There are a lot of articles out there about what designers should be doing, learning, and making. Some of them are useful, some of them just plain obvious, and the others all just say we should learn to code.
So here are 5 practical ways you can make yourself a better designer right here right meow.
1. Go Outside – Get some fresh air, take a walk, look at what surrounds you, look at what people are doing. It's hard to create fresh work if all we do is look at what others have made. We can feel stifled from their excellence, or just end up creating the same work and following trends. If we know what the world is like, we'll be better equiped at designing things for the people that fit within it. *Bonus Tip, Read books about topics outside of design.
2. Write a Checklist – A great way of improving the quality of your design output is by refreshing your mind over the techniques you already know. Write a checklist that you can run yourself through before sending off any project. Think about how you can remember to check the kerning, colours, DPI, layout/composition, grids & alignment, legibility, and copywriting.
3. Study the Greats – Go back and take a look at some older design work. People like John Hegarty, Peter Saville, Michael Beirut, Paula Scher, Milton Glaser, Massimo Vignelli, Saul Bass, Neville Brody, just to name a few. *Bonus Tip, the book 'Smile in the Mind' is a great example of incredible work and great creative thinking. Go buy it.
4. Watch The Champs – Take a break to watch this video from Aaron James Draplin, and if you have time, check out his episode on Debbie Millman's Design Matters Podcast...then listen to all her other episodes, she is amazing.
5. Get to work – Sorry for a seemingly lazy number 5 and not giving you a final silver bullet but it's true. All the best work is created from hard work and not procrastination. Creativity can involve a good solid think, a walk outside, maybe even a nap at some stage, but you will still have to pick up the tools and create your vision. Refine it, work it more, and finally sell it. If you don't think your work is good enough as it is, redo it, go at it again. Good work takes time.
As my good friend Tom Lane once said 'Work Hard, Be Yourself, and get the fuck on with it'.