In a design environment it is of most importance to know how to manage critique. In my opinion, the best way is by grabbing onto it and using it as an advantage.

Today’s designers seek global approval. Receiving solid critique on a Behance post is non-existing. If the public likes it, they press like. If the public doesn’t like it, they scroll. This is definitely another form of critique, but not the deep, piece by piece critique I’m referring to.

Myself and my business partner / sister have both studied at the University of Stellenbosch. This was where we were first acquainted with the value of critique. Due to us understanding this, our way of working together is smooth sailing. The Pepperplane team talks openly about what we think of each other’s designs. This enhances the pace and generates a much better solution. Working together and being able to speak freely and receiving critique in an appreciative manner is of most value.   

Critique can be misunderstood and, in some cases, taken as negative remarks. Receiving criticism shouldn’t be from a personal point of view. Criticism is based on what the design represents and supports. Does the design have the target audience in mind? Does the design cater for the main purpose of the product or service?

Designers take their work to heart and develop a strong bond. Being proud of your work is important but being content and placing your client’s needs before your personal guard is even more important.

Self-critique is step number one. If there is an ounce of doubt in your end result, go back to the drawing board. Practice self-critique and refine the design until it’s curated and developed to showcase and support the product or service perfectly. It’s not always up to the client or team to spoon feed you the answer. Take the time and make the effort to evaluate your own work first. After this step, showcase your designs internally. Your deliverable would be much sounder and more appreciated by the client as an end result.

Do you want to grow as a designer? Swallow your pride and start using critique as inspiration and motivation. Kick ass!

Written by: Annette Schuman – 20 July 2020

Get in touch with your creative wing

Designing a brand or website takes time. Illustrating or animating for a new campaign takes time. Developing a new product or service takes time. Time is relative to how passionate you are in succeeding at the highest standard. Time is usually the first excuse that’s used to not complete a task or to not take part in an activity. As we all know, the brilliant Elon Musk or Bill Gates don’t have an extra few hours per day. We’re all circling the same sun.

Do the grunt work.

If you’ve signed up for success, the biggest element that could hinder it is dedicating too little time or effort. The grunt work is the most important part. Once you have one solid recipe and template that succeeds every time, move on to the next piece of grunt work to develop the next success. Success isn’t achieved by waiting for it. It’s achieved by working for it.

Logos are designed by following a long and thorough process. First is the evaluation and research of the business. After that comes the hundreds of sketches from which only one is carefully selected to be refined and used as the company’s brand mark. Following this process makes for a guaranteed end result. The grunt is used to shape and polish that one successful winner.

Use tools and resources to save time.

It’s important to know how to delegate, ask for help and find tools to support your goal. This does not mean someone else will reach your success for you. Sitting back is not the answer. You might have the perfect support system, but that does not mean you can get comfortable. A comfortable mind is high risk for you and your company’s success. Stay on top of all your successes as they will need to grow and adapt.

 

Developing a website takes time. We have done the grunt work by learning and working with clean html/css. Not only has this improved our design but also provided us with a solid knowledge base in the development of a website. Moving on to finding and using the correct tools and resources to save time, was the next step. The only way to identify which tools to use is due to the deep understanding of what’s needed to achieve the goal.

Be prepared.

Being stuck in a difficult situation can be time consuming. Walk away. Clear your mind. Do something completely different and give your brain time to find the solution. Design is the process of creatively solving problems. It’s the designer’s role to identify the specific problems, plan how to solve them within the businesses’ needs and using the correct methods to complete the tasks.

Save time by rather giving yourself a 10-minute break than continuing in the same rut. Spending hours on a specific design or solution might seem productive but is in fact the complete opposite if there is no concrete result. Keep the ball rolling by setting scheduled planned slots. Always be prepared for the difficult times.

 

Be a successful designer. Make the most of your time by growing and nurturing your talent and continuously reaching your next goal. Make circling the sun fun!

Written by: Annette Schuman – 15 July 2020

Get in touch with your creative wing

At Pepperplane we run a 100% remote team which allows us to work from home safely while we work with clients globally. Over the past three years we’ve learned a lot about working from coffee shops, shared office spaces, and of course, home. With COVID-19 spreading at an alarming rate, working away from an office has become the new normal for many. We’ve got a few tips to make the transition smoother and make remote working work for you.

#1 CREATE YOUR WORKSPACE

It can be difficult to concentrate in an environment that you normally relax in after a busy day of work and traffic. You might also be sharing your home space with family or roommates and this could get tricky if none of you are used to working from home.

The first thing to do is to designate a space as your “work space.” It can be a desk in your room, your dinner table or your closet (if things get really distracting, although not recommended). This means that you can “go to work” and keep similar business hours as much as possible.

This designated space will also warn those you share a home with that you’re in work mode and probably not available for a quick coffee or chat.

#2 Get the right tools

We make use of a bagful of tools in order to stay connected and communicate effectively. Here are some of them:

Slack
We use Slack for real-time chat between all our team members. We do our daily updates, group discussions, and all private chats on Slack.

Invision
InVisionApp calls itself a digital product design platform. It’s an amazing tool for prototyping, project presentation, collaboration, and asset handovers.

Google Hangouts
We use Hangouts for all video calls. It’s free, works really well, and it makes it really easy to share calendar invites or links in chats.

