3 easy ways to build a website for free

How to build a website for free or almost free image with and arrow point in the direction
3 Simple Platforms Guide

Hobbyist’s, businesses and potential clients… this post is for you!

This post covers 3 simple ways for you to build a website for free, or almost free. This article is ideal for start-ups, hobbyist’s and individuals looking to start small and work their way up with their online presence. All you need is a computer and access to the internet.

This post will cover the pros and cons of each system based on tried and tested experience.

It should be noted I am not affiliated with these companies

How to get your free website up and running

1 ) Use Blogger

Not heard of Blogger? Blogger (blogspot) has been around for years and is part of Google. With Blogger, you can create your website or blog completely free – today, right now! And yes, it’s pretty easy to use.

Blogger is fine if you are looking to create a simple blog as a hobbyist or put something together quickly for a friend or relative. I have used Blogger as part of my ‘hobby and general stuff’ website which I treated as a creative / personal dumping ground. You can see my personal blog here.

Blogger isn’t solely for amateurs. I have seen great examples of Blogger being used by professional and semi-professionals, despite it being a free platform. Generally speaking, Blogger is used more by hobbyists than professionals.

Due to Blogger’s low point of entry, it is a magnet for homemade, freebie and hobbyist blog creators. Few websites buck this trend with this platform by offering tremendous value and great content.

This website is great example of what can be achieved with some dedication and will power. The website – Print & Pattern – comes with a jobsboard, products and other pieces of information centred around graphic and surface pattern design.

I doff my cap… If I had one!

It might also be worth mentioning that you can also monetise your Blogger very easy using Adsense if you are considering earning some money on the side. You will need a lot of traffic to come to your website before you see anything from Adsense.

Blogger Pros :

– FREE – Blogger is free. You can set up an account today and start writing about your hobby pretty much right away.

– It’s reasonably easy to use – Blogger is relatively straight forward to use. Buttons in the left hand navigation show what is what. All you need to do is Create a “new post” and type away – as easy as that although it is not without flaws.

– Can be polished – with a bit of thought and a lot of application you can make your Blogger look quite professional.

– No fuss – You can set up a Blogger website quickly, you don’t need a coding guru to help.

Blogger Cons :

– Typically regarded as unprofessional – if you are using a Blogger for a business website it can be regarded as being amateurish. Blogger websites tend to have a dated appearance and people can more often than not tell something looks a bit ‘Home made’. In business, making a good impression is important and you want avoid ‘Homemade’. Not all ‘Bloggers’ are created by amateurs but many do use this platform as it is free. If you must use Blogger, dress it well – very well – I would go as far as trying to disguise it otherwise your blog may say : “business run from a shed”. If you don’t expect to make money or use it for business carry on.

Awkward code – know how I said to try and ‘dress it’? Now imagine trying to dress an excited squirrel! Well It certainly won’t put it’s arms into the sleeves and neither will Blogger when it comes to making a pretty post! The code and interface can be very awkward to use if you are trying tweak the alignment, paragraph, bold lettering etc it can reduce you to tears, and crash. It also adds a lot of junk HTML to your article making it needlessly difficult to tailor in code view. Many hours have been wasted trying to make it play fair.

You don’t really own it – Although it is free to use and as a free tool it is pretty good, it’s not your intellectual property. Should your Blogger be closed for some reason you will loose all of your content with it. For ‘free’ you will relinquish control and imagine loosing 5 years worth of posts. Back up your content if you decide use Blogger.

SEO – although it’s not bad, I’m not convinced about it’s friendliness towards being seen by the search engines.

Blogger Verdict :

It’s good for hobbyists, it’s free but there are other options which I would consider over Blogger. Generally, if you want a professional presence I would use better platform.

Rating out of 5 : 1 = Poor 5 = Excellent

Cost = 5
Ease of use = 2
Creation Efficiency = 1
Set Up = 4
Quality Of Websites = 3
Value = 2

Total = 17

———————————————

USE WIX

Wix gets some unjust stick. Developers scoff at it because it is a website builder which can be used my non-coders – listen other Developers, WIX isn’t too bad! And if you are strapped for money and just starting out then maybe consider this as possible option in the beginning. WIX allows you to visually drag and drop your website together to create a design that you may not vomit over! You can even add the odd bit of code here and there to extend to track analytics.

Wix Website logo!

That’s well and good but why use it?

WIX can allow you layout items on a webpage how you want them! Imagine using something like Microsoft publisher, Photoshop or a graphics program to create a website. If your online presence or website is in it’s early stages, you may just need something very simple to chuck online or perhaps you want to get a website live for a friend or a relative. WIX can suit both! And you don’t need to be Developer.

For cheap, (not free) WIX is possible option. Here are my shared experiences of the WIX website builder.

Wix Pros :

Neat – It all comes in one tight little package with many design options.
Design with it – It’s great for non-techies or developers. *You can use the drag and drop interface to create a website the way you want it – a big although

Cheap – WIX comes with a range of pricing plans to suit many budgets, it also comes with it’s own hosting packages.

Cool features – It comes with some nice little integrated features such a mail-list manager and an easy to use image library, you can also create a basic shop with it.

Visual Designer – It’s great if you like to create websites visually, but please note – not for creating graphic design and banners. These elements will should to be created by a Designer or somebody with access to design tools.

*Although – Websites are not ‘as is’ static items anymore, you can’t treat them as you would a drawing or a piece print. It’s best to regard website as a piece or informational water when it comes to the layout. This information fluid or titles, boxes and elements which should move to fill the screen size. The launch of the smartphone essentially has pushed your static website design to near extinction.

