Archive for April, 2009

Working Remote

For about a year now, I’ve been working from my house — working on stuff for entp and the occasional contract here and there. Overall, I think it’s been an immensely positive move.

The good things

Let’s start off with what’s been working out great. First off: I get to focus when I want. Previously, I was one of those “9 to 5″ workers, meaning I got into work at 8:30am and left around 6:30pm or later. My problem is that my greatest focus time is generally around 7-9pm and 11-2am. The time I was at home. So now I get to work when I want, which means I get far more done in less time.

This whole focus thing can’t be exaggerated enough. I do not function in the mornings. Sure, I can force myself to wake up, get dressed, get to work, pound some coffee, but I just don’t get the work done I do later on in the day. Don’t give me the “you’ll get used to it” speech, because I did this 8-6 thing for 5 straight years. My body just doesn’t function in the mornings.

The second best part of working from home is controlling my nutrition. When I worked at an office, my diet was pretty horrid. I was constantly grabbing quick food from various places, for lunch, for dinner, for a breakfast snack. But now I get to wake up, make some coffee and enjoy a bowl of fruit or oatmeal as I catch up on the day. It’s also a lot easier to make several smaller meals throughout the day. I’ve also been able to exercise a lot more — I don’t have to wait until getting off work, or worry about bringing my gym bag, etc — I just go for a run when I have some spare time.

Lastly, I tend to waste a lot less time when I set down to work. I spend much less time in meetings (meetings used to consume an ungodly amount of my time at an office). I can close myself off in my room, put on some headphones and just get things done. Nobody to come by my desk and annoy me, or useless meetings to attend. Less talking, more doing.

The not so good things

My biggest problem right now is separation of work from home life. My desk sits opposite my bed right now, which means my computer’s always there in my bedroom. My next place I’d like to try and get a loft or something where there’s a really clear separation between sleeping space and working space. (Let me know if you know of an awesome loft opening up in San Francisco around July)

The second problem for me has been not working human hours. I have a few friends downtown who try and get me to go have beers with them at 5 when they get off. Unfortunately by then sometimes I’ve only clocked in a couple of hours for work — so I have to stay home and work through. This is of course directly in battle with my productive times, so it’s hard to find a clear winner here.

The future, perhaps?

Back in the late nineties, it seemed as though everyone thought telecommuting was going to be the future. I wonder if maybe we’re swinging back towards that now. Traffic of course only gets worse — while people’s homes are getting larger and further from city centers. About half of entp works from remote (from Tennessee to Uruguay) right now and we seem to get things done alright.

There’s no denying having an office is awesome, but I have a feeling it’s going to move from the “necessity” column over to the “nice to have” column in the next decade or two. Especially for professions like design & programming which take a certain amount of closed-off concentration to get things done. The problem is that people in our profession work well in small groups — and much worse in large groups. A small group breeds healthy debate and conversation, while a large group breeds endless arguments and criticism.

In any case, I wish more companies would try out having less strict hours for working in offices. It’s crystal clear to me that forcing people to work 9-5 only breeds a culture where your effort is measured in hours spent, and not work produced. It’s easy for someone to put in 8 hours of programming and get less done than another person who puts in 1 hour of work. It all has to do with breeding work conditions that work towards their advantage.

Exclusive look at the New Outlaw Design Blog Re-Design

Danny Outlaw has given us an advanced preview of his re-designed Outlaw Design Blog. And I’ve got to say it looks fantastic, Danny talks us through the process & reasons behind it, and what we can expect from the new design, and in fact the new Blog, as his re-vamp goes further than just a fresh new look.

What I love About the New Design

Before we get Danny’s thoughts about the design and the inspiration behind it, I thought I’d talk you through some of the things that make this design stand out for me.

The Subtle Touches

Yeah a word I love to use, but this is a prime example of how subtle elements & details help build a feel of quality. Everything from the background illustrations, the bullet holes and the 1pixel highlights around boxes to the small little green bar on the hover state in the top navigation. It seems everything has been thought of.

Footer Area

A smashing example of a very useful and simple footer. We’ve got special attention to a new feature of the site, the podcast, as well as some relevant links & information, topped off with a very hand & easy to see search bar.