Monday
We use monday.com for all our business and project management, tracking, and reporting. It keeps everyone in the loop no matter where they are.

#3 Beat the feeling of isolation

 If you’re used to being in a bustling office or studio environment, sitting at home alone can be very uninspiring. These are our tips to combat the creative cabin fever

Video chats with colleagues

  • You might be someone who draws their creativity from being around co-workers, clients and/or users. Lockdown makes that impossible so you’ll need to find ways to work around it. One way is to have video chats with clients or colleagues to get the interaction you need to fuel creativity.
  • Listen to podcasts to hear some human voices while you work.
  • Join online design communities and contribute as much as possible. Dribbble is a great place to do that! It’s very interactive and a great way to get feedback when you need it.

#4 Stay active

Get up and move around whenever you can. Working on the couch or in bed might be a bit too comfortable and before you know it, it’s 4p.m. and you haven’t moved a muscle.

If you don’t have a lot of space, check out some YouTube videos on stretches, yoga, and home exercise to keep the juices flowing.

Maintain a work/life balance

Relax, take regular breaks, and make sure you get enough sleep. Working from home might mean that you actually have fewer distractions than at the office. This might send you into productivity overdrive, which sounds like a good thing but that can have negative effects over a long period of time. Remember to look up from your screen every now and then, get up and take some deep breaths. Wake up and go to sleep at your regular times, keep office hours, and stick to your normal routine to help assist with this.

Remember to eat! At the office, lunchtime might’ve been a definite break in your day – a chance to socialise with co-workers and just step away from your desk for a while. When working at home you might find that you eat too little or way too much (just because the fridge is right there!). Be cognisant of these changes and find a healthy way to manage them. Maybe try plan a weekly menu full of healthy food (and the occasional treat), set reminders on your phone for meal times, and always have fresh fruit and veg available for quick, healthy snacks.

IN CLOSING

Working from home might be a big adjustment for most people but it’s for a good reason and doing your part will help the world get through this pandemic much faster.

We hope these tips will help you make the most of remote working!

Get in touch with your creative wing

Taking business online has never been easier, nor more important. We thought we’d share a few of our favourite tools that have helped us create amazing work and keep our teams connected.

Sketch

95% of our designs for digital platforms are done on Sketch. It’s a quick, zippy tool geared for UI and UX that covers everything from the rough first draft to the final product. It can be used as a replacement for Photoshop to streamline the design process.

FEATURES we love:

  • Very affordable
  • Asset exports
  • Symbols
  • Amazing pre-sets
  • 100% geared towards UI/UX design

InvisionApp

This is a great digital product design platform. InVisionApp is amazing for prototyping, project presentation, collaboration, and asset handovers. 

We mainly make use of their Prototype, Boards, and Freehand tools. We have also recently started using their DSM (Design System Manager) which we think will become invaluable in future.  

Craft (part of InVision) acts as a plugin for Sketch and Photoshop that can be used to sync your InVision prototype directly from other files. At the same time, the assets are exported and available for developers to use. 

We’ve been using InVision for more than five years and the product is constantly growing and improving. They have a great free trial package if you want to give it a try before investing.    

Features we love:

  • Powerful prototyping functionality.
  • Live updates to prototypes through Craft.
  • Boards for great project presentation, especially for branding. 
  • Amazing feedback functionality (best way to communicate feedback with clients that we’ve found).

Monday

monday.com is a project management and workflow tool that ticks all the boxes and keeps us connected and productive. It enables us to combine at least 4-6 tools in one space and is extremely customisable. It has amazing reporting capabilities that give us great insights into our business and clients. 

Features we love:

  • Time tracking
  • Automations
  • Dashboards
  • Multiple views (Tables, Calendar, Kanban etc.)

Slack

We use Slack for real-time chats between our team members. We do our daily updates, group discussions, and private chats on Slack. It has great integration with apps like monday.com and Calendar. 

Features we love:

  • File uploads
  • Pinning messages to channels
  • Private and public channels

Adobe Suite

For all our print, motion, and audio needs we use the Adobe Suite of apps. Illustrator is used mainly for vector graphics and illustrations. Premier and After Effects is used for all things video. Audacity is used for any audio edits we need to make. The Adobe apps have always been very feature-rich and powerful. They have become very “digital design” friendly over the past few years. 

Features we love:

  • Extensive range of apps and services
  • Creative cloud libraries
  • Adobe fonts
  • Loads of cloud storage

Google Hangouts

We use Hangouts for all of our video calls. It’s free, gets the job done and it’s easy to share calendar invites and links in the chat function. As a Google product, it seamlessly integrates with everything else Google.

Features we love:

  • Instant messaging
  • HD video calls
  • Intelligent muting
  • Easy screen sharing
  • Custom control for admins

Atom

Atom is a great smart code editor that we use on all of our coding projects. It’s range of features and functions take away a lot of the drudge associated with coding. You’re able to install packages to customise the editor and find the best fit for your coding practice.  

Features we love:

  • Collaborative coding
  • Autocomplete
  • Multiple panes
  • File system browser

IN CLOSING

Tools and apps are meant to support the creative process and take as much frustration out of work admin and chores as possible. We hope that this list helps you pick the tools to boost your productivity and make work more fun!

Get in touch with your creative wing