Wix Cons :

The responsive design is sub-par – arguably worse than Blogger. As a non-dev you may be wowed initially by how easy it is to use, but what you see, isn’t what you get. Inside WIX there is a button in the navigation menu which allows you to set up a mobile version of the website… (Yes, you have to construct 2 versions of your website) the mobile version isn’t as standard so you have to create 2 static versions of your website. It isn’t very good at handling ‘fluid’ layouts when I last used it.

Build twice, takes twice as long – Further to the point, you have to build twice or suffer a website that will not work properly on a smartphone. Eg can’t read text without zooming with fingers etc. This bad user-experience will be passed onto your customers.

Clumsy fluid layout – As a designer this would be something I would pick up on. The default desktop website can have some somewhat awkward behaviour when it comes to viewing the website in different browsers. Fluid and responsive websites are not easy to build, and WIX certainly hasn’t mastered this yet.

Slow Down – If you have a large webpage with lots of elements and content this can overwhelm the WIX builder. You will find as you are dragging (pushing) elements around they start to lag and stick. This can become very frustrating if you are trying to work toward a tight deadline in a busy or demanding environment.

limited control with deeper development issues – With using a website builder such as WIX you surrender building more accessible a technically proficient website. It’s also trickier to get into the real nuts and bolts to solve somewhat basic issues.

Wix Verdict – Jack of all

Cheap and cheerful and great for non-techies. This user-friendly website builder is good if your are starting out. I have seen WIX used for straight up brochure and small scale websites with great results and if you are on shoe string it could be something to consider. WIX is nice to use, quite slick and an intuitive piece of online software! Not the cheapest, but ok.

//======================
* – just to the stress this from the previous point.
Sometimes, people think websites are static and they adopt their thinking to an archaic approach to website design. Websites are no longer static and it is best to avoid a website design in this way. If you would like to know more about this feel free to send an enquiry.
//======================

Rating out of 5 : : 1 = Poor 5 = Excellent

Cost = 3
Ease of use = 5
Creation Efficiency = 3
Set Up = 4
Quality Of Websites = 2
Value = 3

Total = 20

———————————————

WordPress is Free

WordPress has been available for years! It has grown a very large and loyal following that are building better product everyday. WordPress is completely free to use, its open source and has a large community of developers and agencies available to help. If you have your own domain and hosting, using WP is as simple as downloading and implementing it yourself. Certain hosting companies come with one Click installer which can make installing very straight forward but this isn’t the case for all hosting companies.

Wordpress logo

If you don’t have hosting or a domain you can also set up your WP hosting complete free – WordPress > don’t panic!

You can create very powerful website using WP and comes with a very large library of resources to build different types of websites; stores, blogs, brochure sites, downloads sites, ticket software etc etc – it’s vast and WordPress has gone way beyond being just a blogging tool!

WordPress is integrated with many 3rd party companies which range from over automated email systems to analytics. There is also themes which turn WP into a visual website builder. All this plus the features mentioned before.

WordPress Cons

Hackers like it – being a victim of it’s own success and a large proportion of websites being made using WordPress, it’s a hackers paradise. If you have a very large scale website perhaps other options are better to consider.

Plugin’s can break – Although there are 1000’s of plugins on the WP market place some of them can fail over time if they are not maintained.

Needs to be maintained – WordPress needs TLC occasionally. Pay attention to your dashboard or email notifications if you need to update you current version of WP or its plugins.

Set up – WordPress can be a challenge from time to time when trying to install it on your own host. This can range from obscure incompatibilities or ‘access’ not being configured properly

Tricky to change – The default version of WP can be tricky to tailor without knowing your way around CSS or downloading a plugin. This is where using a developer could come in use if you decide to use WordPress.

Used a lot – due to a lot of websites using WordPress website can start to feel the same.

WordPress Pros

Progressive & Powerful – WordPress is always pushing forward with it’s technology and it’s developer community are always improving the platform.

Community – WordPress comes with large pool of knowledgeable developers creating new functions and extending the function of the default software through plugins and themes which can either be purchased or downloaded for free.

Powerful for no or low budget (FREE) – you can create a professional and functional website with default Wordpress software.

Do what you like with it, more or less – create your website today on your own domain and hosting you and can do what you choose with it – isn’t that great!

Simple to use – It comes with a reasonably easy to use ‘dashboard’ – not too dissimilar to Blogger.

– Plugins and Themes – Just too much awesome to list. Also a lot of dross but there is essentially a candy store of added functions to select from.

Rating out of 5 : : 1 = Poor 5 = Excellent

Cost = 5 / (*1 )
Ease of use = 4
Creation Efficiency = 4
Set Up = 3
Quality Of Websites = 5
Value = 5

Total = 26 / (*22)

*Cost variable due to free VS paid. As this article is about free and low budget website solutions the score jumps from free to expensive depending on whether you need a dev to help you.

WordPress Verdict : Great Value, Great quality

WordPress is a good platform and worth considering if you want some flexibility in what functions come with your website and whether you want to change it at a later date. You may require developer to help you in the beginning but after that, your WP site is yours to do with as you choose.

That’s all! 3 Simple ways for getting a website online – in detail.

I hope this will offer some insight! If you are needing a Graphic Website Designer to help out with creating your business send me a message or if you have any queries about the listing above – also get in touch and will try my best to answer!

This article was written to give some guidance as how to go about creating a free website. This is based on my skills and experience. The opinions, based on my experience, are ‘my opinions’ and not that of others. Please bare in mind when making your business decisions on you website that you have considered what has been written and do your research thoroughly.

