All posts tagged “advice”

Daniel Arsham’s Modern Pompeii in Miami: We speak with the wunderkind artist about his new work, Art Basel and Werner Herzog’s best life advice

Daniel Arsham's Modern Pompeii in Miami

by Laura Feinstein

Here at Cool Hunting we’re big fans of Daniel Arsham. In the last few years, the 34-year-old designer, architect and co-founder of Snarkitecture has worked with everyone from musicians Pharrell and Chromeo to famed choreographer……

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Cool Hunting

Important Advice To Remember When You Design Your Infographic

In the marketing industry we have to see infographics as being quite new, although it looks like they have been around for ages. It is only now that we see a huge craze that appears in marketing and that includes infographics as a promotional method.

Important Advice To Remember When You Design Your Infographic

Using infographics can be highly beneficial for promoting literally any sign or campaign but it has to be done properly. Always remember that building an infographic does not guarantee you will get links to your pages or traffic to your sites. You have to be sure that the infographic is properly promoted and you need to learn how to create something that can be engaging.

We will now talk about infographic design since most people out there just get a vector based Illustrator template, paste some data and expect success. Before you submit your infographic to any site, make sure that you take into account how modern infographics are created since there are differences compared with what worked in the past, all fundamentals are always the same.

Data Has To Tell A Story

In order to properly communicate with your audience, you need to tell a story. It is the only way in which you can engage with anyone. When you just paste data and there is no story that is presented, you end up with an infographic that is not effective.

All data that you use needs to be:

  • Controversial
  • Competent
  • Compelling

Always think about whether or not the audience finds the data that you present and the way in which you present it as being interesting. At the same time, be sure that you always present information that is first offered by a credible, high authority source. Controversy is quite good since it creates an instant response. Creating debates and conversations is what helps spread influence.

Think About Audience And Purpose

One of the worst things that you can do is to create an infographic that includes really good data but everything you present is of no interest to the target audience. Before you even create your fist layout, you have to research the market, the media landscape and the client so that you can connect in a proper way.

After you identify your target audience, you will need to consider the call to action that you want to include. Some want to sell a product or a service. Others want to raise brand awareness. Identifying your purpose will help you to create an infographic that is suitable and that can help you to reach the goals you have at the moment.

Making Complex Data Completely Understandable

The wise marketer knows that he has to communicate in a way that the target audience can understand everything. This means that you have to avoid industry slang as much as possible. After data is analyzed, you have to figure out how to properly present it. The graphic’s main purpose is to make data as comprehensive and as pretty as possible.

The viewer can understand facts in a really easy way when proper graphics are used. What you create needs to have the aim of presenting everything in a way that reaches purposes. With this in mind, the visual representation of your data should:

  • Be accurate
  • Be clear
  • Be informative
  • Be accessible
  • Be optimized – presented in a way that will be conducive to promotion medium.
  • Be Attractive

The infographic needs to make the data easy to understand while also standing out as visually appealing and completely informative. As you can imagine, this is really difficult to achieve.

How our laws are made.
Infographic – How our laws are made.

A great example of an infographic that actually tells a story is How Laws Are Made (pictured above) by Mike Wirth and Dr. Suzanne Cooper Guasco. The reader is taken through the entire law making process, thus being captivated by a story instead of just data.

First Consider Your Structure!

When you build a house, you start with the foundation. In a similar way, the great infographic always relies on a clear, strong structure. A good structure will determine data organization, narrative flow and guarantee data integrity. When you concentrate on your structure, data will control graphics instead of visual design controlling the infographic.

If you want to have a good structure, you have to think about:

  • How much data you include – Is it too much or too little?
  • Data categorization – Different visual formats will be needed for different categories. Information is usually organized in 5 ways by designers: chronologically, alphabetically, categorically, hierarchically or by location.
  • Dimensions.
  • Mediums – animation, interactive or static.
  • Where infographics will be promoted – on TV sets, in print or on the internet.

