Designer's block, it's okay to talk about it...

If you are reading this article after a Google search, there is a reasonable chance that you are in a tough place creative-wise at the moment.

Don’t panic! Here are some quick ideas that may help you out of that hole.

So what is ‘Designer’s Block’?

In the urban dictionary, Designer's block is defined as: “When any form of a designer can't come up with creative ideas. Similar to writer's block in the sense that nothing gets done and despair creeps in.


The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one
— Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels), The Newsroom

You are not alone, it happens to us all

Let’s get this one out in the open, It happens! I have been building websites for over 15 years and I tend to go through phases of inspiration/run of the mill. I think the main point is that even if you feel that you do not have an award winner on your hands (not every job can be), it is very likely that your design is fresh and impactful for your client and their audience. I think the most important issue is that you keep questioning your designs before someone else does and that will be half of the battle. When going through a creative dry spell I tend to spend more time on briefing/wireframes and go back to my mini library of brand/design showcases and browse website showcase portfolios. Once I get past the 'this is hopeless, I will never create a top design again' part of the healing process, this usually helps me back into form.


Focus on the easy things

The enemy of those suffering from design block is a blank screen. I’d recommend spending time looking through your library of design resources or getting online and looking at showcase websites (doesn’t have to be a website in the same industry). If you know what content needs to be in the layout, simply drop it into place first and at least you are productive. Just don’t force the design at this stage. This leads me on nicely to the next piece of advice.

Get your priorities in order

A content prioritisation process often helps to focus the mind, if you get the structure 80% complete, inspiration can often creep up on you.

I tend to split the content into 3 tiers as part of this exercise:

Tier 1: Crucial messages/assets, appearing above the traditional fold line (even though the fold line is fluid with responsive design, you could use a small laptop/10" tablet as your initial testing tool).

Tier 2: Important but not crucial information, could include signposting to services, intro, news, social media feeds etc..

Tier 3: Bottom and/or footer section of the homepage. Information that isn't required to appear on the page, could include a repeat of contact details, map, newsletter signup etc..


If these steps don’t work, sometimes there is no better cure for designer’s block that getting away from the screen, going for a long walk and giving yourself some time to think about the project from a problem solving perspective. The most important point to take onboard is the fact that you don’t become a bad designer overnight. To use a well-worn sports metaphor, form is temporary, class is permanent. :)