The scores were created for a bit of fun.

The platforms listed are tools. It’s down to you to offer great experience and value to the person reading it.

why note read :
Why use Unity for your gaming project –

How We Made A Successful Retail Ready Card Game

If you are looking to make a retail ready card game which you can sell to large retailers this article covers the stages and strategies we used (in my former role) to design and create a successful game!

More on my game design >

Steps To Creating a Successful Game

Simplified stages to creating the game.

  • 1 ) Research ideas.
  • 2 ) Research trends, add a unique spin.
  • 3 ) Use inspiration, don’t make cheap or low quality copy.
  • 4 ) Get your game out there for businesses to see.
  • 5 ) Create something worthwhile.
  • 6 ) Keep the production cost down.
  • 7 ) Test and polish the game.
  • 8 ) My part(s) in creating the card game
retail ready game design
First edition of the game

Why did we create this game?

After doing some initial research and looking into product ideas, a colleague mentioned to me that he had seen a game where the players have to say silly tongue twisting phrases whilst wearing a dental mouth restraint – I know, it sounds strange to me now as it did then.

My colleague mentioned how he had seen a game on a television program the night before. He proceeded to open a tab in his browser and play a clip of the television program. Without paying too much attention to the idea, I dismissed it at first. Thinking it was game only people like me and him would play but he persisted with the idea.

I was half right, but little did I or the company realise how popular it would be.

After seeing James Corden trying to speak with one of these dental mouth restraints in his mouth we came to the conclusion it could be a funny if it was boxed and ‘gamifyied!’

Further to this, we couldn’t find any of these mouth restraint games in the UK. It existed in one form in the USA but this is where we spotted a gap in the market and considered creating a game for the UK audience.

We created something that was following a trend but different enough to stand out from what would become a busier crowd.

We went forward to create a successful card game! And what a blast we had creating it!

Step 1

We did some home work to see if there was an audience ready for the game. Make sure you have a target customer in mind and create your game for them!
Who will play it? How much will they spend? Why would they play it? Do you need to educate the customer on how the product works? These are just some of the questions if you are considering taking your game to a high-street retailer.


Take these things into account when you start plan your game.

We created trend game… a different one

The game we created wasn’t revolutionary, but took some lessons from other successes.

It is wise to do your home work before committing to big decisions, and creating a game is a BIG decision. After looking at competitor websites, products online and reviews we started to collect our data and based our design and content decisions around the information we had collected. This often fell in line with a process the company called NPD – (New Product Development)

NSFN this is the game draft
Concept and draft for adult edition – this edition was filled with crude phrases

We wanted to know who would buy this product and how we could be different.

Retailers don’t want to take stupid risks, especially with the state of retail as it is. Proving that your product follows a trend market can carry you in good stead but be prepared to fight in a market that will saturate quickly.

Remember, why should a retailer select your product?

Step 2

Look at existing games, see what they are doing right see what you can do better!

Do it different – don’t make a bad copy

Assuming you have gone with an existing product that has an established community and marketing buzz, creating an out-and-out copy won’t get you very far. Setting aside legal issues, market saturation and being a grubby business practice you will want to create something good and call it your own.

You have used the trend product as inspiration – a mannequin, a skeleton, which you’ll need to dress, position and potentially change it’s structure to create a game which is appealing and different.

We brain stormed various ideas how we could have different modes of play, extra dynamics of the game but keep it low cost.

You should create something that will please. The creativity is down to you.

Step 3

Create a game that plays well, looks good and is affordable. Avoid ‘copying’ a success. Use it as a guide rail only! For this game, we created Forfeits, this added a new dynamic to the game using most of the same components just different rules and modes of play. Funnily enough, which other makers of similar games also started to use later on.

We must have been onto something…

Access To Gaming Retail Channels

If you want to create a game which is successful in the retail market, you will need to have access to companies that can sell your game on your behalf. You may already have access to shops and stores which can sell your game or you may aspire to sell the game yourself. But if you want to scale quickly, you will need to ‘wholesale’ your game.

Finding retail channels for new business can be a tricky… more so if you are trying to pitch an new and unproven game.

Step 4)

Take your game on the road and try to network with companies. Attend trade-shows, arrange meetings with your shiny retail ready prototype, talk to purchasers on linked in and be very proactive.

Customer Validation – Created By Demand

Our card game had become popular. We needed to create more content and quickly! We created additional expansion packs, card decks, different editions of the game ( I also dallied with a concept of creating an app but this never went beyond the visuals and testing prototype.)

These versions of the game offered different modes of play and more content for fans.

The game started to gain popularity and traction online from social media, to Amazon to smaller outlets. We looked at the reviews to see what we were doing well and what we weren’t.

Design by data.

End-users (customers on the street) were enjoying the game and sharing their joy and comments. This gave us a great sense of pride, we had created something that world enjoyed.

Our product was making people happy!

Mouth Trap Product review image
Happy customers!

Step 5 )

Create something people will enjoy. You want them to take away a good user-experience and feel happy with their purchase. No one wants to pay money for a game that is clearly a rip off and landfill.

Invest in creating a good thing.

Keep it affordable.

When we created the card game we wanted to create something that was good value for money in comparison to similar editions. Keeping the production cost down, we needed to offer value by making the best version of itself within the budget.

The game was between £15 – 20 for the first edition of the game. Also worth noting, with keeping the cost of the game down we wanted it to RRP and be accessible to a larger audience.

