Becoming more detail oriented

Hi, I am a fairly new designer. I have a job where I do a lot of packaging design.
My boss says I need to be more detail oriented.
Does anyone have any advice, tricks or exercises as to how I can master this?

Being “detail oriented” isn’t really something you can master. You just have to work at it. One way I’ve found that helps improve your attention to detail as a designer is to question everything, especially your own decisions.

When you place an element, ask yourself:

  • Why am I putting it here?
  • Should it be aligned with something else?
  • Is this a good size for it? Why?
  • Where does it belong in the hierarchy?
  • What shapes are the spaces I’m creating?
  • How can I justify this decision? The last 10 decisions?
  • etc.

If you’ve ever had your work picked apart by someone, questions like those I listed above are what they were asking. You must learn to think like one of those jerks who think they’ve thought of everything you haven’t considered, so you can beat them to the punch. They are the “detail oriented” people.

A good way to exercise that muscle is to start applying that justification requirement to everything you see.

  • Why did they make that knob red instead of yellow, like the rest?
  • Why would they make that sign too small to read from here?
  • Why is it suddenly okay to wear a plaid necktie with a striped shirt like that newsguy on TV?
  • I would have made the bottom of that pedestal round; would that be better? Why?
  • It’s weird how that stays together with only one screw; how’d they do that?

See what I mean?

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“The devil is in the details.”

That means tiny overlooked details can lead to giant mistakes. Expensive giant mistakes.

Once a coworker made a simple error in sorting an excel file, and it cost the company $40,000.

Hotbutton’s advice is great. So I would just add, if you tend to work fast, force yourself to slow down and take enough time to proof and check the details.

Fear is our friend. :wink:

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Ask for frank critiques from peers working in graphic design. They’ll point out the tiny errors and inconsistencies that others will miss.

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Slow down. Check. Check again with fresh eyes. Try proofing in different ways. For example, for packaging, make sure you print out and create mockups each step of the way.

Also, ask your boss if they can think of anything in particular that you need to focus more on.

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When proofreading for typos, read backwards. Bottom up and right to left. That doesn’t allow your brain to assume. Then read it forward one more time to catch the “they’re, their, there”-type errors.

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That’s actually a great idea. I think I’m going to incorporate that into my proofing toolkit. Thanks @PrintDriver!

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