The holidays are here, and if you're reading this blog, you probably have some designer friends. And you proooobably want to get them something for Christmas because  you probably enjoy spending time with them because THEY are probably awesome. Right?

We have some gift suggestions for you–some found in stores and others online, because who knows, maybe you won't be unearthed from your own family tradition until New Years.

1. Ampersand Cheese and Cracker Platter // $48 // link
For when they entertain, love typography, and you want to eat!

xmas_ampersand2. Spigen Swivel Stand for Smartphones // $24.99 //  link
Useful for watching Netflix, using FaceTime, or holding up a recipe, so it's perfect for any type of creative creator.


3. Moscow Mule Mug // $17.95 //  link
What designers like even more than drinking, is owning cool things from which to drink.


4. Hand-Eye Supply Magnetic Koozie // $28 // link
See above comment.


5. LePens // $1.59 each // link
Every designer needs pens! This is the equivalent of giving a chef knives. They will appreciate them.



6. FUUT Desk Feet Hammock // $87.99 // link
This one's a game changer. For designers to live a life of leisure without needing to fit an ottoman under their desk, this is just the thing.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 11.09.05 AM

7. BatteryBox // $139.95 // link
A portable battery supply for mobile devices, including laptops. If your friends are more likely to choose fresh air over coffee shop fumes, this isn't just helpful, it's essential.


So there you have it–some great ideas hear for the crafty, simple, creative, and organized buddies you need to buy for this year. Have a great holiday!


Posted: 12/23/2014 11:26:01 AM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments

As you may have seen in our short video clip (posted to our Website, Facebook and Twitter page), we tackled the age old question for UI/UX Designers and Architects “What portfolio is best for me?”. We wanted to go into further detail regarding this topic, for we believe it’s an important question to shed light upon. Please keep in mind that our perspective mirrors the perspective of the Hiring Managers and Decision-Makers we work with on a daily basis.

First and foremost, it is important to identify the kind of Designer YOU are and the positions YOU want! There is a crucial distinction between UX Architects and UX/UI Designers. While both disciplines are focused around the user’s experience, one can be considered more visual while the other more analytical/strategic. So understanding who you are (as a designer) is the most important step.


For UX Architects the PDF portfolio is the better option. Using a PDF makes it easier to tell your story because it allows you to organize heavy amounts of information detailing the initial user problem, the steps you took to solve that problem, and the end result. UX Architects portfolios tend to have a considerable amount of text because it’s important to include all the necessary details (user problem, user research, prototypes, wireframes etc…) that are instrumental in answering the initial problem, or meeting a certain goal. You want to tell the viewer a story and engage them on the endeavors you and your team went through to get from point A-B-C etc. Hiring Managers (when searching for a UX Architect) care about one thing and that is solving the problem.

We believe UX/UI Designers should use a web portfolio, that way you can artistically showcase the end result of your design endeavors. When hiring a UI/UX Designer, Hiring Managers want to see you showcase your knowledge of basic design principles, including color, typography, shading, image/logo placement etc. Although we believe it’s a great idea for you to use a web portfolio that does not mean you should not include your site-maps and wireframe samples. Although one may consider these to be unaesthetic, that does not mean they’re not useful. This allows Hiring Managers to take note of your UX practices. Also, it’s best to use your own website instead of a cookie-cutter portfolio website. This shows your knowledge of User Experience and also allows you to be more creative (with colors, typefaces etc.) while showing your work.

We hope our insight helps you decide which portfolio-type to use! Remember, it all comes down to the kind of Designer YOU consider yourself!

Posted: 12/17/2014 2:18:42 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments

We know being a creative freelancer can often be a bit of a gray area. The longer you do it, the more you work you put out into the world–and who's to say how that work is protected? You.

We can't tell you how many times we've heard stories about designers leaving job details up to the assumption that common courtesy and consideration will prevail. Unless there is clear, concise writing about the future ownership of work, there's bound to be trouble.

lock illustration, diagram for protection(image from AIGA Los Angeles)

The most important thing is to cover your bases in your contract.

While you will most likely "give" the work to your client, there are many instances where you will want to maintain ownership of the work. If this is the case, you  can offer its use as a license. Then, however, you'll need to address the questions that go along with that: When and where can your work be used? For how long? May the client alter it in any way for their own use? Are they required to credit you? If you've created work for a product–say, artwork for a T-shirt or something along those lines– and see yourself using the work in the future for something different, licensing can be a great option.

If you passed the rights along to your client but plan on using your work again in any way, make sure you say so, in writing. Though it is assumed you'll use the work in your portfolio later on, if you don't specify this language in the contract, there's still a slim chance the client isn't on the same page.

What if it's not a "job," per se? 

A lot of work is created outside of the structure of typical client-designer jobs, meaning there isn't necessarily a contract. Posting photos on Flickr, submitting designs to Threadless contests, designing a website template, participating in Minted challenges: these are all examples of contract-less situations. For Threadless and Minted, the key is to read, read, read. Lots of designers who aren't in the know participate, so the rules are usually pretty well-explained, it's just a matter of finding them somewhere in the fine print. Posting photos on Flickr and designing a website template, on the other hand, now can involve a great little tool called Creative Commons.

Creative Commons is a great resource for designers to have control over the use of their work.

While not a replacement for copyright, Creative Commons gives designers and artists licenses for work that lives in a fuzzy area when it comes to ownership: the world wide web. It offers six licenses, each of varying levels of looseness, and simplifies the process of applying a license for people who are unfamiliar. The licenses available allow for legally sound flexibility in future use, with many options detailing the extent of use. The site offers up assistance with the CC license chooser, spits out HTML code to mark with, and then includes guidelines for marking your work appropriately.

With an emphasis on making the process approachable and easy, Creative Commons is the place to start when it comes to work that has been put on the internet. But be sure to also specify details about ownership in a contract when you have the chance!

Posted: 12/15/2014 2:25:16 PM by Amanda Wahl | with 0 comments