Step 6 )

Keep it affordable, does it need spot UV printing? No. will it impact the game play?
The more you add, the more price you will have either pass onto the customer or your business will have to absorb.

Use a ‘Minimum Viable Product’ – remembering not to insult the customer with your finished game
by going too ‘Minimum Viable Product’

Test Your Game!

Once the initial prototype of the card game was created. We tested the product and it’s phrases to see what worked and what needed improvement. You would be surprised by what you would discover.

I have played a couple of board games which looked fancy but were a drag to play. You shouldn’t create a game that looks good but is terrible to play – people will feel duped!

Retailers like a professional looking game, they will want a game that they can sell to their customers. They want an appealing product to place on the shelf, but to create a game or any product, that is just ‘shiny packaging’, is short-sighted.

A good example of a popular game is Chess. It has come in many guises over time ranging from drinking editions to Harry Potter but it still has the solid foundations of being a good game (open to opinion) which can be played over and over again.

If you removed all the artwork for your game, use featureless items – would your game still be fun to play?

Try to create something good from top to bottom.

Step 7 )

Test your game on your piers, colleagues and potentials for the target market. Testing the game ‘only on you’ – the creator is flawed as you know how you would like the game to be played and how it ‘should’ be played, not how strangers will play it in reality.

The Design Process –

This stage could also have been put at the first stage, especially as this is design blog but I wanted to acknowledge the ‘thought and planning‘ behind the game which I was heavily involved with before opening Photoshop or Illustrator.

This step covers some of the journey involved in creating the product. There was so much involved in the game! Creating cards, the logo, the box, the concept, the marketing material for the game… writing!

We wanted to create a game that players would want to talk about, laugh with and share with friends.

Logo and icons for mouthtrap game
Title, logo and vector created by me in a very rapid turn around

A rapid turn around for Logo and Title Design for the game. Created by me in Adobe Illustrator. The logo was created so that the it could stand out and be tailored here and there. E.G adding devil horns and fangs to it.

Box for drinking editions

Box art for game

The first box (edition 1) was created using a pizza box type Dieline. The later editions came as a top and bottom box with a lid.

(Card Art)

This was one of my favourite aspects of the game. Creating the cards. Later editions of the cards were changed so that phrases were on both sides. Visually a little less appealing but offered better value to the customer and extended the length of game play.

Piddle Pants Monk – Game Illustration

Vector of a monk that has wet himself!
Heavily changed stock graphic. only the face shape, and mouth are the original
Vectors of drinking bottles
Some of the vectors created by me and placed onto the artwork

All artwork for this game is Copyrighted – do not use!

Why not start building your successful retail ready card game!

Who said watching TV would be a waste of time?

If you would like help in designing your game be it designing, drawing or creating the marketing graphics I would be be more than happy to offer my skills and experience.

20 killer tips to land your first Junior Graphic Design role

This post offers useful, honest and actionable tips to help you land your first Junior Graphic design role or internship.

You are on a mission graduate graphic designer

This post is here to help

Finding work as a fresh-faced young Graphic Designer can be challenge! This post has been written to offer assistance in your journey to landing that desired role. By hopefully following these 24 graduate designer tips it will push closer to finding you goal into becoming a intern or a graduate designer.

As for my credentials; I have both been a design graduate and manager in charge of hiring interns and graduate designers. This post will cover what the company looked for (my previous role), what ‘I’ looked for and what I wasted my time doing in the beginning when looking for work.

My credentials to clear up

1) I’m not Neville Brody, or Saul Bass.
2) A lot of this experience comes myself and my former colleagues
3) The rest is taught
4) The rest of it is from first hand experience.

20 detailed tips for landing that ideal creative role :


Part 1 – Getting Into Mindset – It’s a job in itself.

Design Brain

1) Be positive, and stay positive
There may come a time in your search for work where you will feel down in the dumps, the worst thing you can do if you really want to be a Graphic Designer is throw in the towel too early on.

Some graduates manage to find a jobs as a designer straight out of University. Others will land roles off the back work experience, after 4 months of applying, after 400 applications or after nearly 10 months! Keep going, and push forward. No two people are the same and your journey could be different.

2 ) Don’t Waste (too much) Time With Recruiters
I put a strong emphasis on talking to a lot of the recruiters in London at the start, believing they would find my next all star job! Generally speaking, recruiters don’t manifest results if you are a graduate. I will assume, they are more preoccupied with landing the roles for higher paying jobs and getting a larger commission – I’m not sure exactly.

Bottom line, I spoke to many creative recruiters for jobs that didn’t exist or didn’t come to anything. The few that were useful gave some interesting advice, others almost destructive advice.

Try here instead – YCN

3 ) Keep Bettering Yourself
This follows on from “wasting time”. Sitting on your computer watching Youtube videos about cute cats jumping off of furniture isn’t going to land you a job. Make good use of your time by researching companies, learning the nuances and shortcuts of Photoshop and Illustrator or consider learning a coding language. The more skills and worthwhile projects you have in your portfolio, the closer you will come to landing you first ideal role.

4 Imagine Your Ideal Role
For me, this was the trickiest part of finding a role and I feel that my portfolio, although diverse could have been considered convoluted. Your want your portfolio and visual language to be in tune with your first full-time job. In hindsight, I had no idea about what type of job I wanted! I just wanted a creative job. If you don’t know, consider working backwards – what jobs don’t you want?

Here is a scenario.

Joanne was a diligent and hardworking student that tried her best at University. She was fresh-faced graduate full of hope and aspirations, she assumed it would be a breeze, she was a top student and she – like others – would just step into a creative role. But it didn’t come as easily as expected.