Overall solid feel

With everything in mind, and looking at the full design – it has a very solid and easy to use feel about it, something that not all blogs have. What I mean by this, is it’s a site that just feels right, and I can imagine feeling comfortable spending any amount of time on it. I’m Looking forward to seeing it go live (which I believe is on the 20th April)

The Preview

Click the image to see a full size preview of the design.

What inspired such a huge relaunch?

To put it simply, I always a bit unhappy with past versions of Outlaw Design Blog.  While the designs them self weren’t bad,  I just didnt feel they helped me contribute to the community as much as I wanted to.

I started Outlaw Design Blog because I wanted to share my skills, opinions, and thoughts on the business of design.  While a traditional blog helps do this, it is only one of the many tools out there for sharing such things.  Now that the web and its users are more accustom to finding information in a variety of formats, I decided it was time to raise the standards and start offering information in a variety of multimedia formats.

It is really this interest in multimedia sharing that really sparked the fire for the re-launch.

When Outlaw Design Blog was just a thought, the idea was to create a “super blog” that was a combination of Freelance Switch, PSD tuts, and Smashing Magazine.  I never really came close to create such a blog in the past, but this relaunch should change all that.

Rob Palmer who did all of the illustration and the better part of the design also inspired me a lot.  I love his site and work.  I have worked with him in the past and he is just amazing!  He went all out on this design for me and he deserves many thanks for that.

What cool features can we expect to see in the re-launch?

One feature that will play a large part of the new Outlaw Design Blog is one that I have already started playing with a bit and that is video.  I am planning on making video a part of as many posts as possible in the future.  Everyone learns in their own way; some people learn better by reading, other by hearing or seeing.  For this reason, I want to add video, text, and possibly audio for every post that can handle it.  After the relaunch, and as my video editing skills improve, the videos should become a little more professional looking and less like home videos.

Aside from regular videos for posts, I am working on doing a semi-regular video with David Leggett from Tutorial9 which should be awesome.

Another feature that I am really excited about is the Outlaw Design Podcast.  I am working with Andrew Lindstrom from the Well Medicated Blog to create a podcast with a few other panel members including David from Tutorial9.  The podcast will be monthly and cover a variety of topics the freelance creative should appreciate.

I have also been building up a collection of high quality stuff to give away.  You can expect to see everything from hi-res textures to premium WordPress themes.

I have been working on building up a collection of Photoshop Tutorials.  So you can expect to see anywhere from 2 to 4 Photoshop tutorials a month.

I am also working one finding some developers to work with to create some top notch web tutorials for designers.

This new design also has an entire section dedicated to review of products and software that creatives are interested in.  On these types of posts, readers will be able to read my review, write thier own, and read others review of the product.  There will also be a link to purchase the product, as well as compare prices on it.

Additional Screenshots

What Do You Think?

Does it look promising to you, does it sound like Danny has made a change for the better? Did you prefer it before? Whatever your thoughts we’d love to hear them. I personally am really looking forward to it, from the design side of things I can’t wait to see the site live, and from the content side of things Danny has put a lot of effort into improving what he has to offer his visitors, so I’m also excited about seeing and reading that!

How to Spot Quality within Web Design: Examples & Tips

Quality is a word that a lot of people like to use when describing their web design services. But what is quality, how do you know if a design is quality or not. Well, I think that there’s quite a few ways to spot quality within web designs. Once you can see just what goes into making a quality web design, you can use the techniques to perfect your own style.

I’ve put together a few pointers, and collected some examples to explain just how I look for quality within a website design.

01. Spacing

One of the main things that I look for within a good website design is clever use of spacing with design elements. Paying close attention to how certain things are spaced out and lined up can really make a difference to the overall appearance and sense of quality of your design.

I think the key to getting your spacing right is to look at all of the elements within your design. Looking at the bigger picture really can help you get a good idea of how best to space your elements. Sometimes zooming out and taking a different look at your designs can be a great help.

Examples of Excellent Spacing

Great Spacing on the Website

As you can see here, there is a very clean and open feel to the content here. This is completely down to the designer allowing a good amount of space around the text & images.


A very well spaced out Digital Mash Website

Having well spaced out elements can make them a lot more attractive, and a lot more clickable. Digital Mash is a great example of a very welcoming website.

