Sometimes I get stuck and experience a blank mind in the middle of a design. I’d get to work and clock in, start up Photoshop, and realize I don’t even know what the content of this specific layout should be. Maybe I actually do know what the content is but I just can’t figure out how to make it look resolved.

If it’s the former then there is a flaw in your strategy(which I hope you have one to being with.) To fix this you need to have a better foundation for the project. Before ever starting up Photoshop you need to have solid information about every aspect of the project. A good way to do this is by holding a creative brainstorming meeting before the project is kicked off. I talk about creative brainstorming meetings in this post. You also need to interrogate the client. The information you can get from them is vital to making the project successful.

If you already have a solid start for your project then congratulations! You’ve been able to think through important questions that you then asked the client. With the answers, you were able to create a set of tangible goals which help guide you through the entire project no matter what task you’re completing. The details of tasks won’t be an issue since you had the goals of the project in mind while you were creating them. Keep those goals in mind at all times through out the project. This will help keep your solutions on track and make your project much more successful. Print them out and hang them up somewhere around your desk if you have to!

What if you do have all that information but you just don’t know what to do for the design itself? There are a few reasons why you could be experiencing this. The first reason that comes to mind for me is fatigue. You’ve been sitting at your computer working all day and five o’ clock is quickly rolling around the corner. Stand up and walk around for five minutes. Go outside and enjoy the fact that you’re alive! You don’t have to get existential with it like I do. Just take some deep breathes and be conscious of your surroundings. Sometimes in these moments is when I realize the solution to my problems, whether work related or not. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your project manager what he thinks about the situation. Be honest and let him know that you’re not sure what to do for this layout.

Another way to combat the rut is to ask why and then follow up with the question of how and what. Why are you creating a layout for this specific need? Maybe it’s to show of your beautiful products to your customers with the end goal of them buying something. How can you do that? By using both high quality imagery and giving the customer just enough information within a resolved layout they will go further into your site, thus closer to a purchase. Now what’s the best way to do that? This is the final question that needs to be answered which ends up being what you design out. Turns out design is all about problem solving and not being an artist after all. The difference between us and artists is that we have constraints.

Creativity thrives in constraints! Belle Cooper has written a great article on creativity and how useful constraints are.