7 Habits of Highly Effective Designers

Posted by Zoë DiGiorgio on 8/26/16 11:16 AM  |  6 min read time

When you’ve been designing for years, it’s easy to pick up some bad habits that can slow down your workflow. Increase your productivity and avoid obstacles by reflecting on these tried-and-true tips from some of the most prolific Vectorworks software users.

1. Start with a Sketch

With so many design ideas bouncing around your head at the beginning of a project, getting started can sometimes be the hardest part. Before fleshing out his designs, furniture designer Forest Dickey of Varian Designs begins his projects the old-fashioned way: with a sketch. He then uploads his sketches into Vectorworks software to refine the details in a 3D model.

“The flexibility allows me to finely tune the details of each piece,” Dickey says.

Learn more about Dickey’s unique furniture designs by reading his case study.

2. Communicate with Your Clients

It’s sometimes hard to know exactly what your client wants, which can result in unsatisfactory project outcomes. That’s why Australian landscape architecture and urban design firm McGregor Coxall believes in constantly involving their clients throughout every phase of a project’s development to ensure that their needs are met. In one case, McGregor Coxall’s client was essentially the entire city of Parramatta when the firm was tasked with redesigning the community’s riverfront into a new, sustainable commercial district.

Waterfront Courtesy of McGregor Coxall

“We’re working with the community and the stakeholders to create a very broad, deep conversation with the city as a whole,” said Managing Director Adrian McGregor. "We even developed our own web software called ‘yourplan’ to engage with citizens and communities on our projects.”

Find out more about how McGregor Coxall worked with their community by reading their case study.

3. Be Flexible

You never know what hurdles will surface with a project, so it’s good to remain flexible and be able to devise solutions in a pinch. When it comes to adjusting projection designs on the fly for live broadcasts or exhibitions, Lighting Designer Christien Methot impresses clients with his adaptability.

“When they said, ‘Oh how about this?’ the answer was, ‘No problem. Give me an hour.’ I feel so comfortable with the software, I just say, ‘Give me an hour,’ as opposed to a week,” he says.

Learn more about Methot’s illuminating design process here.

4. Visualize Your Design

The better you can visualize your final project, the easier it will be to make it a reality. Architect Michael Timcheck of the M Group Architects & Interior Architects always keeps this in mind when designing. When he was tasked with designing an exciting new façade and lobby for food service provider Thompson Hospitality, Timcheck used 3D walkthroughs to better visualize the space he was creating.

Entryway Courtesy of The M Group

“Being able to walk through a space helps me understand where I have issues; you can’t always catch hiccups in 2D,” he says.

Learn more about M Group’s “zero ego” approach to design in their case study.

5. Be Detailed

The more detailed your designs are, the easier it will be to sell your client on your project. When converting a former bookstore into a space for the Florida Orthopaedic Institute, ROJO Architecture knew how important it was to create highly detailed renderings to ensure they’d have a happy client.

"The better we can show our designs, the better we can sell them," said ROJO Cofounder and Principal Rob Glisson. "And it works." With fully developed presentations, he adds that their client meetings are 95 percent successful.

Learn more about how ROJO Architects created a welcoming space in their case study.

6. Work Smarter, Not Harder

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel with every design project when there are shortcuts at your fingertips to increase efficiency and save you time. Landscape architecture firm Pacific Coast Land Design (PCLD) had to provide water budget calculations for the revitalization of the Main Street in the historic “Wild West” town of Newhall, California, which is when they were able to make use of modern software tools to save valuable time.

“We can input all of our data into our worksheet and use smart calculations in Vectorworks Landmark to do all the budgeting for us. We don’t have to update figures individually; everything happens with the click of a button,” said PCLD Principal Mike Zielsdorf.

See how PCLD combined the old and new in Newhall by reading their case study.

7. Less is More

Switching between multiple programs can jam up your workflow. Philadelphia-based landscape architecture firm LRSLAstudio, now Ground Reconsidered, are firm believers that getting your designs together in one program can help create a more fluid workflow.

559_original Courtesy of LRSLAstudio/Ground Reconsidered

“Modeling and working through the plan in one design software program saved us so much time,” said Designer Lindsay High Stanislaw. “Sometimes, using fewer programs can be really helpful.”

Have a ball learning about how Ground Reconsidered turned a park into a playground here.

Have a helpful design tip of your own? Share your story with us by emailing news@vectorworks.net and you could be featured in an upcoming blog post.

Topics: BIM (Architecture), BIM (Landscape), Production & Lighting Design, News

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