While building your structure, stop from time to time and make sure that everything you create is very easy to understand. Infographics always have to inform and success always varies based on this. You may end up being caught up into your design and lose sight of your structure. So many designers create tremendous visualizations that are stunning on your wall but the data is not really accessible because of improper structures.

The bottom line with the structure is that it needs to be well constructed, with design being secondary in the process, but not to be neglected. When you add structure that is way too complex and those that see it have to spend a lot of time to decipher it, you have a huge problem. Your structure needs to:

  • Be comprehensive
  • Put focus on key elements
  • Be clear
  • Never mask data
  • Never obscure facts

How to be a Superhero.
Infographic – How to be a Superhero.

The infographic above showcases a really simple medium with minimal text but simple information, making it highly attractive, while also reaching a great target audience.

Use Correct Tools

The web designer has access to so many tools and chart options that can be used. We have access to lines, layers, areas, bars, pies and highly customizable elements that can make the infographic look exactly as you want it to. The problem is that when we have so many opportunities, it is easy to end up faced with problems since wrong choices are made.

You have to select design elements that are perfect based on the data that you are about to present. Visual representations of data blocks can be tough but you can easily use various elements in some circumstances.

As an example, use a simple bar chart if this is the most accessible format that is to be used. Learn from how data was presented in the past and do not always try to come up with something new. You can easily add some graphic elements to transform a bar chart into something else but is it something that will be beneficial for overall readability?

Choosing A Correct Visual Approach

There are basically two main types of infographics when talking about overall graphic visual design:

  • Data does all the talking – Artwork is created for data.
  • Graphic elements do the talking – Attractive design elements are created in order to drive a narrative, guiding style so that the information is mainly attractive while data is presented in a brute way.

Both approaches are suitable for specific situations. In some cases we can even combine them. In most situations you will need to consider the following to see what correct visual approach:

  • Branding
  • Exposure medium
  • Purpose
  • Necessary tone
  • Audience

You have to be really careful whenever you use illustrations so that you can represent narratives. Information and data stand out as main elements while illustrative elements should never hamper viewer comprehension. Metaphorical data visual representation can always be insightful and impactful when it is correctly used. Data would be lost if it is not correctly utilized.

Size Is Vital

The image that you create needs to be of a really high resolution. When bloggers or the press want to publish it or share it, high resolution is vital. You should never limit options before you even start designing your infographic by starting to work at an improper resolution.

A small infographic version is always recommended as it is to appear as a very attractive and small image, perfect for sharing on social networks. This is known as an infogram. The infogram is practically a really concise infographic part that can also be viewed as a standalone content.

Many designers forget about the infogram but you should not make this mistake. Having various sizes and resolutions is important. Below you can see an example of an infogram for the infographic we showed above:

How to be a Superhero.
Infographic – How to be a Superhero.


It is such a shame to see a really well designed infographic that does not have branding. At the same time, there are cases when we have too much branding. In most situations less is more as you build an outreach campaign. Try to think about how you can brand the content that you promote without making it seem that this is what you do. This is quite tricky but it can be done if you are a little patience. You can add logos at the top and URLs at the end. Also, if you have authority, you can add links to your content in the source section.

Arranging Data Into Sections

All the data that you have need to be broken down. Your infographic needs to include sections because of the fact that data becomes much easier to digest. The idea is to have parts of the infographic that can be used as standalone images to use for promotion purposes in the future. That is quite interesting for a promotion purpose since your infographic automatically transforms into various images that you would use to promote just parts.

Serif Vs. Sans- The Final Battle.
Infographic – Serif Vs. Sans- The Final Battle.

Adding References

A really good infographic will be shared by people when the data presented is credible. You have to be able to add sources. If possible, the infographic can also include clickable URLs. When you create your infographic, you have access to data that is taken from different sources. The designer receives the data and should also receive the source of that data so that it can be added right at the bottom of the infographic. At the same time, it is great to add some sort of code that can be used for embedding the infographic but that is done by the webmaster, not by the designer. Learn more about adding sources here.

PR And Distribution

As already stated, many think that a good infographic will basically promote itself. This is not the case. After you finish that perfect infographic, you need to distribute it. That is not as easy as you may believe right not.

