Every designer works at their own pace, and it doesn’t always mean faster is better. In fact, rushing through jobs is the fastest way to thin your clientele if that’s what you’re after. It’s important, however, to benchmark your turnaround time to keep yourself accountable. Imagine if you could pump out equal quality at a faster rate. At the end of the year, that means more deadlines met, more satisfied customers, and more time for new projects. If you’re struggling to meet deadlines on time, or just want to add more efficiency to your workflow, read on to see our ‘design smarter, faster’ tips!

In our last post, we shared design timelines to give you a basic framework to budget your design time. To recap, here are some basic rules of thumb:

  • Most single digital collaterals take from 1 to 6 days to complete
  • Most print collaterals take from 6 to 12 days to complete

So now that you have timelines for your graphic design projects in mind, let’s get you up to speed.

Women flying on an iPhone through the clouds at speed

Working Smarter

There is a saying used in the Navy Seals, “slow is smooth, smooth is fast.” This is all about working smarter, not harder, and can be applied to virtually any discipline. Use the following design tips to take a more tactical approach to your workflow, and save time as a result:

  • Use Good Layout Books

There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel here. Reference amazing layouts as a starting point and find one that resonates with the project at hand. This eliminates all the time spent nudging this a little to left, and that a little to the right.

“Good design is about good layout. No matter how much time you invest into typography, photography and color, you can forget about moving forward if your layout looks bad.” — Peter Ukovic, 99designs

  • Sketch First, Design Second 

Skrillex once said, “Sketch fast, finish best.” Of course, he is talking about making Dubstep, but this visual analogy lends itself as well to, well, making visuals. 

See what works, and what doesn’t work, before you start honing in on a final project.

By picking a pencil, or simply allowing yourself the creative space to first make a mess in your design software, you will save countless hours you would spend polishing a ‘final project’ that didn’t work as a draft in the first place. 

  • Decide on a Design Style Upfront

What type of design style is right for the client, their brand, and their message?

Every design will fall into one of three broad categories: — Peter Ukovic, 99designs

    • Photography-based designs are “driven by good photography choices, accompanied [by] a great layout.”
    • Illustration-based requires good drawing skills and a client with a flair for illustration.
    • Type-based designs “rely on great use of typography to provide the necessary visual interest.”
  • Get a Faster, Better Computer

“A fast computer, larger screen and lots of memory DO make you a better designer, regardless of your talent. Your time, sanity and work satisfaction are equally important as the ideas in your head and skills in your hands. Never be afraid to pay for your tools. At the end of the day, they pay for your bills.” — Peter Ukovic, 99designs


More Design Tips (for your sanity)

  • Selfcare & Concentration
  • Get Enough Rest
  • Turn off Email, Phone, and Other Distractions
  • Avoid Multitasking

Don’t forget air and water!


Want more work-smarter design tips? Get an extra speed boost to your graphic design by reading 10 Habits to Design Twice as Fast by Creative Market


How Can Clients Help Move the Project Faster? By VMG Studios

Meme: Clients want their graphic design now, but don't know what it is they want.

It takes two to tango. As a designer, kindly supply these tips to clients that might need them. As a client, use this as a best practice when approaching designers to get the best results and the fastest turnaround.

  1. Set a Deadline –  “It’s best to start with an end date and then backtrack your timeline from there.” If time allows, give yourself an extra buffer day or week to account for unforeseen circumstances that may delay the project. 
  2. Prepare Materials Ahead of Time – You can always prepare some design materials ahead of time if you have a vision in mind. Are there any photos you want to use? What size or ratio should the asset be? Does your company have a logo or vector you want to be used? 
  3. Client Feedback – The sooner your designer hears back from you, the sooner your asset will be revised and delivered. Don’t hesitate to be specific about what changes you want made. Marking up a print-out or copy of the design is an excellent way to visually describe your feedback. After all, designers are ‘visual people’.


1-Stop Design Shop Rush Jobs

Q: Help! I have an emergency! Can you put a rush on my job?

A: 1-Stop will do our absolute best to ensure you’re happy with the final product. Call us as soon as an emergency happens, and 1-Stop is to the rescue!

Contact 1-Stop Design Shop about your next design or rush job here.