Creatica Daily has heaps of space

Again the great use of spacing here really helps let the content speak for itself. There isn’t a lot of content in each post, but they’ve not been afraid to give the content a lot of space. Just because you only have a few lines of text, doesn’t mean it can’t use a lot of space.

Lots of Space on the Postbox Site

Taking a close look at the Postbox website, you can really see how space there is around the edges. There’s actually a 60px padding here. It sounds like quite a lot, but when you see it in action it looks great.

Getting Spacing Wrong

The main mistake people make when it comes to spacing is having their content too close to the edges. No matter how well you’ve styled your content, if you cram too much in, it loses a lot of it’s style and quality.

Example of not using enough spacing

We showed in the previous section how good the spacing was on the PostBox website, but we’ve made the  mock-up below to show how it would look with less spacing. And you can see just how much bad spacing can effect your design. It takes a lot away from the design and certainly removes the quality feel from it.

Tips on Effective Spacing

Deciding on how much spacing to use is something which will vary from time to time, you really need to train your eye to allow for the correct amount of spacing for each element, and use it effectively to fit the design. It’s touch but something you can pick up with practice.

• Design using a grid system
Using a grid certainly helps you to understand the importance of spacing

• Try & Try again
You can always use a method of trial and error until you find what looks right.

• White Space isn’t a wasted space
Just because you have an empty area, it doesn’t mean you have to fill it.

• Less really is More
Rather than trying to fit more in an area, fit less, give it space and keep just the vital important information.

02. Pixel Perfect Detail

You can really tell when someone has put real effort into the finish of a web design. Sometimes it’s the subtle things that really make a difference, and a lot of people might not even notice. What I mean when I talk about Pixel Perfect Detail is the method of paying close attention to lines, edges and borders. Rather than just have a simple line, sometimes adding some small details, whether it be subtle gradients, or something as a simple 1px shadow or highlight can really make your work stand out. Some designers of note that are really good at this are: Collis Ta’eed,  David Leggett and Wolfgang Bartelme.

Examples of Pixel Perfect Details

A close look at the detail on Envato

If you look in the examples I’ve cut out, you can see in Example 1, how the green bar has a 1 pixel lighter green line on the border. Example 2 uses a soft gradient shadow on the inside of the box and leaves a 1px clear white border at the top. Clever, using a shadow to give the impression of a highlight above it. The green area behind has a very soft subtle shadow which helps draw attention to the clean and crisp detail within the white box below. Although it doesn’t seem like much these thing really do help to make everything look that little bit more polished, they give a sense of 3D and realism, almost like the elements are placed onto the page, rather than just a flat and static layout.

The Details on

David Leggett has a great understanding of how to really make pixel’s pop. His recent redesign of tutorial9 is a great mix of so many pixel popping techniques. In Example 1 you can see how he’s made the tabs look that little bit slicker by adding a simple 1px highlight to the top. Example 2 see’s a variety of techniques. A Drop shadow on the camera icon, a shadow highlight on the white area, and a 1px highlight on the top of the navigation bar.

Pixel Perfect Buttons & Separators on RedBrick Health

This beautiful navigation, created by Ryan Scherf is another great example of using pixel perfect details to get that feel of quality in your design. The pink button has a 1px highlight, and the separating lines between the links have the same level of quality and detail, as you can see rather than just having a gray line separation, Ryan has included a 1 pixel highlight below it to prevent it looking flat and 2 dimensional.

Pixel Perfection Applies to Grunge too: AvalonStar

Here we have the beautiful AvalonStar: Distortion blog, which uses a great grunge style. But even with a dirty & grungy design using a 1px highlight can still make a big difference. If you look at Example 1 you can see how a shadow gradient has been used on the brown top area, the green box which lies below it has a 1px highlight at the top. The combination of the shadow above and the 1 pixel highlight really make the boxes look that little bit more polished.

Quick tips for Perfect Details

Practice makes perfect in this case, as you can see from the examples something as simple as a 1px highlight line can add some really cool depth to your designs, you don’t need to rely on really over the top bevels and gradients to give the impression of something with a bit of depth.

