
Visit ASM’s website: www.asmtoday.org
Previously, I posted about Kate Turabian, The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS), and how they’re relevant to our work of verbal storytelling here at Black Lake. (You can find that post here.) CMOS’s rules are designed to increase the clarity of your writing. After all, the clear communication of ideas is one of the main purposes of written prose, especially in the business world. You’ll do no one any favors if your writing causes confusion instead of understanding and engagement.
Another aim of CMOS is imposing consistency, both internally (within a single written piece, or within a single organization) and externally (between organizations that subscribe to CMOS’s standards). This may sound uptight and oppressive, but it’s really a matter of professionalism. If the same word is spelled differently in two different places on the same brochure, or the headline formatting on your website is all over the place, you’re going to look sloppy and unprofessional. And if too many different style guidelines are being used by different organizations, or if these guidelines differ too widely, mutual intelligibility will suffer.
To summarize, style guides like CMOS help us write clearly and professionally, and they foster consistency between organizations. However, in your efforts to comply with CMOS, you may run into some tricky style issues. There are a lot of rules, and they can be hard to keep track of. Here are the top four that I’ve run into, with some tips on how to get them right: Continue Reading…
When I was studying history at Hope College, the name Turabian was used with near-religious reverence and fear. You didn’t ask why you were supposed to do something with your footnotes—you simply did it because “that’s what Turabian says.” Our professors enforced the inflexible edicts of Turabian exactly as they were set down in the book we all had to live by.
Who (or what) was this Turabian creature? In actual fact, she was a woman who lived between 1893 and 1987 who had a great impact on American English style. However, she is better known as the vengeful, near-immortal demigoddess of footnotes, the patron saint of history students and editors, and the un-photographable supreme arbiter of style. (Seriously, there are no verifiable photos of her on the Internet. I looked. She may have been a vampire.)
Here at Black Lake, as in many other U.S. companies and institutions, we use the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as our standard for the spelling and definition of English words. It’s the ultimate source of all the vocabulary used in our work, and whenever there’s a question, we default to Merriam-Webster. But how did this dictionary come to be a common standard? Let’s take a look at some history to find out.
It turns out that the dictionary dates back to Noah Webster (1758-1843), a master lexicographer and linguist who was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and grew up during the Revolutionary War. Webster was an advocate of the Constitutional Convention, and he wanted to cultivate a distinctly American culture and language to set the new nation apart from Europe.
This led him to dedicate his considerable talents to writing A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language, published in 1806. With 37,000 entries, this tome was the first truly American dictionary. He later followed up this effort with his magnum opus, An American Dictionary of the English Language, in 1828. Webster actually learned twenty-six languages, including Anglo-Saxon and Sanskrit, so he could work on the etymologies of the words in his dictionary. The volume was a bold declaration of America’s linguistic independence, and it set a new standard for American English.