All posts by Andre le Roux

My name is Andre le Roux. I was involved in fine art and art education until about 2000. Since then I've been a graphic designer working primarily via the Web.

Bullshit

Bullshit is a tool you can use in business.

For some people it is an obvious, necessary, unmissable tool and integral to doing business.

For others it is best avoided, unless really necessary to get out of a tight spot or to land a big contract.

And for some it is “no BS” on principle.

I am a skilled bullshitter, but I decided about a decade ago to migrate to the “no BS” group. Since then I have made more money than most people make in a lifetime.

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Stop

When something you are doing is causing you pain, physical or otherwise, you have two options:

1. Stop.

2. Stop complaining.

The same applies to not doing something that might make you happy.

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As Much as Possible

Money? Power?

No.

Responsibility.

You are not responsible only for the bad things you do, but also for every bad thing that you, within reason, could have prevented.

Yes, this is a sermon.

A short one.

The “within reason” part offers a comfortable escape clause. We are quick to tell ourselves that we can’t help everyone. That each one of us is ultimately responsible for him or herself.

Can you be held accountable for people starving in Africa? Of course you can. Whether that’s reasonable or not is your call.

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4 Really Big Web Usability Mistakes

1. You’re trying to sell something, but you make us hunt for the “buy” button. Why not make it big and orange? Why?!

2. I have to create an account before I am allowed to pay you? Think dammit. You sold me. I have my credit card in my hand. Are you really going to now put hurdles in my way?

3. There is no way for us to send you feedback. And I had cool suggestions for improving your site/service/product. I would have given them to you for free.

4. You have a feedback form, but just like your order form it is hidden behind a login. Useful feedback from real users is rare and valuable. If you require a login, expect none.

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Making it Right

If the client is so unhappy that she asks for her money back, then your “no refunds” policy is the last thing she needs. It’s enough to send her off on a campaign to tell people how terrible you are. Over time, that will cost you a lot more than the refund. Have a generous refund policy with no fine print and stick to it. It’s good business.

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Logo Designer’s Checklist

1. Learn from those who can. Check out LogoLounge.com and LogoGround.com. Your personal opinion of what constitutes a “good logo” is unfortunately irrelevant. What counts is what your client thinks and, more importantly, what works in the real world.

2. Do not build a logo design site. Unless you are a marketing genius, creating a logo design site will be a waste of your time. There are many, many thousands of logo design sites that do not make a penny. There are easier ways to sell logos. See the next point.

3. Sign up at sites that allow you to upload logos for sale. See LogoGround.com.

4. Upload 10 good logos a day to those sites. Of course you can make ten good logos a day. (See footnote)

5. Don’t overdo it. Only 10 logos a day. You are not a logo machine. If you try to be one you will hit designer burn-out within a year. Take your time with each logo. Don’t upload anything that you would not proudly display in your portfolio.

6. Don’t give up after a week. Commit to uploading ten logos a day for six months. Every day. Sales will gradually pick up as your logo collection grows. After six months you will have around 1,800 logos up for sale. You’ll be making more money than most big ad agency designers make.

7. Collect good logos. Buy logo books like the LogoLounge series. Always keep looking at logos. If you stop, you will quickly start running in a circle.

8. Get Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw and become an expert in both. If you truly understand every aspect of those two programs you will create better logos in less time. You don’t strictly need both. Adobe’s new software renting scheme is BS and CorelDraw doesn’t run on a Mac. If you have to choose and if you’re on a PC, choose CorelDraw.

9. Don’t try to please everyone.

10. Study Saul Bass, arguably the most successful logo designer in history.

11. Expand your font collection and don’t hesitate to pay for awesome fonts.

12. Driving with the handbrake on is stupid. Poor communication skills will hold you back in the same way. The ability to talk to clients about logos is a required skill. If you are not very experienced or if you have a hard time translating ideas into words, read more. Work at it.

13. Developing a “style” is OK in fine art, but masters of commercial art are not confined by styles.

14. Craftsmanship is underrated in logo design. A craftsman is someone who uses their extensive subject knowledge to hone and refine their output to the point where it cannot be improved further. Aim for brilliant and be proud of every logo you send into the world.

15. Geometric precision matters. The logo you produce might end up on a billboard where sloppy little mistakes become huge eyesores.

16. Study colors. You need to understand the differences between RGB, CMYK, Pantone and HEX colors so that you can use colors correctly and intelligently advise your clients on colors.

17. Take time to learn about printing processes and the different file formats.

18. Respect intellectual property – over and above the minimum legal requirement.

19. Unfair criticism is something every brave creative professional has to deal with. Don’t let it dampen your resolve or inhibit your creativity. Every negative can either be ignored or used to improve your output. You decide which.

20. Be a generous logo designer. Make a meaningful contribution to the art of logo design. Help other designers. Treat clients more than fairly.

Footnote:
Most old-school graphic designers will strongly dislike my 10-logos-a-day suggestion. In their world, big clients pay big money for a team of creative professionals to spend days/weeks to come up with one logo. You are reading a logo designer’s checklist, so I’m guessing that you do not have clients like that. In the real world, where you and I make a living, small businesses need inexpensive logo design options. This is where pre-designed logos shine and where the 10-logos-a-day concept applies.

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Scaling Success

When a business starts to make money, the temptation is to expand, expand, expand. Before you do, take a moment to identify exactly what it is that works. If it is your personal, friendly service and attention to detail, scaling it will be a challenge. Can be done, but it might be better to keep it small and charge more.

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Marketing versus Advertising

Marketing is creating a buzz – and in our connected world where customers can find each other and recommendations can reach millions, creating a buzz is becoming more and more linked to creating a fantastic product or service.

Advertising is marketing that you pay for, the fallback for marketers who are stuck promoting something that isn’t quite buzz-worthy.

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