Note: This entire article is tool agnostic. That is, it doesn’t matter if you use Sketch, Figma, Adobe XD, Inkscape, or Microsoft Paint, these tips will help you.
Starting any profession is a lot like going to a buffet for the very first time, where a myriad of choices are available.
Hot food. Cold food. Salad. Desserts. A fresh tray of bacon. Is that soup?! Big plates. Small plates. Adorable little ramekins. Oh my, soft serve ice cream!
Things can feel pretty overwhelming, and you are almost certain to make bad decisions the first time around. What should you eat? How much? Can this buffet sushi be trusted?
The secret to buffets is learning something new each go around, so your approach improves over time. Over time you learn what to get, what not to get, and how much mac and cheese your body can handle in a single sitting.
Learning design can feel exactly the same way. The first time around you take on way more than you can handle, make poor decisions, and waste time focusing on the wrong things.
Allow me to offer some guidance with a cheat sheet of everything I’ve learned from countless trips to the design buffet that have made me a better, more efficient designer:
1. Start using a grid
Spacing is arguably one of the most important and fundamental skills in all of design. When I discovered you could drag guide lines from the rulers in Adobe Illustrator to align layers, I wept like a child who had just gotten a new puppy.
Spacing is hard. Consistent spacing is even harder.
A grid not only helps you align objects, but also reduces the amount of mental gymnastics you’ll need to do when arranging hundreds of layers.