51 New Year resolutions for graphic and web designers

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The traditional New Year Resolution: some dread it and some embrace it. Of course, it’s not always easy to sit down and decide what we hope to accomplish over the next year. Below you will find a few ideas that I hope will be helpful in making you a more successful graphic or web designer next year and for the rest of your career. If you have more suggestions please add to the list.

  1. Graphic Designers, Code your first web site
  2. Web designers, Design your first set of business cards, a logo, or a poster
  3. Design and Code your first wordpress theme
  4. Learn the basics of Photoshop and Illustrator
  5. Learn the principles of usability in any design setting.
  6. Get a twitter account if you don’t have one. (If you have one, you can follow me too. I know–shameless plug.)
  7. Try out some sort of new online social media.
  8. If you freelance, raise your rates.
  9. Find new and better ways to connect with clients (Google Voice, Google Wave, etc.)
  10. Study Typography more in depth and apply it in your designs
  11. Try a color scheme you have never even imagined
  12. If you are a freelancer, try an office job. If you are in the office, try freelancing.
  13. Get all the info you need from your client by asking the right questions
  14. Start a blog or write for other blogs
  15. Get involved in the online community
  16. Learn the basics of XHTML and CSS (web designers: learn something new–perhaps CSS3 or HTML5)
  17. Take up a new hobby that doesn’t involve design in any way
  18. Exercise the left side of your brain more (give the right side of your brain a rest)
  19. Learn the basics of copywriting
  20. Update your portfolio to meet industry standards
  21. If you don’t have an online portfolio, get one. If you don’t have a print portfolio, get one.
  22. Update your resume
  23. Do some volunteer design work
  24. Use at least one project to defy all the rules you have ever learned
  25. Break the mold of design (especially on the web)
  26. Take an extra class about design at a local university, college, or community school
  27. Teach a community class on design
  28. Give speeches at your local Chamber of Commerce (US) or other business organization in order to find clients and establish a reputation
  29. Learn more about some designers who created things before computers were popular
  30. Subscribe to top design blogs and frequently read from their feeds
  31. Follow top designers on twitter and interact with them
  32. Save for that dream computer you’ve always wanted
  33. Have the guts to buy it (see #32)
  34. Take on odd jobs that sound impossible or above your level of expertise. Then force yourself to be good enough
  35. Start your design process with good sketches and brainstorming
  36. Learn how to market yourself or your client via social media
  37. In your next meeting with a client, be a little more professional
  38. Really impress your clients–current and new
  39. Have confidence in your work. Show that confidence by bringing a contract to the first meeting
  40. Help someone rebuild or fortify their branding
  41. Redesign something just for fun
  42. Learn the basics of advertising and marketing
  43. Take time to be inspired
  44. Simplify your life and Simplify your design.
  45. Avoid these logo design mistakes
  46. Be a little more patient with your most annoying clients
  47. Embrace Failure. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes or admit your don’t know something
  48. Clean your desktop off. No, Really.
  49. Go against the grain. Don’t follow design trends
  50. Sell something besides your services. Code a wp theme, write a book, etc.
  51. Organize your time and be more efficient

What else would you add to the list of new year’s resolutions for graphic and web designers?

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About Preston D Lee

Preston is a web designer, entrepreneur, and the founder of this blog. @prestondlee

  • http://skillz-community.net/blog Shurandy Thode

    Nice round-up! I would like to add:

    Do something with design everyday! Wether it’s (designing, reading or getting some inspiration somehow) =)

  • http://www.deepubalan.com Deepu Balan

    Very well written… Thanks.


  • http://theshapeslab.com lush

    I think one of the most important is: Exercise!
    Our body needs to move a little bit after being hours in front of the computer, don’t you think?

  • emma

    Very valuable specially as for a student/aspiring art director like myself.
    Much appreciate!

  • http://www.rivermarketart.com SD Designs

    #52 Clean out drawers full of random design notes that no longer make sense

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  • Giovanni

    Haha, nice list. Though I must say I only fit to 18 of them :O Though great list!

  • http://www.simpleedesignsite.com Jasmyn

    Almost one thing a week…ok, I can do this! Thanks for the post!

  • Chris

    #52: Proof read your blog posts.

    (Sorry, couldn’t help myself)

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  • http://www.neo-scribe.com Sheryll

    “I think one of the most important is: Exercise!
    Our body needs to move a little bit after being hours in front of the computer, don’t you think?”

    Totally agree…my fiance calls me sedentary because all I do it sit in front of the computer screen all day. He is a certified personal trainer so I think this will make him very happy!

    • http://www.graphicdesignblender.com Preston

      Shurandy,lush, SD Designs, Sheryll,
      Thanks for your great additions and suggestions. Definitely some great ones there!