The designer is not responsible for the promotion but it is important to understand at least the basics. You have to basically realize where your target audience is found online. That is where the infographic should be promoted. If it is well designed, you will be able to have it become viral.

Summing Up

There are various things that were mentioned above and it is quite difficult to take them all in. Infographics are basically available all around the world and they surround us. Some elements are even used in billboard ads.

A designer that wants to specialize in infographics needs to also have some sort of marketing training. This is because he/she needs to realize how to create visual elements that would aid the promotion of the image that is created. This is a lot easier said than done!

When you are asked to create an infographic, it is very important that you take the necessary time to ask all the questions you need answers to. This mainly means that you have to look at the target audience. As a simple example, in the event that you need to create an infographic for 20 year old men, everything would be different than when comparing with 40 year old women.

When you receive the content that is to be added to the infographic you create, you have to always think about whether or not it will be good. While you are paid for adding that data and creating the images, success is highly dependent on the data that you receive. If you think that the data is not suitable, you have to let the client know. That is why the work of the professional infographic web designer is difficult.

At the same time, you have to be sure that you ask about how the infographics will be promoted. That is necessary since you have to be aware of how to create the infographic in a way that is suitable, based on all the factors that were mentioned above. Have patience and always ask for enough time so that you can create something that is perfect!

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Why “Just Write” Is the Best Writing Advice You’ll Ever Get

When I first started out as a professional writer, I read every resource I could grab on the subject. As I read, read, and read some more, I noticed that one piece of advice kept cropping up: “If you want to become a writer, just write.”

At first, I thought, well, that’s not very helpful. Obviously, writing is what writers do. Besides, that doesn’t tell me anything about how to be a better writer. If writing is that simple, then everyone who does it for a living should be bestselling authors by now, right?

But the more I thought about it, and the more I wrote, the more it made sense to “just write”. Over the course of my writing career so far, I realized:

(Writing) Theory is Nothing without Application

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that you completely ditch “How to Write” books, articles, and the like in favor of mindlessly tapping away at your keyboard all day. Trying to write without a solid grasp of the basics is like trying to swim without knowing how to float and hold your breath underwater.

via Ed Gregory

Still, you can’t spend time reading about writing without actually writing. Otherwise, what did you do all that reading for?

Writing Rules Can Be Broken

To me, writing “rules” are more guidelines than dogma. While it’s true that the likes of the passive voice, long sentences, and adverbs can weaken your writing, there are written works that incorporate all of those into their prose, and still turn out great anyway. Case in point: Stephen King once chided J.K. Rowling for her overuse of adverbs, but that never stopped her from becoming one of the world’s most beloved and influential authors.

Of course, in order to pull that off, you need to have a complete mastery over the “rules” first before you even think about breaking them. And, in my opinion, that level of mastery is achievable only if you practice good writing habits on a regular basis.

No Two Creative Processes Are Exactly the Same

I usually write first thing in the morning, after drinking a cup of coffee and taking a nice, warm bath. I consider these habits as part of my creative process, since they help prepare me for a long day of turning my jumbled thoughts into coherent prose.

But I’d never go out and tell any writer who cares to listen that “Hey, this is what I do before I write, so you should do it too!” I recognize that what may work for me may not work for other writers. Sure, there may be writers who also write in the morning after drinking a cup of coffee and taking a nice, warm bath, but I’m also positive there are writers who do none of that, and still churn out great work anyway.

It doesn’t matter whether your creative process resembles another writer’s or not. What matters is that, regardless of how you prepare for the act of writing, you’re still able to write, and able to write well.

“Good” Writing is highly Subjective

Pick a book – any book – from sites like Amazon and Goodreads. Chances are it’s rated 5-star, 4-star, 3-star, 2-star, and 1-star – all at the same time!

It’s ridiculous, right? How can one book be both above-par and sub-par?

The thing is, the concept of “good writing” is subjective. Sure, there are universal criteria for “bad writing”, such as poor grammar and syntax, but for the most part, your readers’ individual preferences will affect how they perceive your work. In other words, it’s pointless to try to please everyone.

