I'm pretty lucky that my dad is a smart guy – (and a technical wizard to boot)
The first thing he does in any new house is setup his extensive tool bench. He's got electronic & mechanical parts that are older than I am — but that means he's able to fix pretty much anything. And all the neighbors know to go over to his house to get anything fixed.
Last weekend I was over at my parent's house when we got to talking about the problems with my wireless network. I couldn't figure out why my network kept dropping – even when I was right next to the router.
My dad then started troubleshooting – and asked me when I started having problems with my network. I remembered it was about the time we renovated our basement – and added a new cable line. Aha – the line was probably not terminated correctly – and he dove into his toolbox to me the exact part I needed to fix the line.
How can you apply this to your business?
When it comes to design and development, you should have an arsenal of tools at your disposal. Got a design dilemma? Want to stand out from the sea of mediocre designers who do the same thing over and over? Pull from your toolbox!
Here are some things I routinely add to my toolbox:
- Try out a new photoshop action (check out alexbeadonphotography.com)
- Buy a new typeface (I love youworkforthem.com)
- Try a new color combination (design-seeds.com is a fantastic resource)
- Try new photoshop and illustrator brushes (I love wegraphics.net)
- Test a new plugin (latest fav? soliloquy slider)
- Try to replicate a coding technique (parallax scrolling for a client – artofattention.com)
When you have a variety of options and ideas, you stay inspired and create better work – and a better result for your client. And you don't burnout doing the same thing over and over.
I see too many designers relying on templated plug and play solutions. Why do you keep designing the same site over and over? (yes, I get that you want a horizontal opt-in – but how can you make it unique?)
What can you do to push the design, meet your client's technical & marketing needs and keep you inspired?
With every site I do, I strive to do at least one new thing – whether a design element, a technique, or figuring out a new bit of code that improves the project.
What are you doing to build your toolbox?
Let me know in the comments!