• Keep it Subtle
Small details that compliment the content are the key.

• Think in Pixels
Borders, gradients, lines and shadows etc don’t have to be huge to be effective.

• Before & After
Compare your results to how they looked before you applied the effects. Then you can see just how effective they are.

03. Well thought out Typography

Although the actual content of the website won’t be written by the designer, they play just as important role in the overall quality of the content. Their role is to make sure that the content is displayed in a way that is easy to follow and read through. There are many ways that you can ensure your type is readable and usable, and while I’m not going to list a set of rules and regulations on what, and what not to do, I will give you some examples of where clever typography really does make a difference.

Examples of Well Thought out Typography

Big & Beautiful on The Netsetter

Titles are important within web design, especially when you are designing for a blog. A recent trend in web design is to use big & bold fonts for titles. This works in a number of positive ways, not only does it tick all the right boxes from a usability point of view, but it helps to create space and define structure within a design. This example from Netsetter is a great illustration of these points, you can see how the title creates a lot of white space around it, and naturally it’s very easy to read.

Leading & Spacing with your Text

The Viget website really is a beautiful example of how important typography is within web design. The example we see below (taken from their portfolio showcase) shows once again how using a larger sized font helps to create and open space. Even with the thin, crisp font they have used you can see just how much space has been created in that area. The actual typeface itself is very slick, and is a great choice of font. The other thing that stands out here is their attention to detail with the line height (Leading), the spacing between each line of text has been increased from the default value to create a lot more space and make the text much more readable. A trick which you could try in your next design.

Web Design Ledger, Fonts to Fit your Mood

Finding the perfect font can be done through trial and error, or you can make your choices based upon the different moods certain fonts help bring to a design. The example here, Web Design Ledger, has a retro and worn look to it, while still having a very open and modern feel to it, so choosing fonts that help evoke a similar moods to these is essential to it’s success. Henry Jones (the designer) has chosen a popular transitional serif typeface: Georgia for the titles which compliment the retro & worn aspects of the design very well. The modern feel to the website comes from using a very different font to the titles, the main content body is written in Helvetica, a sans-serif typeface with a very rounded, open feel to it. The two choices of typeface in this example are very clever and really help to compliment and set the mood of the design.

Quick check list for Typography in Web Design

Spotting good typography within web design becomes a little easier when you’ve seen some great examples of typography (above) But when exactly is it that makes these examples so good, and what should you be looking out for when you come to design your next website?

• Is it Readable?
Don’t be scared of making your titles big and bold.

• Have you thought about spacing?
Spacing can vastly improve readability.

• Do your fonts fit the mood?
Make sure your fonts compliment the design.

There are probably a thousand more tips out there, but I don’t consider myself an expert in this area, I think I’ve just learnt to appreciate the impact of good typography. If you want to learn more about the things to look out for and see some better examples i strongly suggest you check out this post from Smashing Magazine.

04. Organization of Elements

Being a designer appeals to many because of it’s creative nature, and sure it can be a lot of fun. Now I know that Organizing doesn’t sound at all creative or fun, but once you get into a habit of good organization it doesn’t have to be as dull as it sounds. The way you organize the elements in a website is always going to be different, it depends on what type of site it is, and how important certain features are to the content of that website.

Although there’s always a variation in how and where you place things, there are some things you can do to make organizing your content very easy. The first thing you need to do is decide what you want your design to achieve. For example, are you designing to sell a product, are you designing for content, or are you designing for signups & referrals etc.

Designing to Sell: 37Signals

Taking a look at the massively popular 37 signals website it’s easy to see that it’s no coincidence they are selling their products so well. They’ve made it as easy as possible for you to see what’s for sale and help you to make the final decision to buy. Everything you want from a site designed to sell.

In the Example image you can see that the site has 4 key features that make it ideal to encourage you to buy. Attention is the first thing, they’ve made a very dark box with a quick summary & big bold titles. Next they generate your Interest by listing some benefits of each product with a lovely illustration. Desire is the next point, and this is archived by placing quotes & testimonials, and as in this point some videos of “What our Customers have to say.” The final feature to keep in mind is Action; on 37Signals there are various action points throughout the page, also nice to see that as the page is quite long they even have some action points in the footer.