Instead, think of a specific person who will benefit the most from your writing, and write only for that person. You’ll be surprised at how your work will turn out.

Starting Is the Hardest Part of Writing

Actually, starting is the hardest part of anything.

According to this article, the human brain does a funny thing when confronted with a Jupiter-sized project: It automatically visualizes all the possible ways your project can go wrong, so it attempts to “simulate” productivity by filling (read: wasting) your time with small tasks. (“Oh, my first draft is due tomorrow? Wait, I need to check my email first…”)

To avoid that, you need to plunge into your project from the get-go. Once you get going, you’ll have this uncontrollable urge to finish no matter what, in accordance with the Zeigarnik effect. As the Nike slogan goes: “Just Do It”.

You Can’t Be “Good” If you’re Not “Bad” First

You might say: “But what if I try to write, and all I come up with is a pile of crud?” To that, I say this: “Well, improving on a pile of crud is easier than improving on a pile of nothing.”

When you’re writing the first draft, you’re at the point where you’re still trying to transform all your research and ideas into words. Naturally, you’ll end up with something that may need some extra polishing, or even a whole rewrite. If you think about it, that’s marginally better than trying to “polish” a blank page.

Bottom line: You can’t learn to do something well, if you don’t try to do it at all.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received? Let us know in the comments section.

Blogging Advice: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

via Elnur

Ever had this experience where, after reading a bunch of blogging advice on the Internet, you just stare blankly at your computer screen and say: “Huh?”

It’s not that you didn’t understand the advice. It’s just that the so-called blogging “experts” can’t seem to agree on the do’s and don’ts of professional blogging.

One expert will say: “Blog about what you love, be active on social media, and everything will fall into place!” Another will say: “No, you don’t need a blog; you need to do this and that instead.”

Not that conflicting opinions are bad, per se. It’s good that a lot of people want to give a more rounded view on a subject like blogging. However, this can be confusing for you if you’re still trying to get your feet wet in a pool as overcrowded as the blogosphere.

If reading two or more articles on the same blogging topic often makes you want to scratch your head, here are a few questions you can ask to decide whether an article is worth a click on, the “Bookmark” button or the “Back” button.

Is The Advice Evergreen?

“Evergreen” means that the advice will be just as applicable five, ten, or even twenty years from now as it is today. For example, Michael Poh’s “Journalism For Blogging: 6 Things to Consider” will always be timely, because it talks about basic but essential principles that every blogger should keep in mind if they want their content to be worthwhile – no matter the topic, target audience, and time period.

Now, this is not to say that articles with a “trending now” or “technology” element can’t be evergreen. It’s still possible for a piece that incorporates those elements to be evergreen, as long as it gives an insightful explanation on why those elements worked (or not) in the context of the article (e.g. how Flappy Bird became an overnight sensation before fizzling out, and what lessons developers and marketers alike can learn from it).

Does The Author Provide Concrete Examples To Support Points?

Any “expert” can say that “blogging is a great way to make quick cash”. From a common sense perspective, it’s easy to believe that argument (which is quite questionable, by the way). After all, you only need a computer, an Internet connection, and an ability to string words together to get a blog up and running, right?

But, unless that “expert” can provide substantial evidence (e.g. real-life success story) to prove that blogging is in the beginner mode of the money generating game, it’s best if you take that argument with a grain of salt.

Even if the “expert” does have evidence, it’s possible for this to be exaggerated – or worse, fabricated – due to the open nature of the Internet. If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of an author’s evidence, it won’t hurt to do a bit of background research (e.g. Googling the subject, browsing forums, asking your more knowledgeable and trustworthy colleagues) before you come to any definite conclusions.

(On that note, if anyone claims to have a “magic pill” to your blogging woes, be skeptical. Blogs require vision, dedication, and hard work to maintain, and anyone who says otherwise is probably trying to sell you snake oil. Probably.)

What’s the author’s purpose for writing the article?

