Working on a design is not just as simple as putting lines, colors, shapes and type together. It entails creative thinking and deep understanding of a project’s concept. Hence, one has to give his heart to his work and also use his thinking skills really well along with his design skills. So when one is working on a design, he also has to check it for some flaws. It doesn’t mean that just because you have the skill that your work would always turn out perfectly. Humans are imperfect in nature and there really would be little flaws no matter how one tries to work on a perfect design. But with consistent self-critiquing and improvement of work, you will be able to arrive to the design that you wanted to achieve.
Self-critique is checking on your own design, searching for flaws and other points to improve. Wikipedia defines it as "auto-critique that refers to the pointing out of things critical/important to one's own beliefs, thoughts, actions, behaviour or results; it can form part of private, personal reflection or a group discussion". You have to think that others really do not have the heart for your design. It is you who have created it out of your imagination and talent. If you want to improve your work, the best pair of eyes you need is your own. So, try self-critiquing since you will find tons of advantages from doing it. But how can you self-critique your design? Here are 10 tips to help you.
1. Check if the concept is good.
Read the brief of the project and think on how you will work on it. See to it that the concept will be easy to understand by your target audience. If you think it is still ambiguous, try to refine it more so it can be easier to understand. Look at your design and think of what comes to your mind upon seeing it. Does it relay the right concept? Is your client’s goal to convey a message to a certain group being achieved? You can try drawing your design on paper first so you can think of better ways to make the concept clear and simple.
2. Look at design from a distance.
When you are designing, you tend to be focused on what you are doing. You seem to get so close to your design and what you see may not be how they actually look life from afar. That is where artistic distance is needed. When designers are too close to their designs, it could create a mental block and would hinder the designer to see the flaws of his own work. So, it is advisable to create artistic distance. This can be done by stepping away from the computer. Stand up, walk around and try to look at your design from a distance. Notice that there are really some things that you cannot see while you are looking at it closely. This is how you can see some flaws that would help you improve your design.
3. Look closely if the layout is neat and proportion.
The layout of a design is very much important. You cannot just place something anywhere around a design. Even scrapbooks consider what items should be placed in a certain part of their workspace. A good layout is always observed in every project. It can help the readers to have an easy time reading. Layout also makes it easier to relay the message of the design. With good proportion, the reader’s eyes will be able to get into the important points of your design and would be guided accordingly. So, check your layout if it is neat and is in proportion.
4. Patch-up a story.
Every design is like a story board. There is always a story behind it. One will be able to get the story at once if you were able to create a good design. One good way of self-critiquing your work is to look at the design and make your story out of it. If you realized that the story you can see is not the story you actually intend to tell, then you have to redo the design or just fix some part of it.
5. Turn your design upside down.
This is another good trick that you can do in order to check some errors in your work especially if it comes to layout and proportion. This can help you to look if the important elements of the design are noticeable. You will also be able to see if the design has good distribution of design elements.
6. Make sure there is depth and texture.
It would be boring if your design is flat. So, even if you are actually working on a flat surface, give it some life by adding depth and texture. Look at your design if you have used these elements, if not, try to experiment with textures. A paper texture might look better instead of a mere color block. There are many design resources you can get in the internet which you can use to improve your design.
7. Look into your typography.
Type is a sensitive part of design. It isn’t just there to add appeal but it is there to convey a message and information. You have to make sure that your typography is readable and legible. If not, then you might as well change your font type or maybe increase it in size. Put yourself on the audience’s shoes. Can you read the text? Is the font style and color right? Every typography font has a different message same as how colors have different color psychology. So, choose well. You can also use simpler fonts and then have a good arrangement or layout to come up with interesting typography. See What Designers Need to Know About Typography and Reasons Why it is Important to Choose the Right Typography Font for more discussions on typography.
8. Spot elements with strong visual interest.
Check your design for some elements that have strong visual interest. It can be an interesting typography or a photograph. If you can see that everything has strong visual interest, you might need to tone down the others because it will make your design look crowded. When you notice that the design is just too muted, add more life to it by using a good photo or maybe by playing with good typography. A design without visual interest would end up in the trash bin.
9. Convert it to grayscale or monochromatic color.
For sure, you have done everything to make your design look good especially if it pertains to color. Your design would look great with all the colors in it but are you sure that it is right? One way to check that is to convert it into grayscale or in other monochromatic colors. Remember how black and white could let one see the unseen? What I mean is that black and white will make you look at the entire design equally, without getting attracted to a certain colorful point. This way, you will be able to check if the color and contrast needs to be changed. If you can see that everything is readable and clear in grayscale, it means that your design is good.
10. Let it sit on screen.
So, if you are done with your design, let it sit on screen. Well, we are not telling you to let it stay there for a long time because we do understand that every designer has deadlines to beat. When you are done, open the design and let it stay on the computer screen while you do other things like making calls, preparing your stuff and other activities that do not involve using the computer. Look at the design once in a while. This can help you see some aspects of the design which you haven’t seen while you were still working on it.
It's Your Turn Now
Self-critiquing your design would be beneficial not just to come up with a good output but also to asses yourself on what you need to improve regarding your workflow and work strategies. This can sharpen your skills to become a better graphic designer or web designer. So, before you let your colleagues and friends see your design, self-critique your work first. Hope this post can help you to check on your own designs. How do you self-critique your work? Would you like to share it to us?