The creative energy was palpable this past weekend as more than a thousand creative professionals descended upon Boston for HOW Design Live. The four conferences were packed full of events geared towards pushing your creativity and thoughts on design to new heights.

Process Refinement

One of the most stressful and time-consuming aspects of being a designer is the roadblock. One minute you’re designing the most brilliant, creative piece ever made and the next you’re staring at the wall without a single inspiring thought in your head. It’s inevitable and it always happens when a deadline is fast approaching. Kody Chamberlain discussed many of his unconventional, yet effective techniques to power through these moments in Cranking the Creative Trebuchet. His methods include collateral thinking, oscillating sketchbooks, and making clay. These techniques may seem odd, but completely ignoring the problem at hand is usually the best solution. In A Technique for Producing Ideas, James Webb Young states that the best ideas are realized when you are cooking a meal or taking a shower. By stepping away from the problem, you give your brain the time it needs to mull it over and find an effective solution.

Specialty Printing Techniques

Standard 5 by Sappi Fine Paper Sappi Fine Paper produced, Standard 5, a showcase of amazing printing effects. Foil stamping, glow-in-the-dark phosphorescent inks, holographic foil, glitter UV, flocking, and reticulated varnishes are just a few of the special effects that can be easily prepared on a conventional press. Unusual printing effects can help differentiate your company’s brand and messaging. These techniques can take a simple printed piece and turn it into an intriguing, tactile experience that can get you noticed and talked about.

Web Design for Every Screen

I totally agree with Patrick McNeil’s comments on how responsive web design has become the most challenging trend in the web design industry right now. The term responsive simply refers to a website adapting to multiple screen resolutions based on a fluid grid system. A good web designer should constantly be trying out new techniques to enhance the user-experience across all platforms. With a responsive site, it is best to work backwards by starting with the mobile device version, and then designing for the larger desktop version. Web designers are becoming developers, as well. By knowing simple HTML/CSS, the design and development process moves quicker because web designers do not need to collaborate with development partners.

It’s important to constantly learn and implement new design techniques to stay competitive. A website that adapts to your mobile device, a business card that changes color when held, or a brochure that glows-in-dark will differentiate a brand from the competition and will interest and engage your customers.