“There are few rites of spring more satisfying than the annual clean.”– Martha Stewart
As of today, spring is officially here, and that means it’s time to open those windows for some fresh air and start seeing the glimpses of those budding blossoms you planted the previous year. Spring time at my home means one thing, it’s time for some spring cleaning. Throwing out old belongings, doing a deep clean of every nook and cranny in my home, and scrubbing the entire home free of winters’ grime.
Just like an annual spring cleaning of a home, I think it is important for designers to do some “spring cleaning” in their designs. Most people don’t enjoy starting a spring cleaning project and don’t know where to start, but luckily for you, I have written up a helpful five-step design spring cleaning process and I am here to guide you through this easy, and refreshing, journey.
Step 1: Make a Checklist
Before you start your design project, make a checklist of all the deliverables and pieces you will be creating or the pieces you need to create this deliverable. For example, if you are creating a new logo for a client, your checklist will most likely include things like: color options, different typefaces, different file types the client might need from you, and possibly a full style tile for this logo for presentation purposes.
Step 2: Gather All Materials
Now that you know what you need from your checklist, it’s time to hunt down the items needed to get this project done. Whether you have vintage ephemera lying around your office, book cases full of old Communication Arts magazines, or you rely on your trusty design goals mood board on Pinterest, now is the time to get some inspiration for how you plan on tackling this project. You need to gather color options, photography, typefaces and in some cases, you might need to download new software to your computer.
Step 3: Throw Things Out
Once you’ve gathered all the items needed and started your design process, and after many late nights and several cups of coffee, you get to a point in your design process that you can stop and weed out the options that are not working. This is when you need to move that option off your artboard and hit delete. Sure, I love pandas and desperately want to use a panda in the logo, but ask yourself, “Is this working?” Most likely working those late nights has resulted in a few bad decisions in your design process, like trying to add a panda in your logo, but this is your opportunity to throw those options out before the client sees them.
Step 4: Clean Everything
Now comes the time to clean up your final design choices. You’ve tackled almost everything on this list and now it is time to clean and refine your designs. Look for imperfections, try another color, clean up the kerning on that wordmark, look for spelling errors (command + I), and fix unusual curves using the anchor points.
Step 5: Organize
For the final step of your spring cleaning, it is time to organize your designs. This is the key step in your design process, where you make sure you’ve checked off all the requirements for this project and it is finally time to tidy up those design options by making sure there is proper branding and the files are presentable. Once you are done with this step, that is it! Reward yourself with a sweet treat or maybe another “cleaning” project.