Anyone who talks about blogging online does so for a number of reasons, such as (1) a desire to inform; (2) a desire to entertain; (3) a desire to persuade; (4) a need to meet a specific daily/weekly/monthly quota of content; and (5) a need to promote a product or service.

The key is to identify which of these is the author’s main objective. Once you figure that out, you can decide for yourself whether the author’s words are worth considering or not.

For example, a post on the “20 Ways to Promote Your Blog” may offer solid tips, but if it includes any promotion for products/services, it may actually be an advertorial. In case you decide to buy any of these products/services, make sure you search for objective reviews on them first. After all, it’s best to get your money’s worth, right?

Can You Make The Advice Work For You?

On the flip side, it’s possible for an article like “The Ultimate Guide to Promoting Your Blog via E-Newsletter” to be well-written, detailed, and insightful, yet still be “bad”. How?

Simple: It’s not (yet) applicable to you. You may already have a blog, but not enough subscribers to warrant the effort you need to put into crafting those newsletters.

A few more words of (unsolicited) advice

The truth is, there’s no such thing as “good” or “bad” blogging advice, at least not in the strictest sense of those words. There’s only advice that is prone to misinterpretation and misapplication. Whether the words of an “expert” will affect you positively or negatively will depend on various factors, like where you want to go as a blogger, your perception of where you are vis-à-vis where you want to be, how realistic your expectations are of what it takes to get from point A to point B, and how “expert” advice will fit in with all of that.

For More Blogging Related Posts

Sage Advice from The Chef Says: Bite-sized words of wisdom from the industry’s best cooks

Sage Advice from The Chef Says

A continuation in a “Words of Wisdom” series that has already delivered the compelling “The Designer Says” and “The Filmmaker Says,” Princeton Architectural Press is now offering insight from within one of the most-consumed but perhaps least considered arts: cooking. “Continue Reading…

Cool Hunting

New site gives bite-sized career advice from top designers

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Grab some all-important inspiration with these tiny interviews

Creative Bloq

Want to create your own typeface? Follow this advice

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Can’t find the right typeface? Why not consider creating your own? We chatted to Slovakian graphic and typeface designer Peter Biľak, based in The Hague, Netherlands, and he shared his tips and advice for designers creating typefaces.

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Designing websites for children – expert advice

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Every site needs to be designed with an audience in mind, and designing for children is no exception.The first thing you need to consider is age and gender. For example, one of the bigger challenges in designing a website for seven to 12-year-olds is ensuring that the youngest boys, who don’t like to read, are as enthralled by the site as tween girls, who are probably already using Twitter.

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If you use digital typography you need this advice

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This is the perfect handbook for typographers and developers alike

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Designing With Circles: Tips and Advice

circle design

Once shunned by designers, circles seem to be making a comeback. The perfectly round shape – and its oblong counterparts – can be difficult to work with. The shape does not stack as well as the more standard rectangle and creates a much different overall feel.

The circle is a perfect shape, meaning that it is the same no matter how you look at it. It is complete and in harmony with nature – consider how many natural elements are circle-based. So, as a designer, how can you make circles work for you?

Basic Circles

Circles are familiar and safe. What’s inside a circle is “protected” from the outside and what’s outside a circle can be restricted from getting close to a circle’s contents. The shape is interesting and a point of attraction.

These are all great reasons for considering the use of circles in design. But circles can also be tough to handle because they can create odd spaces and may not work well with other design elements. The use of a circular theme must be well-planned, designed and executed.

In addition to the traditional circle, we are also beginning to see more rounded shapes in general in design projects. Oblong shapes, almost-rectangles with dramatically curved edges – these elements all take on meanings of their own. So we will focus on the perfect ring and its recent popularity in design projects.

Meanings of Circles

circle design
circle design

There are many associations connected to circles. They are fluid, and connected to movement and mobility (think about the wheel). Because circles are a part of the natural world – the shape of the moon, flowers, fruit – the object is considered real and represents life.

In addition the curves of a circle can be comforting and are associated with energy, power, harmony and infinity.

As designers, we are all very used to seeing the color wheel, one of the most recognizable circles in the design world. It works because it combines all the traits above to create an object that communicates information in a simple, powerful, harmonious way. Circles are complete and create emphasis.

