My Design Board

Written by fionagan January 24th, 2016

After designing for some time, I noticed that I have developed a design process for myself when I take on a new design task: Research: I breakdown what the task […]

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After designing for some time, I noticed that I have developed a design process for myself when I take on a new design task:

  1. Research: I breakdown what the task is about, who is the client and who am I designing for
    • be familiar with the brand (colours, fonts, style)
    • think from the client and audience’s perspective, what message am I trying to convey or want to receive?
  2. Get Inspirations: find out how the concept is visualized by other people
    • My first stop is always Google Images search, type in the keywords and get an unfiltered list of images that range from cartoons to photos to tacky advertisements
    • Once I have a general idea, I go to Pinterest / Tumblr / DeviantArt for a more refined search
    • I save those images in a folder called “Inspirations” to refer back to when designing
  3. Get Resources: fonts, vectors, icons, brushes etc.
    • At this point, I should have several ideas in my head on how the design might look like (although I never end up designing a final product that’s anything like my initial ideas), and I get the necessary fonts and other resources I need to piece the design together.
  4. Create Drafts: Start designing, even if the idea is not quite complete
    • I like to have my design canvas on one screen, the design requirements and any inspirations/reference designs on the other, so I can easily refer back to what exactly am I supposed to design.
    • This stage could be the most fun or most stressful, because there will be times where I have no idea what I’m trying to create with the pieces I have in front of me, but I find taking breaks very helpful in getting out of that “design fatigue”
  5. Edit, Get Feedback and Edit and Edit and Edit: There is no other way
    • Keep experimenting with fonts and others, edit until I think it’s flawless
  6. Saving and Exporting the Files: Never thought this as a design challenge until you need to find that file after a couple months or years
    • I like to put the client’s name in [], followed by the name of the document and version/draft number, then my name in (). It helps me to organize my files and folders, and makes it easy to find files when they’re sorted in a list alphabetically.

This process works quite well for me except that I have my design requirements and inspirations in different places, and having multiple design files for different versions of the design can be confusing at a later visit. So I decided to invest my time in making a “template” that would allow me to do the 6 steps above all in one place. The timing coincided well with my role as Head of Design at You’re Next Career Network (YNCN), in training the designs to deliver quality designs with consistent branding, and the following “Marketing Design Board” was made.


Marketing Design Board


This design board mimics my personal workspace, and is designed to help designers (including myself) in creating marketing collaterals for their initiative, ready to send off to reviewers for design feedback. As a designer, I would follow the numbered steps in solid arrows, and use the reference materials, such as required branding fonts and colours (marked with a “R”) when designing. A “Checklist” is also discreetly embedded as a desk calendar.


(1) Choose Avatar

I made an avatar for each designer, so by selecting their own avatar, we all know who is responsible for the designs.

(2) Project Description

I fill in the initiative name, project name and what the project is about, which gives me a chance to interpret the what exactly am I designing in my own words and provide clear context for whoever is viewing my work, could be myself 5 years later too!

(3) Medium & Size

Since online graphics differ greatly from print, I want to mark it clearly and remind myself to check the resolution/colour settings for each medium.

(4) Due Date

Another helpful reminder for myself and whoever is reviewing my work.


The Mood board

All the inspirations from searches can be pasted in here.


(5) Your designs

  1. I experiment in 5A to come up with 1-3 general concepts and paste them over to 5B under “Concepts”. This is to encourage variety as there are many ways to express an idea and I want to keep my options open and not be limited with the obvious.
  2. Then I choose the best concept and make variations of that concept by changing smaller details such as arrangement, fonts, or colours, and paste them under “Drafts”.
  3. After more tweaking, I finalize the design and check canvas settings, ready for exporting!

(6) File Naming

A guideline for everyone to stay organized. From personal experience, this 20 second task can save hours of digging later on.



That’s all

This sums up how I would design from the start to finish. You might have a different process and I’d love to hear about them, drop me a line and we can chat 🙂


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