Designing for Content (Blog): Well Medicated

When you’re designing for a blog it’s a completely different story. You don’t need to spend time convincing and re-assuring your users about your product, your “product” is already on display, your content is your product. Make it easy for your users to see your posts, explore them and connect with you & your blog.

Content should be (one of) the first thing(s) you see on a blog. In this example a nice bold pink title font really draws your eyes straight to the content. There’s a good sized preview image and a good 2/3 paragraphs of text followed by a “Continue Reading” link. There’s also the standard date & author information. For me this is one of the most perfect examples of what I would class as quality “Content Design.” Attention can be directed to anything of interest, here the nice big subscribe icons are the focus and help the users to stay connected with your content. Plus it without doubt will increase the amount of subscribers, so it works on two levels. Encouraging your users to Explore is quite simple, you can use anything from tabbed recent or popular content in the sidebar, to drop down menu’s or simple & effective lists. It’s easy to do, but very effective, especially on a blog. Blogs tend to be very personal things, so allowing your visitors to Connect with you in a variety of ways can be a big plus, and can help encourage people to get to know you, and visit

Tips to Help with Organizing your content.

Of course there’s always times where you’ll need to do things differently and break the norm. But there are some simple tips you can follow to keeping a well structured and well ordered design.

• What are you designing for?
As we’ve shown above, decide the goal of your design

• Design using a Grid
Grids allow you to make the most of your space.

• Test the Placement of Elements
Be the visitor, would you be able to use it.

• Remove any unnecessary Elements
Anything that isn’t essential should be removed, or out of the way

• Balance of Attention
Some things need to stay simple to allow others to shine

05. Restraint & Subtlety

Designers are always looking for ways to make an impact with a unique design or special effect within a design. But sometimes you can make a bigger impact by restraining yourself. There comes a point where something crosses from being good to being too much. A good designer can spot when the line has been crossed, and avoid putting too much into a design or special effect.

Examples of Subtle Effects within Web Design

Soft Gradients on “Things” Website

I’m always on the look out for subtle effects on all the websites I visit. Sort of sad maybe, but I can’t help but pick out all the little details for future inspiration. Gradients are often over used and really in your face, but used correctly gradients can add a element of reality and depth to a design. Most people might not even spot the gradients, and those for me are the best ones.

Drop Shadows on Icon Dock

Icon Dock is a smorgasbord of subtlety. Pixel highlights, gradients and drop shadows. But for the sake of this example we will focus on the drop shadow, it’s not very big, and it’s opacity has been reduced to just put the highlight on the content box and bring it forward very slightly. It’s a beautiful example.

Quality in Web Design - Subtlety, Soft Gradients: Icon Dock

Subtle Background Textures; Scouting for Girls

Having a textured background can make or break your design. A lot of times the background becomes too much of a distraction that it actually takes away from the quality of the design. So it’s often a good idea to keep your background textures subtle and soft. The Scouting for Girls website does a great job of using a texture to compliment the overall style & quality of the design.

A hint of Wear & Tear: Viget Advance

I don’t think you can ever be too subtle, any amount of detail no matter how subtle will be noticeable, and whether people are aware of it or not it does have an impact. This example from the Viget Advance blog shows some hints of wear & tear, just a very small amount of wear, but without it the paper would look flat and dull. It’s the small imperfections that make it more believable and real.

Watercolours on WebDesignerWall

When using watercolours it’s always nice to make sure you mix the colours and keep the colours very soft, faded, and well… Watery. Using watercolours can benefit your design in many ways, it allows you to inject some subtle colours and bring in some texture, which is why it’s become quite a popular choice for many designers to include.

Subtle Floral Elements; Dara’s Garden

This is a brilliant example of subtle floral detail within a design. There are some more vivid floral illustrations that are also quite stunning, but in this example we are focusing on the lighter & softer details in the background. This really shows the importance of subtlety, the soft colour and worn look to the pattern means that your eye is aware of the detail, but it isn’t the main focus.

Tips for Subtlety in your Design

For me, subtle details in a design can really push a design from being good, to being amazing. If you’re looking for a way to inject something special into your design, subtle details really are the way to go. Here are some tips to keep in mind when including subtle details in your design.

