Time saving design tips + tricks for your online business.
If design + branding is not your thing, you might feel like it's sucking all the time out of your online business.
It’s so frustrating to waste hours messing around with colors and fonts every time you need to create new graphics or documents for your business. Especially when you know it’s taking away from the time you could spend working on your product or with your clients.
I want to help save you some time + steal some of those hours back. So in this article, I’m sharing a couple of my essential time-saving files and process tips that will make designing for your business less painful.
1. Time-saving logo files to have on hand in your online business.
As a general rule, there are a few different types of logo files that every business should have saved somewhere - that's a conversation for another day. In terms of time-saving tricks, my favorite one is a .png library.
You don't want to have to open your original logo file each time you need to export a new size or color. Instead, have a folder with your logo saved as a .png file in a few different sizes, and in all of the colors in your brand palette.
This way, when you need a version of your logo for your website, or your Instagram, or a PDF you’re putting together, you’ll have it ready in the right color and all you’ve got to do is drop it in.
I provide all of my clients with a small (400px wide), medium (800px wide) and large (1500px wide) .png file of their logo in each color and that will cover them for most digital uses.
Why use .png files?
A .png file is my go-to for digital logo usage for a couple of reasons:
.png files can be saved with transparent backgrounds, so you’ll never have to worry about the background color of your logo and the background color of your graphic or document not matching. You’ll be spared the dreaded white box around your logo on a colored background.
.png files, for a whole bunch of technical reasons, retain quality better than .jpeg files, They're also better suited to line-based graphics or text than a .jpeg, which makes them perfect for digital logo files.
Take advantage of Brand Libraries.
If you want to take time-saving and ease of access to a whole other level, save your most commonly used logo files to your Adobe CC Library or your Canva Brand Kit. You’ll be able to drag and drop them right into your design without even leaving the app you’re using.
2. Time-saving color palette tricks for your online business.
If there’s one thing you’ll likely access more often than anything else, it’s your color palette. I reach for my color swatches all the time, so to save me digging for them, I keep them in a few place
I save swatches in my Adobe CC Library and my Canva Brand Kit. Because they’re pre-loaded in, all I have to do is select my object, and then the corresponding color in my library or kit to make it that color.
I keep a list of HEX codes (the #123456 number associated with your color) handy in a quick reference project in Asana. I keep them in Asana because it's the planning software I use, and I’m likely to have it open anyway. If you use something different, keep yours there. You can even keep them on a sticky note on your desktop.
Lastly - and importantly if you’re a Mac user - I keep a little screenshot of my color palette on my desktop. I use this for KeyNote or Pages documents, where the quickest way to enter your color palette is to use the eyedropper tool.
When I create a new document, I’ll drop in the screenshot, eye-dropper my colors, save them in the bottom panel, and then delete the screenshot from my document. They don’t always stay saved in the panel there across different files and programs, so having that screenshot handy means I can re-enter them quickly.
3. Font guidelines for consistency + efficiency in your online business.
Most people know which fonts are their ‘brand fonts’, but a lot of people don’t have any real guidelines or specific rules for where to use each font and what settings go along with it.
If you’re having to choose which font to use where and in what style every time you create a new web page, document, or email, you’re wasting a ton of time making those decisions.
When people hear ‘specific guidelines’ about fonts, they tend to think they need to have some kind of crazy complicated setup, but that’s totally not true. All you need is a simple document, like this one I created for a client:
It keeps a record of what font should be used for different kinds of text, and whether it should be bold, all caps, have letter spacing, etc.
I provide a document like that to all of my clients, and it helps them to see their font settings and colors at a glance and how each branded element will interact. Regularly referencing this document while designing for your business will not only save you time but also help you keep things consistent.
Once you’ve got the rules down you can add them directly into your Adobe CC Library or Canva Brand Kit for super fast + easy access.
4. Time saving templates for your online business.
If you regularly create digital graphics for your blog, social media, ads, your podcast, or even as a part of your paid product or service, you’re wasting a ton of time if you don’t have a saved template of that design somewhere.
A template is a base version of your design that saves all of the colors, layouts, type formatting, and other visual elements into a document. Whenever you need a new graphic, you can simply open up the template and input the relevant content without having to create anything from scratch. You can create yours in whatever program or app you use for design.
Here’s an example of the template I use (mine’s a Photoshop file) for all of my blog post images, alongside the ‘finished’ version:
If you have to re-create a design every time you make something, you’re wasting precious hours. A template will allow you to create new graphics in minutes and will save you serious time with longer documents. Plus, you can use the same template over and over again forever.
And as an added bonus, templates will also ensure that your graphics all feel consistent and clean.
Bonus Tip: Have a saved stock photo library to save you time in your online business.
If you’re looking to use Photography in your business, it’s incredibly useful to have a saved collection or library of images. It takes a little bit of time every now and then to build it and keep it updated, but it’ll save you hours of searching for individual images as you need them.
It also ensures that all of the images you use actually work together, so you don’t have to waste time wondering if the image you’ve just found even works with the rest of your branding.
I’ve written an entire post about building your own stock photo library, so click here to read that + build your own.
If branding + design is not your thing, don’t spend more time doing it for your online business than you need to.
It'll only cause you frustration and can even make you resentful of the work you're doing. We don't need that kind of negativity, so I hope this article has helped you identify some of the areas you might be able to cut down your time and energy input.
Of course, the ultimate time-saving alternative is having someone else create all of these files + templates for you, and that’s exactly what I’ve done with my Brand Kits.
They're a comprehensive set of completely customizable templates and assets (including everything we talked about in this article!) to help you get your brand identity done, so you can focus on your customers and clients.
Brand Kits will be available for pre-sale at a 50% discount on July 8th, 2019, so be sure to register as a VIP to ensure you can take advantage!
If you've got any questions about any of the files or templates we discussed today or about branding / design in general, drop them in the comments below and I'll do my best to help you out.
See you in the next one!