Circles in Web Design

circle design
circle design

Circles, once seldom used in web design, are becoming a more popular option. (Years ago it was difficult to create rounded shapes in CSS, but that is no longer the case.) So what are some attributes of a great website design featuring circles?

They are often used in one of five ways:

As a dominant shape or frame.

Rather than rectangle for images, some designers are using circles. Circles may also be used for logos or buttons. While a circle can create interest, it can create a dilemma when it comes to cropping and space. Does the image fit inside the circle? (Cameras don’t take round photos.) Do the circles have enough room to stand on their own so images are not jumbled? Circles as frames are most popular in portfolio design, to show a “slice” of work without showing the whole thing.

As user interface elements.

A round button is a familiar thing. You know to push (or click) it to make a selection, making circles a popular choice for calls to action. Circular UI elements are most popular when used sparingly.

As a background.

Because of the innate harmony associated with the shape, circles are easy to use as a background pattern. They create a sense of flow and calmness. Circular backgrounds can also help bring focus to the elements they surround, such as an icon that lives within a circle.

As a graphic information tool.

Circles are a common tool to show how things are both different and similar based on the notion of where shapes overlap. This is a common tool for showing different types of data and information.

To create interest.

Sometimes the whole idea behind using a circle is just to be different and make something stand out from the crowded landscape. Circles are a great way to create visual interest. But be careful, using too many circles can create a look of instability or chaos because every element is begging to be seen.

Circles In User Interface Elements

circle design
circle design

As user interface tools, circles seem to work best when used as part of an overall minimalistic design scheme. They need room to breathe, be identified and make sense to users. When used in this way, circles can be a nice alternative other types of navigation.

Take Gravitate Design, for example. Circles are used for one distinct purpose – to navigate left and right. All of the other buttons are rectangle. What the circles do here is show that you interact with the site in a way different than you might expect. (In this case the site scrolls up and down but also panels side-to-side.)

Zervice also uses circles for buttons and navigation but in a much different way. Left-hand navigation uses “push-buttons” to get you from one page to the next. In addition the site features circles to house all of the text against a busy backdrop, so you know exactly where on the screen to focus.

Circles in Apps and Mobile Design

circle design
circle design

Circles in apps can be a lot of fun as well. I am currently addicted to Hundreds, which is a game of nothing but circles. And the game has practical application for designing with circles – they need space to work well. In the game, circles of different sizes move on the screen; if they touch, you lose. It’s the same idea with design. Circles need their own space to be most functional.

Using circles on smaller screens though can present a challenge. They have to be big enough to read or see with ease and if a circle doubles as a button, it must be large enough to tap.

Buza uses circles as buttons for sales. They are large and isolated, making them an easy place to click (or tap).

Circles in Other Projects

circle design

Circles are also a popular choice for logos and shapes on business cards. (This is not surprising since we see many of the same trends concurrently in digital and print design.)

The same reasons for using, or not using, circles apply to printed projects. But there is one additional consideration… printing. Unlike digital projects that are confined within a rectangular screen, you can actually create and design for a circular medium.

Flyers, stickers, cards and other materials that are cut to shape have the extra value of being different when used in a more unconventional way. This can bring extra attention to the project at hand.

Just be aware of what is inside the circle. Remember the shape is designed to contain something. Make sure the shape and visual imagery and words all create a unified message. This works in very much the same way as using circles as frames for images in digital projects.


So how do you get started with circles? There are a ton of great resources out there to help you imagine the possibilities, including one of my favorites, Creative VIP.

Not only does Creative VIP use plenty of circles in its design and interface, it is a gateway to great tools for designers. Right now, you can find great collections of circular icons, templates for app design featuring circles, landing page templates using rings, round sliders and even a few badges. (I am a member and love this resource, even if for nothing more than inspiration.)

Good luck getting started in circular design!

Image Sources: Life in My Shoes, Project Green, Janko at Warp Speed, We Love to Code and Creative Sweet Business Cards.

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