• Build up your layers
Never just use one brush or texture, build your details up.

• Experiment with opacity & Colour
Sometimes even 3% opacity can have a positive impact.

• Don’t worry, Be Brave
Done be afraid to be too subtle, or too faded.

06. Using Colour to it’s Full Potential

People often judge colours on their personal taste, which is a huge mistake. If you’re ever in a situation where you need to decide upon what colours look good in a design your mind should always be on the brand, and building a theme and mood using a colour scheme.

Brilliant uses of Colour In Web Design

Real Estate can be Real Colourful: Oypro

The thing I like about the Oypro website is that it proves that a “boring” subject doesn’t have to have a boring design. All too often corporate sites have a reluctance to allow designers to really put across some creative flair in their designs. There seems to be a need to keep things simple, flat, and gray. But this design proves that you can still have a corporate looking website, without the need to hold back.

Keeping your Colours Relevant: Tennessee Summertime

Summertime in Tennessee is a vibrant, bright and very warm website. Everything you’d want to associate with a site that is promoting summer activities. There are a lot of different colours in play here, but all of them are relevant. Good quality designs have a colour scheme that is relevant to the service or product that they are designing for. Sometimes it’s the obvious colour choices that make for the better design, a good example of my point is Hell Design – it wouldn’t make sense being any colour than a firey red.

Variety in your Backgrounds: Saturized Studio

It’s not enough just to have colour in your background and expect that to make it interesting. Some of the best backgrounds are those that have a bit of variety, in this example we see that the beautiful orange/red colour is subject to all sorts of lighting effects and gradients. It gives an extra something to the background, and prevents it from looking stale and flat. Important to note here too that the contrast between the dark & deep orange works really nice set behind the much lighter content area.

Tips for using colour in design

Colour is always a good area for exploration and trying different possibilities and variations, but it’s always important to keep a few things in mind when choosing colours and a colour scheme.

• Experiment
A boring topic doesn’t have to have a boring colour scheme.

• Variety
Try using gradients, patterns, brushes on your colourful backgrounds. Colour alone doesn’t make something look good.

• Stick to a Theme
Make sure your colours are relevant to your product/service.

07. Doing something Nobody else has done

Some of the best websites around are those that are out of the ordinary, strange and somewhat bizzare. But those that challenge the norm may end up changing what the norm is. But being truly original and creating something nobody else has done before is the toughest thing to do in design.

You could end up making something of amazing brilliance, or you could end up with a design that’s worthy of nothing but criticism. It’s a very thin line between success and failure; I mean there are reasons something’s never been done before, and it’s usually because it’s a shit idea. You’ve got to be brave to step away from what people know and love, and here are a few examples of that point:

Unique Navigation on MB Dragan

Not exactly your average site navigation, but would the website look as good if it just had a standard navigation. I’d say it was a bit of a risk having the navigation in such an unusual way, but it does fit in with the site, it is relevant, and it’s done to such a standard that it’s hard not to appreciate how well it works with the overall design.

Visualbox & their very Visual Navigation

Visualbox have one goal in mind, showing you their brilliant work. So they’ve got very little text, on first look all you see is their Name and a selection of their work. The preview box changes when you hover over it to reveal details of that project, so it’s actually a very effective and functional solution, and much more appealing then just having a list of links.

Straight to the point with Nikola Mircic

So you’re a interface designer, you want people to see your work, and hire you. Nikola Mircic shows us how getting straight to it makes for a really impressive site. You are greeted with a wide variety of his work, his name & what he does at the top, and a contact link. There’s no mass of text or fancy words to convince you to use his services, he literally lets his work talk for itself. Of course you can click on the images to see more & get some text, but the layout if very unique and I love how it works.

Tips for trying something new

The examples above are not meant to be “inspiration” for unique ideas, just simply a couple of sites that I found that I’d deem to be quite unique. The fact is you can’t really search around for inspiration on new ideas, as it kind of spoils the point of it. So really you can just ignore this whole section if you are trying to think up something new!

• Keep it Relevant
If you’re going to do something very new and unique, ask yourself “does it make sense” and “does it fit with the branding?” if so then go do it!

