40 Rules of Design

This week I turned forty. For about half of those years I’ve been a designer. What better way to celebrate than by compiling a list of my very own design rules?

  1. Never stretch a logo disproportionately
  2. Always push for details before starting a project
  3. Never use a style only because it’s trendy
  4. Always design a logo in black and white first
  5. Never use your own child in an ad
  6. Always tell clients when you strongly disagree
  7. Never use more than two fonts in a logo
  8. Always be tactful when giving clients advice
  9. Never offer concepts you hope are not selected
  10. Always create a logo using vectors
  11. Never use smart quotes in place of dumb quotes
  12. Always remember italicized text is harder to read
  13. Never be so clever that your purpose is unclear
  14. Always design a great logo for your own business
  15. Never be satisfied with your first idea
  16. Always keep your designs understandable at a glance
  17. Never use script fonts in all caps
  18. Always proofread thoroughly
  19. Never quote a job without a defined scope
  20. Always understand how your design will be used
  21. Never use a hyphen in place of an em dash
  22. Always confirm readability at the final size
  23. Never put two spaces after a period
  24. Always read project contracts thoroughly
  25. Never use a concept only because it’s clever
  26. Always be realistic when committing to timelines
  27. Never start and finish a design in one sitting
  28. Always work in the appropriate color space
  29. Never ask for critique if you can’t handle criticism
  30. Always eliminate unnecessary design elements
  31. Never emphasize website text by underlining
  32. Always address vague issues with clients immediately
  33. Never avoid using the phone when you have questions
  34. Always use all caps sparingly
  35. Never use images you don’t have rights to
  36. Always design a piece so it requires few words
  37. Never design for a cause you don’t believe in
  38. Always be open to the fact that your design may be bad
  39. Never let fear of failure keep you from beginning
  40. Always enjoy the process

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