7 Life Hacks for Designers

Posted on June 23, 2014 | Updated on October 26, 2022

It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned graphic designer or just cutting your teeth in the industry; life hacks help us all do things a little easier, a little faster and a little better.  Life hacking doesn’t mean you’re lazy; it just means you’re all about optimizing your time and efforts to yield results. Below you’ll find seven life hacks for designers that will increase your productivity and make your job a little easier.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage has revolutionized the way we store and share files. There are also several options now for backing up your hard drive to the cloud. For those who travel often or work on the go, cloud storage is a must. If you rely heavily on cloud storage, ADrive offers 50GB of storage on its free plan, an amount that most cloud services charge for. ADrive also offers several paid options as well. Their signature 50 GB account includes security features and other services, like an FTP and backup.

Replicate Good Design

Every designer knows that the best ideas are stolen. Of course this doesn’t mean to just copy someone’s designs entirely and take all the credit. This means that good ideas are meant to be built upon. That’s how trends start. Parallax websites, flat UI, and dynamic backgrounds were all ideas that took off because people liked it, wanted to replicate it and then added their own spin on it. You can Google tutorials on techniques you’d like to learn, and many of them come with source files that you can use. Sites like Freepik include free UI kits and website templates. Don’t be afraid to peek under the hood of your favorite websites to get ideas for you next design.

Add a Color Picker Browser Extension

Having a color picker extension is a must as a web developer. These extensions allow users to access the color information for any website. Chrome offers several options, including ColorZilla. ColorZilla has several handy features, like a color picker (eye dropper) tool, web page color analyzer and more.  There’s also a color palette browser that gives the RGB values, Hex codes, and even names for web safe colors. It’s quite a nifty little tool, and almost every browser has several similar extension options available.

Download Free Resources

If you’re just starting out in graphic or web design, your resources and funds may be pretty limited, while more experienced freelancers and larger firms may be able to afford subscriptions to sites like iStockphoto or Shutterstock. We talked about Freepik earlier, but there are others like Vecteezy, Brusheezy and Bittbox. You can search these sites for templates, stock photos and design resources like Photoshop and Illustrator files. Doing a quick Google search for “free icons” or “graphic design resources” will bring up compilations done by design bloggers of free graphic and web design resources on the Internet. Some of them feature high-quality social media icons, textures or other resources.

Get a Mac

It’s no surprise that Mac is the computer of choice for most serious designers and developers. Of course there’s an eternal war between PC and Mac users, but we won’t spend time on that. Mac has some pretty design-friendly features that can make your job a bit easier. The intuitive nature of Macs make them very easy to work with, including the track pad gestures. You can put whole applications on separate desktops and switch between them using a simple three-fingered swipe motion.

Use the Mac Screenshot Feature

Also the built-in screen capture function is very simple to access and use. Command-Shift-3 instantly captures a screenshot of your entire screen. Cmd-Shift-4 allows you to select the area you need to capture. To capture a specific window, use Command-Shift-4 and then Space bar. If you don’t have a Mac, install LightShot for the ability to crop screenshots as you take them.

Get Chrome’s DevTools Extension

The Inspect Element feature of the DevTools Extension is an invaluable resource for any web developer.  Not only can you get a glimpse under the hood of any website, but you can also play around with the code to see how changes affect the look and layout in real-time. DevTools also performs load time audits for webpages and help developers quickly find and identify problems within complex JavaScript code.

So, designers, hack away! There’s no shame in taking shortcuts when they yield the same or better results than doing it the hard way. Everyone can use a few hints to make their work just a little easier and their day a little more productive.

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About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her exploring the outdoors with her husband and dog in their RV, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or curled up with a good book with her cats Gem and Cali.

You can find more of Eleanor's work at www.eleanorhecks.com.

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