• Ignore everything you know!
Okay maybe not everything, basic principles may stay the same, but there’s no point looking for inspiration on new ideas, you’ll just be heading in the wrong direction.

• Keep a level of quality
I think generally if your new idea looks good, and works well it’s much easier for you to justify.

What Do you look for in a Quality Design?

There are so many things that can make a design stand out as quality, I’d say I’ve just covered a few of the base points. So I’d love to see your ideas and thoughts about what you look for when you decide whether a design is good or not.

Danny Outlaw Talks Personal Branding & Promotion: Tips on How to Get Yourself Out There

Starting out as a designer, or blogger isn’t always easy. The hardest part is promoting yourself & your blog. Danny Outlaw, from Outlaw Design Blog talks us through how he tackled the problem, and gives us some seriously useful and true tips to help you build your own personal brand. Danny is re-launching his blog soon, and talks us through his strategy of building his brand.

Meet Danny Outlaw

I started out doing graphic design and web design several years ago.  While I love doing creative stuff,  I find the business side just as exciting.  Over the years I have started to do more “creative director” type stuff than actual design work.  As a result,  I have really started to focus on creating a variety of sites and businesses to try and help the creative community.

While I can’t share too much about the new Outlaw launch, I can tell you that my main focus of the relaunch was to create a site that helped creatives with both the business and creative aspect of the industry.

Websites that I write and contribute for include:

Web Designer Depot
Smashing Magazine
Freelance Folder
Graphic River
PSD Tuts

Websites that I run include:

WordPress Designers
T-Shirt Mogul
Freelancing Abroad
Linkbait Writing Services
Outlaw Design Blog

There are probably more, but I loose track sometimes!

How did you start out, with Designing & with Blogging

I have been into design and business since I was a kid. Ever since I got on our first family computer with a dot matrix printer, I was hooked. Then in the 5th grade I got a subscription to Entrepreneur Magazine, and I knew I would never work for anyone.

I wanted to start a blog to help position myself as an expert in the industry.  I always felt that the fact that I had a really good handle on the business side of freelancing meant that I had a lot to offer to the community.  People really seemed to like what I was saying when it came to the business of freelancing and the blog just sort of took off.  In the past I didn’t run the blog as best as I could have, but that will change with the relaunch!

Why is this blogging Important to you & What are the Benefits.

Like I said, for me, blogging was about setting myself up as an expert in the industry.  While Outlaw Design Blog helped start that personal branding, working with other major sites really helped sky rocket the “Danny Outlaw” name into the design community.

It’s funny,  I’ll work with people or chat with them online who don’t realize I’m Danny Outlaw.  Then when it comes up that I’m Danny Outlaw, people kind of freak out.  I get a lot of..” oh man,  I didn’t know YOU were Danny Outlaw!  I love your stuff, it really helped me out!”

Are there any down sides to having your time split between so many things & How do you Manage your time & Work?

For starters, I pretty much don’t contribute anywhere that can’t afford to pay me.  I do so much in any given day, that I can’t afford to write these intense articles, videos, and round ups if I’m not getting paid for it.  I’ve lucked out that I have been doing this long enough and well enough that people don’t mind paying my rates.

As far as managing my time goes…  The three things that help me out the most are my iPhone, Basecamp, and working with a close team.  I have a very select and small group of designers, writers, and developers that I work with.  I couldn’t do what I do without them.  Being able to have a small team of people you can count on goes a long way at getting things done.  Make note that I’m not talking about out sourcing, but working with a small group of people who’s work I really admire.

What advice would you give to help others get their name out there?

Creating a personal brand is all about finding a hook.  Start by trying to figure out your own personal angle and then take it to an extreme. My whole Outlaw brand is a prime example. I created a name, site design, and avatar around the Outlaw brand.

I think avatars are an under utilized aspect of branding as well. Using your own picture works OK, but if you use some sort of unique graphic or image that helps reinforce your brand, it will make your name and avatar more memorable.

Branding aside, its all about creating great work. Every site that I write for has contacted me to write for them because of the work they had seen on my site and the other sites I write for.

How important do you see social media services to the success of a designer & blogger?

I talked about this a little bit in a video I recently did for Graphic River.