Why? Because, its not all about grades and portfolio, it was about finding a professional job match. Joanne had an artistic lean in her portfolio. She became a book designer.

Craig, he was great with branding, liked to skateboard but hated reading books, his persona and portfolio was all about skateboarding. Craig was a fresh-faced graduate designer and he applied to the position advertised for a ‘Book Designer’ – that’ll will do, he thought. “I need a job so I will just go for it”. He didn’t get that role for graduate book designer… but he did get the role working for a Skateboarding Label.

Is there a grain of truth in the above scenario’s? A bit. And maybe these fictional graduates lived happily ever rafter because they found a good job match.


5 ) Your Portfolio and CV are not speaking to each other
If you are struggling to get a job, or get shortlisted, it could be a case that your portfolio and CV don’t match up!

I have read a great CV’s, useless CV’s, silly CV’s random CV’s and just obscure and irrelevant. You CV needs to be applicable to the role and the contents of the portfolio should reflect at least some of the information in your CV, spelling and typo’s are only the beginning. You need a CV and folio that match each other and will help to put you ahead of other applicants. Controversially, I will say make a killer portfolio first and write the CV second.

6 ) Right place at the right time | luck and availability
Sound like a cliché? It is! But it also very true. You can be a ridiculously talented designer with a great portfolio, but if you are not in the right place at the right time then you won’t get the job. Roles can become available due somebody leaving, maternity cover, looking for contractors for specific task or the company is expanding! Be on the job boards, be ready and be available.

7 ) Businesses Aren’t Charities

when I first started trying to land my first job, my CV and covering letter didn’t bring anything to the job. Without really saying it, I expected the role would just land in my lap as I was a shiny new graduate – graduating or passing you course is just the beginning and employers smell your un-jaded optimism from a mile away.

With my begging letter (covering letter) at the ready, it said far more than what was written on the paper. Between the lines it said :

please give me a job, I have nothing to offer, and you will be doing me a favour by hiring me… please do me a favour! I need experience.
Explorers, directors and seniors designers need more than this. A CV saying that you need something from them as opposed to offering all of your energy and bustling talent is just selling yourself short. I wish I could go back and tell myself this.

Some kind souls took time to answer my queries and offer advice but most of the time they ignored my queries. You need bring your ‘a game’ to the team, you will be hired to do a job and do it well. Hiring managers are looking for potential and your are brimming with it – remember? Bring your best.

Aside from drawing attention to the blemish of inexperience, employers will know you are a graduate just by looking at the graduation dates. Focus on what you can do and do well.

Companies won’t hire you out of pity

Part 2 – Job Preparation

Preparation is key.

Vector Black Portfolio

Looking at the points before have you picked you ideal employer or type of job?

Are you considering how your portfolio will align with your ideal role?

If you don’t have a clue what you ideal role is, don’t threat! I didn’t either! A good way of assessing who you ideal employer could be is by working backwards. Ask yourself : What would you hate to do? This will narrow you options, and consider your first steps when looking for work.

8 ) Design Portfolio
This shouldn’t even need to be a point but I have run interviews where ‘Graphic Design Graduates’ came to a creative design interview without a portfolio… or anything to show for that matter. To begin with, that applicant was relying on my memory (my poor memory) and hoping that I could recall everything in their portfolio, at least they got dressed! Turning up to a graduate position without anything wasn’t ideal for a couple of reasons:

1) Did their college or institution not make the designer create a portfolio?
2) They should want to put their best foot forward.
3) This is a chance to discuss their best pieces of work! To really shine!
4) Dozens of other applicants will turn up with a portfolio and it is VERY a competitive market.


Ah it will be ok not to have a portfolio, I am the best designer of all of them” – chances are there will be many good designers going for that position, especially in London.

There were times when we would get over a 100 applicants. Hoping an employer will remember your best work is putting you, as the applicant, at a huge disadvantage – you are a Designer, as general rule you need something to show.

Having a professional portfolio displaying your best and treasured work – especially for print roles is a must in my opinion.

Below are some key points which I have collected together from interviews and sharing information with Creative Directors and MD’s :-

  • Put your best pieces of work at the front and at the back, a strong start and a strong finish.
  • Try to include relevant pieces of work for the job role.
  • Keep improving your portfolio, offline and online.
  • Avoid rubbish work : if you have a ‘live project’ where you had to use ‘Comic Sans’ for the local church poster, leave it out of your portfolio. Putting a low quality project in your portfolio will undo all of your hard work. At most, just mention in your CV about a live project – if your gut and design sense tells you have added an terrible project, you probably have.
  • Add as much ‘good’ quality live work as possible. Work experience goes a long way and ‘showing’ that you have this experience reinforces trust and credibility.
  • I have always used an A3 professional portfolio since graduation. I’ve seen others use archival boxes also which look good. I would personally avoid an A2 ring-binder portfolio, they are too big and and says ‘art college’ to me. It’s all about impressions.

Your portfolio needs to reflect you as a professional, you’re not a student any more… sorry to remind you!

9 ) Digital Portfolio
Before an employer looks at your ‘physical portfolio’ you are going to need a digital portfolio, a website, or something online so you can make that initial first impression or ideally all of the afore mentioned in order to help grab their attention. Whether it is a compressed PDF or something on Behance, get your work online. When creating your digital PDF portfolio, keep it a small file size, anything above 10 MB may get rejected with inbox limitations.

