Designing for myself is something that I have struggled with my entire design career. Currently, I have my three personal projects that I have designed for myself. My portfolio website, my “grog log” website Mai Tai Across America, and most recently the invites and a website for my fiancé and I’s wedding. Each with their own unique challenges.

Here are some tips that have helped me when designing for myself:

Don’t be so Hard on Yourself

Second guessing designs, indecision on direction, and striving for perfection. You are your toughest client, you hold yourself to a higher standard. Sometimes it’s good to aim for progress over perfection.

When I was struggling with a logo for Mai Tai Across America, I ended up putting a simplified logo as a placeholder. After some time to think about it, I then came back to it six months later and was able to knockout a logo that I am proud of.

Outline your Goal

Whether it’s a website, promotional materials, or just a fun art project. What is your end goal for the project? By determining your goal you can then plan how to achieve it. Set out what elements and items you will need and plan the steps a for accomplishing the project.

For my portfolio website I needed to start by creating a brand for myself. Logo first, then came the business cards, which helped drive how the website would look. Taking this stepped approach helped progress the project along.

Make a Schedule

Schedule time for your own work. Intermittently working on a project here and there will only cause more problems and will likely take you longer than it would if you set aside time for it in the first place.

If you don’t have time put it aside but don’t forget about it, especially if it’s a public website, be careful it doesn’t looks incomplete.

This is an issue I still have with the Mai Tai Across America website. Much of the content on the website appears unfinished. Only when I schedule in time to work on the website I am able to get more accomplished on the website.

Start with a Design

Often when starting a personal website I will just jump right into building the site using a basic WordPress theme and figure I will design on the fly. But I find if I do not start with at least a sketch I will just keep spinning my wheels.

Treat yourself like your would a client. Do the same things you would do for a client, whatever you need to do to get the project rolling. Create thumbnails, sketches, mood boards and designs mockups before you settle on one.

For my wedding invites and website I made a Pinterest mood board then some simple sketches that then made everything else fall into place.

Get Some Advice

Get another set of eyes to critique your designs. If you have a fellow designer around have them take a look at your work.

Occasionally, I find myself too close to a personal project that I get in a rut. When that happens I have run my personal design work by Creative Director. He often can help with ideas that I might not have thought of.


How do you handle projects when design for yourself?