“If you don’t mind sharing some of your social networking profiles, then add your profile links and invite your clients to connect with you. If both you and your client are active in these networks it can help keep your name fresh in a would be clients mind. For example, if you are the only designer they are following on Twitter or Facebook and you regularly post about design; a would be client will probably think of you the next time they need design work done.”

I think connecting with clients and would be clients via social media is something that every creative should do.  Combine the above mentioned ideas with a creative brand/name/avatar and you could probably increase your workload 10% or more.

Having worked on so many websites who are the most interesting people you have come across?

As you know, I have been a fan of yours since we first started chatting it up in the early days of Outlaw Design Blog.

Recently I met with David Legget from Tutorial9 and UX Booth.  He is a really impressive guy with a great head on his shoulders.  Everything he does and the ideas he comes up with are all about the benefit to the end user.  I really admire that. I constantly find myself bouncing ideas off him to get get his feedback.

I’m also a really big fan of Rob Palmer of who did the majority of the illustration work with the new Outlaw Design

What sites would you recommend to people who want to start guest blogging

Its hard to say.  The few places I approached in the early days to guest blog on had little to no impact.  And all of the ones I write for now contacted me.

One piece of advice I can give is to learn how to write a guest post that is profitable for you and the blog you are writing for.

Find ways to add links back your site in the post without being spamy, use your business as an example in the article, add photos or images you created into the post.

What posts seem to go down the best when you are writing for other blogs

With so many new design blogs popping up, everyone seems to have the “I can do that” mentality.  They fail to come up with creative ideas for articles and instead just do something similar to what they saw on SU or Digg.

Coming up with creative and useful ideas for posts is the best thing you can do. Obviously longer posts/list do better, but a mid length post that is original, creative, and helpful can do way better.

What’s the difference between writing for you own blog, or writing on someone else’s?

The only hard part here comes in having to think up all of the content. When you write for 6+ creative websites, it gets a little hard to come up with unique ideas for all of them. Then the problem of “what do I save for myself” also comes into play. Obviously I want to save some of the good linkbait type articles for myself, so finding that balance can be hard.

Name 5 Dream Blogs or Websites you would love to write for

I don’t really have any. I write for them already!

The one I was really excited to start working with was PSDtuts and then Graphic River.  I am a huge fan of the Envato Network.  I love Collis and Cyan. They are just genuinely nice people and I am super happy to be a part of what they are doing.

Would you say your strategy has worked for you?

I’m pretty happy with how my personal branding strategy has worked at this point.  I’d say a better part of the design community knows or has heard of the Danny Outlaw name, and that’s what I’m going for.

If I would have known that Outlaw Design Blog would have done as much as it has for the brand, I would have put a lot more into it a long time ago.

But this new launch includes a lot of the things I would have done in the past had I known.

Anything big we can look forward to soon?

T-Shirt Mogul

The T-Shirt mogul website will be launching shortly after Outlaw Design Blog is up and running.  It will be an interactive learning environment on how to start and run a profitable t-shirt business.  It will includes things like weekly lessons on helping you setup, market, and brand your t-shirt company.  There will be a members only forum, month teleseminars, and a whole lot more.  One really cool selling point of that site will be all the resources that come with being a member.  For $27 a month, you will not only get business lessons, but every week we will be uploading unique vector graphics, Photoshop brushes, blink t-shirt images, hi res pictures of models in blank shirts and tons more.

These resources alone are well worth the price

Freelancing Abroad

The Freelancing Abroad is another interactive learning site where people can join and learn how to run a profitable freelance business from just about anywhere in the world.  The will be 4 – 6 moths worth of lessons and worksheets that teach you everything you need to know about working and living abroad.  It will also include a members only forum where you can talk directly to me and I will also do regular telesiminars, videocasts, and much more.

I think the creative community is going to be really interested in this site.  So I’m going all out to make sure it will be worth the cost.

Thank You Danny

We’re really excited about the new Outlaw Design Blog, and we will be bringing you an exclusive first look at the new website just before the re-launch. You can subscribe to stay informed. Hopefully you found Danny’s words helpful, it’s always good to get a good honest review of the good and bad, which in turn can give you guys a better idea of what works, and what doesn’t. Please leave a comment and let us know your thoughts.

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