      Are you referring to the article here? I’ll gladly make a change if you can point out the error. I can’t seem to find it.

      Thanks to all of you for sharing!

  • http://hakim-haliru.blogspot.com Abdulhakim Haliru

    Nice resolutions but i would like to add “try and add a little knowledge of Mobile Design or development. at least the iPhone”…lol

  • http://danielthai.com/blog Daniel

    Thanks for the great list. It’s really helpful for a beginning designer like me.

  • http://MexiChriS.com MexiChriS

    I think I’m gonna attempt to do as many as I can from this list! I wonder if there’s a Resolution app for the iPhone!? Cause you can never set your self to low & let go of what you had your eye on. Its always best to set ’em high & then look back on how where you 1st started & how much you’ve achieved along the way!

    My new years resolution is basically to set myself firm as graphic designer & web developer, hoping to make decent small or big income on what I love, yet continue to grow & learn along the way.

    Great post, it’s very inspirational, thank you! :)

    – MexiChriS

  • http://MexiChriS.com MexiChriS

    Also, you should probably seek out links related to the listed resolutions you got. For an extra boost & motivation to start off the right way, for those seeking to do this or find other inspirations along the way. Just saying :)

    – MexiChriS

  • Henri

    Hi Preston,

    Very useful list! Should be set nicely as a wallpaper on the desktop. By the way, how do you call these two interesting plugins you have on the left side of your site : “follow me” and “subscribe me”. Thx for the information!

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  • http://drawne.com Andy Feliciotti

    Awesome list, some points are a far out there, but overall great stuff!

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  • http://www.serradinho.com George Serradinho

    Thanks for this huge list, will try and do a few for next year. There are some really good ideas.

  • http://thefreecreatives.com Crystal

    Fantastic roundup. Many are things I’ve wanted to achieve for quite some time, or if I have done them, I certainly need more practice. I think I’ll go make my own set of New Year’s Resolutions, with a few of these for inspiration :)

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  • http://www.vgreano.com Victor G.

    Just got started with blogging, in fact it took me a while to get my Tumblr to work properly…I would recommend Tumblr over WordPress for those who want to control their own domain names.

    Tell me…how many have you done on this *concise* list?!

  • http://debiprasad.net/ Debiprasad

    51 – that means you can achieve one per week!

    Anyways, good list :)

  • http://dkanderson.com Duane

    I needed to read this thanks a lot for this great insight I think I will print this out.

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  • http://www.empfehlenswert-wien.at wien

    nice post, thanks

  • http://beta.skillbasket.com Ben

    Sign up to Skillbasket and list your skills and specialities, then refer friends and jobs. Shameless plug, but also terribly relevant. :)

  • http://www.fionarobertsongraphics.co.uk Fiona

    Great list, thanks. I’ll definitely be trying #3 and #7.

  • Arthur

    Open your mind for new ideas, renew your concepts, break up your paradigms…

  • http://www.serradinho.com George Serradinho

    Wow, this is sure one long list. I can’t say that I would complete half of them, but it sure would be nice to give it a go :)

    For 2010, I would like to create my first Thesis theme skin. I would like to push myself in that direction as I’m already haveing fun with Thesis.

  • http://www.ivorytree.com Jody Atkins

    I’ll leave it to you to summarise but my point, as a client it is important for the designer to Make sure that your client fully understands the whole process of what you are doing and why. Most frustrations on both sides come from both thinking you are delivering different things or not understanding why the other party is not understanding your requests, or your idea, be it the business ethos, or the logic behind the design created!


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  • http://www.coroflot.com/smnthsnyder Samantha Snyder

    Join AIGA.

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  • http://www.studioweber.com Alex Flueras

    That pretty much covers it… great list, thanks for sharing.

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  • TheAL

    19 and 22 are on my personal list.

    I’d say all of these are very easy except #3. Get your hands on a WordPress theme like inFocus or something even meatier. Unless you just make a slap-on look for WordPress, making a whole theme is very intense and code-heavy. You’re basically making a visual template and an extension to the backend CMS UI. Not really something you can pick up unless you’re already a programmer. If you’re an artist who knows some HTML/CSS, you might wanna substitute this resolution with “learn how to program.” Then do this one next year. 😉

    Good list!

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  • http://www.nissiinfotech.com Web Design

    Well written, Open your mind for new ideas and renew your concepts.

  • http://yuliantip06.student.ipb.ac.id yulianti

    wordpress themes?? how??

  • http://www.harikayorumlar.com yorumlar

    thank you:))

  • raowao

    Great list! I was wondering about:
    #19 Learn the basics of copywriting.

    Anyone know any links or starting points for this one? I’m most interested in this but just don’t know where to begin! ( : thx..!

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