10 ) Your Design CV
You NEED a CV. Don’t rely on your portfolio to do all of the talking as employers will want to see where you have studied, what you have studied, when, your skills and so on. Employers and hiring management are looking for relevant information, they are looking pieces of information and that will help recruit the ideal candidate for the role. If your CV is irrelevant, thin, too much or riddled with typo’s you are lowering you chances of being selected.

Handy CV notes :

  • Don’t create your CV in Word. You are a designer, put some style and class in it.
  • Remove irrelevant job experience. Art Directors, Seniors Designers etc, are not interested in your paper round from when you were 15. You wont be delivering papers in your internship or graduate design role.
  • Make it easy to read and skim. Hiring managers are in a rush and they are also human… make your information snappy and easy to navigate. They might be reading a lot of CV’s and by the 70th applicant, focus can start to go out of the window.
  • Use your CV to sell you and reinforce your absolutely killer portfolio!

11 ) Covering letters
Covering letters are where I have seen some of the biggest mistakes. Keep it polite and acknowledge the job listing. You can sniff a ‘copy and paste’ email from a mile away as it seams to ignore all of points in the job listing. But if you do ‘copy and paste’ make sure to add name and don’t leave sentences like this.

“Dear …..

I would like to apply for the position of … as believe I could bring something new to the team.”


I have seen a letter with the “…”still left in. I don’t think they cared much about the job, maybe they were tired!

12 ) Portfolio & CV are inline
I’m going to let you in on secret, after reading so many CV’s for the creative intern roles at my former company, I stopped reading the CV first!

Why? I have taken the time to read CV’s in past and individuals can talk the talk but can’t walk the walk or so the cliché goes. In essence, they bigged themselves in CV and when I looked at the portfolio(s)… Wow, that’s awful

Now that isn’t me bashing Graduate Designer, not at all, I’m not actually convinced they studied design, unless it was at the school MS Publisher 1995. That CV was created by somebody that didn’t have clue about design. I felt ‘had’! The covering letter and CV were so convincing when I opened the digital PDF Portfolio, I was shocked. Imagine reading an epic CV and then you click onto a digital PDF that looks something a 12 year would create .

Trouble is, I had already wasted my time reading a borderline deceptive covering letter and CV. I will have to see the good and assume they were very optimistic and deluded. They Certainly were not a designer, but they sounded like one.

What could I do to with such an individual? Time is very precious in a busy commercial environment. From then on : folio first, glance at covering letter, good! Go back, read.

Part 3 – Uncomfortable & Unspoken Realities

I’m going to spill the beans on things outside of your skills, CV and portfolio that could have an influence on your being passed over. Some of these are opinions, others are first hand experiences as an applicant and other little ‘gems’ from behind very closed business doors.

Hopefully the points in this section will be both helpful to you and make me hated by recruiters and companies – good!

Spilling the proverbial design beans

13 ) Your Uni, School and background can influence your selection
When having a conversation with another Senior Designer I was surprised when I heard a couple of things.

According to the designer, at a certain establishment, they checked the following :-

  • Where applicants had studied
  • Grades
  • Secondary school and GCSE’s – ‘secondary school and GCSE’s?’ – honestly.

You cannot choose your past and where you went to school as teenager. Back in school, I didn’t know what I was going to study afterwards, nor would I know that being at that school could have an influence. Believe it or not I think there is a certain level of elitism in certain establishments that goes beyond your accomplishments and attainment, sadly…

But you can choose your future.

14 ) Geography – you live too far away.
This is both from personal experience as an applicant and an employer. Recruiters and employers can sometimes see ‘where’ you have applied from. So if you are looking for a Job in London for argument sake and you are based in Northern Scotland – certain jobs websites tell the recruiters and prospective employers where the application came from.

How do they know and why does it matter?
It shouldn’t but it will be counted against you regardless, I will come to that. I have experimented with this by accident I the past. On my CV I wrote that I was currently living in London, I was staying in London on and off but not living here. On my CV it stated that I currently lived in London. I applied for a role through a website and a recruiter rang me the following day.

“So your CV says, you live in London, but your application came from Cornwall?” or similar words.

How did they know and why did it matter!?

It matters. This problem, among many as a graduate was more of a gulf than a hurdle. I didn’t understand why geography should matter if I wanted to apply for the position, they were interested before I told them where I was from. I can recall being told a couple if times after the initial telephone interview with the recruiter that I was too far away for the job – despite being willing to pay for a ticket in an attempt to get a job! As time went on I ran into this a couple of times. Mostly from recruiters.

Recruiters want to make money quickly, and sadly if they find another eligible graduate for the position that lives in or around the city they will get first pick, it can be as simple as that.

My previous boss also favoured locals as it was convenient. I tried my best when possible to favour, passion, talent, work ethic and a cracking portfolio when selecting a candidate – geography was irrelevant to me perhaps I was also motivated by an emotional ideal. I remember how many times I was thrown on the heap before I could even finish saying the sentence
“I am from Cornwall…”

This comes from the perspective of coming to and living in London. How to vault over the Geography issue:

  • Persist and keep applying.
  • Be patient
  • Find a friend or relative to stay with whilst you look.
  • Look for more creative jobs that by pass-recruiters where you feel less like a slab of design meat.

– Last point here – DO NOT RUN UP A DEBT!

15 ) You might not get the most fun tasks
As a graduate you may be given some repetitive or smaller jobs – that’s juts how it is. But you should use these to your advantage, do a great job, do it quickly and use these tasks to make an impression! You might also get a great reference from the your employer at the end. When handing out these tasks I would also mix them in with more interesting and conceptual tasks.

