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New Year’s resolutions for designers

Morgan Smith's Layout avatar

The end of the year is almost here, which means it’s time to celebrate your accomplishments and pick a couple things you want to do better in 2016. And while New Year’s resolutions may not always come true, it sure does feel good to set a couple goals for yourself and start the year off on the right foot.

Everyone has different dreams in life, so you’ll have to come up with your own unique resolutions for the new year. But if you haven’t decided what you want to change in 2016 yet, these New Year’s resolutions for designers might just give you some inspiration.

Drop that client that drives you crazy

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We all have one at one point or another, that client that keeps the bills paid but drives you absolutely bonkers. If you’re currently working with this person, there’s no better time than a new year to cut the ties. Of course, be professional about it – don’t just leave in the middle of a project. But as soon as the opportunity comes along, take it. Find a new client that you like working with more. It’ll be better for both of you in the long run.

Never dropped a client before? Here’s how to let them down easy and keep that relationship alive.

Create your own font

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For those of you who love hand lettering (or who want to try it out this year) consider creating your own font! It can be as simple as your own natural handwriting, or you can break out the grid paper and your favorite writing utensil to create a typeface masterpiece. While this might be just a for-fun project, it could also turn into a really neat addition to your business. You might be able to use it in a future project, or even sell it on a marketplace.

Ready? Create your own font in six easy steps.

Master the trends of 2016

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Every year brings new design trends with it, just waiting to be used on your next site design. This year, don’t get behind on those trends. Discover your favorites and learn how to incorporate them into some of your work. If parallax is still around, learn how to build a parallax site. If it’s all about the ghost button, experiment with some CSS to style the coolest ghost button in town.

We’re about to release our trend predictions for 2016. Subscribe to The Layout to be the first to know.

Update your portfolio

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You probably did a lot of really awesome stuff in 2015. Let everyone know about it by updating your portfolio! This could also include your website, your blog, or even your branding materials if it’s time for a rebrand. It’s easy to forget to update these things, so start the year off right by giving your online presence a makeover.

You should really include your process in your portfolio. Here are five good reasons.

Master the art of sketching

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Ok, so you may never be the next Picasso, but sketching is a valuable tool to add to your wheelhouse. It’s a great way to help others visualize what you have in mind, plus it can be incredibly relaxing when you’re stressed about a project. If sketching isn’t already part of your process, just try it out. Practice makes perfect.

Try these five tips. You’ll be a sketching master in no time.

Raise your rates

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It’s a new year, and unless you’re just starting out, you’ve been doing your thing for a while now. You’ve worked in the field and have grown your expertise, which means it’s time to charge more for your services. If this makes you nervous, you don’t have to drastically increase your rate, and you can even keep your current clients at their current rate. But for new clients, make sure you’re getting paid what you deserve. You’ve earned it!

Which billing method is right for you, a flat rate or hourly rate?

Do one fun project for yourself

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In 2016, don’t get too caught up in your work. Remember to do fun projects for yourself, also. These could be related to design, like trying your hand at animation or experimenting with a new style, or completely unrelated, like taking improv classes or learning to play the ukelele. Taking time for yourself will keep your skills on point and your mind ready to work.

Need some ideas? Try these fun side projects for designers.

Find a new creative spot to work

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Even if you have an awesome workspace, challenge yourself to find one new spot in 2016 that you love to work in. Maybe it’s a new coffee shop, a coworking space, or even just your home office with a little makeover. Keeping your surroundings fresh will help keep your inspiration fresh, as well.

Ever tried a coworking space? It might be just what you need.

Learn to say no

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In the new year, it’s time to stop accepting jobs that you don’t fall in love with. You’ve worked hard to start your business or grow your agency, so it’s time to focus that energy on finding the best clients. Turn down jobs that you don’t get excited about, and say no to clients who just aren’t a good fit. If you’re successful at this, then next year, you can skip right over the “Drop that client who drives you crazy” resolution and move onto the more fun ones!

Seriously, saying no will strengthen your portfolio. Here’s how to say it gracefully.

Your own resolutions will be as unique as your design style, but hopefully some of these gave you some inspiration for what you’d like to improve in 2016.

So let’s hear it, what are your resolutions this year?

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