Part 4 – Design Tips | Employers Perspective

I will now write of what I, and my fellow colleagues looked for when at the interview stage of recruiter a graduate.

16 ) Character
Good portfolio, an active mind, somebody who will do the tasks. We would recruit someone with flair, a graduate that would be able to apply their skills to the brand and be part of the team.

In a highly sociable office / studio I would have to gauge how you, the applicant ,may interact with me and the rest in the team and how they might react to you. I could be away, in a meeting or really busy. If I left you as the Junior or Graduate alone with a sales manager would the office combust because he asked you to help implement a email sig for example. Knowing the personalities of the office how would you react to person A, B who you’d work with every day. We are people after all and not all people get along. Making the wrong match In a work environment could cost the company money

There is more to an interview than just a Portfolio and CV.

17 ) Ask questions, show interest.
Another thing that doesn’t appear to be mentioned much in other interview or advice articles. An interview is not only about you being interviewee, it’s also about you and the company. If I have a discussed potential project coming up in the future it is nice to see if you are actually interested in the role or topic. So asking more about the projects, the role, the progression are are worthwhile questions to ask when it comes to making that first impression.


18 ) Your ‘Interests’ on your CV
Why did this matter to me and the company? It’s not a huge point but as strange as it sounds, if I was interested in the candidates CV, I would look at their hobbies and interests to see I could find any relevance to the role.

If the candidate mentioned that they were interested in ‘tech’ games, gifting, arts and crafts, etc it, it could have been a tipping factor for taking more interest in them as I would be aware of the type of project in the pipeline. Not only that, I would consider the following based on your interests.

A – You would be more interested and passionate in a project if you were already like it as a hobby.

B – More likely to come up with vivid and strong marketing and product ideas if you already had some background knowledge on the topic.

It’s a piece on the CV that is often taken for granted, but as person recruiting for an intern, freelancer or potential graduate designer I would look!

For an actionable tip, perhaps write a bit about yourself, love computer games or books? Write it. You could find a company, agency or publisher that is looking for someone with a love for what you do. It’s a potential spot to add ‘icing’ on the cake.

19 ) Commercial experience will put you a an advantage.
Relevant experience more so. Seeing that you have already worked on commercial design projects, even be it for family and friends, will still offer transferable experience. If you can find freelance work, or work experience in your local area this will put you at an much bigger advantage when it comes to landing your first graduate designer role! To find thes jobs look in local papers, social media, talk to friends, Google, Jobs boards.

Conclusion : Tip Summary for Getting a Graduate Design Role

Ok that might be a lot of action to undertake in a short period of time but hopefully, now that you have read this article, you will leave this page feeling prepared and motivated to smash it and get the job. Here is a condensed summary.

  • Make good use of your time.
  • Be prepared, have you portfolio and CV ready
  • Remove irrelevant information from your CV
  • Create a portfolio that is applicable to your ideal role
  • Get as much experience as possible!
  • Work on personal projects and keep bettering yourself
  • Try to network with companies, directors, charities, etc – focus much less on recruiters
  • Keep checking jobs boards
  • Show interest in the role if you get the interview

Lastly from me…

As a closing note I have decided to add a little personal message from me – a small piece of my career journey from back in the day which shows I am human, just like everyone else. Here is a story from one of my less than ideal interviews.

The less than ideal interview

After applying for a job for a ‘Junior Designer’ I found on jobs board, I landed an initial interview with a recruiter. I had my portfolio, CV and smile ready. When asking the recruiter for tips – I asked question along the lines of ‘would the employer want grow and improve the website?’ I was keen, eager and naïve. I wanted to bring my passion to the company. After looking at the website and the branding I made some notes – taking into account that the recruiter also thought It may be a good idea to share these ideas.

With my mental notes scribed neuron juice onto my frontal lobes, my enthusiastic nature and my slick black portfolio, I was ready for the interview.

I sat down in front of 2 people, A Developer and his Manager I will assume.

I mentioned some ‘technical issues’ with the main website (being a website designer role – sort of – I though it would help) little did I know… That the person who built the website, tech issues included, was sat in front of me – in front of his Manager! The damage was done.

I had in inadvertently bruised this Developers ego without knowing or meaning to, I just wanted to point out tips to improve the website.

I didn’t get the role – he hated me, a lot!

The gentleman who had built the page probably came away from the interview squirming and I had put my foot in it by offering my ‘positive ideas’ for improvement. I was a fool, it was never meant to be and hey-ho I went onto other interviews.

Lesson : watch what you say, and be very mindful who you are talking to. Don’t accidentally ruffle too many feathers in an interview.

Further to this job, it wasn’t quite as advertised, it wasn’t a creative role. I was going to copy and past text into ‘mailshots’. Recruiters and job listings can have a sneaky habit of ‘fluffing’ up job descriptions.

I think I was happier not getting it, or so I tell myself.

So, don’t worry about the bad stuff, good will come along!

20 – Big Last Point – Stay Positive

GOOD LUCK GRADUATE DESIGNER!

Thank you for reading this post

20 Killer Tips to land your first graphic design role

Where to find creative design inspiration | 10 websites and maybe a walk…

Creative design inspiration

Before the 10 websites…

Feeling stuck, confused, unmotivated by your design brief? |You have been sat at your computer for hours on end unable to produce the work and the time is ticking. In this post, I have collected together 10 links to websites that I hope will inspire you to nailing that dead line. Hey whilst you are reading this why not put the kettle on, sit back and think… don’t panic

– Trust me there is a difference.

Don’t rely on a blank Illustrator document to inspire you

If you have be sat for a long period of time staring at blank document you need give your mind an idea injection. And for this your mind needs creative fuel. I believe it is a rare thing that something comes from nothing. All ideas, products and design will have something to trigger that spark.

Aimlessly Pushing Pixels

You may be stuck because you have put the cart before the horse. There is no harm in discussing a brief with a client or boss to help you gauge and progress a project. Conversations with the right people can be a great motivator and bring a different edge to project that you wouldn’t have otherwise considered.

Step away from unproductive mode

There is no harm in coming away from your screen and stretching your legs and getting some blood and oxygen flowing around your body. A study here, shows how walking can stimulate thinking – if someone questions your seemingly random urges to push yourself away from the screen and go for a walk it could be worth mentioning the information in this study. When going for a walk at lunch time, I see it as ‘non-working’ working. It’s generally more progressive for me to do this than sit then in a brain haze.

Creative inspiration - Cornish beach walk
Wish you were here!

10 inspiring design websites – 2019

Did you go for a walk? Maybe you cant go for a walk for what ever reason. I have pulled together some posts from an older personal blog post. Did you make yourself that drink?

Design / Creative

https://abduzeedo.com/collections

https://www.designweek.co.uk/landing-page/projects/

https://www.creativeboom.com/inspiration/

https://printpattern.blogspot.com/

https://www.designspiration.net/


Packaging

http://lovelypackage.com/

Illustration

https://illustrationfriday.com/


Web

https://www.smashingmagazine.com/

https://thefwa.com

http://www.csszengarden.com/

Social Media
Websites such as Pinterest and Twitter can be a great source to get the old creative juices flowing – remember not to get carried away… you have a deadline after all!

Thank you for reading. If you are still stuck on a project I would be more than happy to help out. For more information have a look at my portfolio website here.

Website & Interface Projects – 2019

With over 10 years commercial experience in creative design and front-end web development I have been given some brilliant opportunities to work on products which have been fun, engaging and challenging. A large proportion of my experience has come from Satzuma, a gifting and tech company based in London.

User interface
A collection if interface elements for a
section of a flash memory sub domain

Projects have ranged from a tangible products to a new website which were created for promoting the product that was designed. ‘Branding’ and appearance was key, so the visual design for the website would have to work well for the packaging, the branding, the promotional material and all else in between, The design needed considered how it would be implemented across the board from start to finish.

Initial icon design created on illustrator and photoshop
Snap shot of early icons for the flash application –
Website application icons
Icon design for the application
A drag and drop application used to promote a product online
The drag and drop application – in action! Shows how the product worked.
Actionscript in action! used to create an APP
Doesn’t work by magic. In order to make the application work, it needed code! the life blood. So getting my coding hat on this was app was developed in Action Script 3. Once it was finished and released, the app could be played either in your browser or downloaded.
Landing page design for website
The application, also had a dedicated page on the website so you could download the play the game / application from your computer.

What was the point in this website and application?

A product was designed so you could decorate your own smartphone and headphones with an all encompassing DIY kit. It was for the gifting and tech market. And for this, the website look and feel needed meet the criteria:

  • Needed to be eye-catching and appealing to large retail stores on the high street
  • The product was geared toward slighty ‘edgy’ young female teens – students
  • The app needed to show the product in action from the ‘buyers’ browser. It was also used for the B2C market so ‘end-users’ could see what the product was about.

Creating An E-shop

It was discussed that it would be a good idea to create an online shop so business to business retailers could buy the products in wholesale. So a 1000 units, 50 units, etc and the platform would maintain the stock. After research and looking into core requirements, maintenance, ease of use and cost and stability OpenCart was the go ahead.

Snapshot of shopping cart of  website.





This is an example of the of the OpenCart theme with the core Satzuma branding applied to it.

The website needed to look engaging and in keeping with the brand as a whole. Packaging like one business and a website that looked like another would potentially put off customers and larger retail brands.

Full length opencart UI design
This is the UI design based around the Nexus Theme. This is the design stage before the artwork was broken down and applied to the online store.

A Piece UI Design

This is a piece of UI design that was applied to one of the earlier original Satzuma brochure site designs. These buttons and elements were broken down and written into the HTML and CSS. This website gave a punchy brand experience whilst offering information on the product.

User interface design for brochure website
On closer inspection you will see the various elements that made up the functionality and aesthetic of the original Satzuma website.

This design encompasses some of the core elements of the website. Such as :

  • The user interface design – buttons, backgrounds, quotes, decorations, navigation, logo, social media and other ad-hoc parts that constructed the general interface of the website
  • Buttons – Its not a coincidence that buttons are orange. Based on a seminar by a ecommerce consultancy. People clicked more often on the colour orange. Which was fortunate as so was the core branding of Satzuma. This allow for clear areas of Calls To Action on the web page.
  • Dark Elements – The core branding of Satzuma was orange a black – fun and tech. Using these core principles of the brand, I created a look that was both functional and respectful to the branding of the business. This also plays into something called ‘semiotics’ you can read more on semiotic examples here. The main purpose of the black, in addition to be part of the black/dark branding was to act as a neutral bed of colour to emphasise the CTA’s and the content.
  • Charm & Character – following the charming elements and the character of the brand you will see (or used to) the Satzuma Man drawing attention to promotions and core messages. He was a face / mascot which captured fun elements of the brand

Thank you for reading

If you need help with your website be it basic consultation, design, growing online, design the look and feel, helping to set up a WP website so you can manage your own website – feel free to say hello.