I’m Dani Ward,

and I do lots of things.

Graphic Design

As a part of the graphic design community, I often have thoughts about design practices, client communication, content strategy, web development, and other miscellaneous things that, for the purposes of my writing, will fall under the extremely broad category of “graphic design.”

It’s dangerous to go alone. Take these!

It’s absolutely no secret that I’m a giant Legend of Zelda nerd. I’ve even worked on fan art in the past, based on Majora’s Mask and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. But recently, I wanted to create a more universal design that would broadly encapsulate so much of the franchise. I’d initially began a rough sketch of this idea…

Icon Graphics Website

I’m very proud of the work I put into the Icon Graphics site redesign. Some of the strategy options weren’t implemented for various reasons, but the process of planning and organizing and writing and designing for such a large project, along with helping to oversee the progress and ensure quality, was a process that helped me grow as a designer, writer, and web professional.

Booklet or Magazine Mock-Up Now Available

Created from scratch, an open spread and a magazine cover for use mocking up items for your portfolio or a client presentation.

Using smart objects, I’ve created a high-resolution open booklet or magazine template (sized 8.5″ x 11″) that can display an interior spread and front cover. You can even remove the staples if you like (if, for instance, your publication was saddle-stitched or perfect-bound). All you have to do is paste your 300dpi 8.5″ x 11″ page into one of 6 specific smart objects, and you’re good to go for your portfolio or client presentation.

New in the Portfolio: Web, Lettering, and Print Items

After putting it off for far too long, I’ve added several pieces — old and new — to my portfolio. As you can see, my work spans a wide range: logo development, hand-lettering and calligraphy, web design, copywriting, brochure design, ad design, and self-mailers. I love my job, and I’m so proud of the work I get to create for such a wide variety of clients and even for my own artistic drive. Hope you enjoy!

There Are No Strings On Me: From Sketch to Vector

Calligraphy swashes of the phrase "there are no strings on me," written with frayed rope.

Last year, when Avengers: Age of Ultron came out on Bluray, my brother came over to watch the film at my house. While watching, I suddenly had an idea for a lettering project: I wanted to draw the phrase Ultron seems obsessed with throughout the movie (which is, of course, from Pinocchio): “There are no strings on me.” My thought was to use lots of swashes and embellishments, then finally ink it with my flex nib dip pen.

I ended up vectoring the piece, but was unsatisfied with the first finalization. I sat on it for several months, then decided to rework it after reading Jessica Hische‘s fantastic book, In Progress. The final result is something I can say I’m quite proud of.

Humans Vs. Robots in the Fight for SEO

When it comes to writing content for your website, there are 2 main schools of thought seemingly at odds with one another. Many argue that you should focus on the people reading your content and forget about search engine optimization entirely. They suggest a heavy focus on loading your writing with keywords makes your content too stiff and difficult to understand, resulting in a disconnect from your visitors. But others insist the goal ought to be to focus on search engine robots crawling your site through loading your content with keywords. Their reasoning is that people can’t find your site if search engines don’t, making SEO of utmost importance. In short, the former focuses on human connection; the latter focuses on data alone.

But what if there doesn’t have to be a fight? What if content managed to be good while taking both humans androbots into consideration? What would that look like? What guidelines might inform how you write?

Read more over at Iconography!

Design Constraints

A good design is driven by needs and defined by constraints. ~Astik Pant

A good design is driven by needs and defined by constraints. ~Astik Pant

As designers, there are always limitations to consider when we start a new project. A client’s needs are the number one priority driving the design, but there are always a number of design constraints that affect how we as designers approach crafting a solution.

Some design constraints are physical. Paper and ad size limits (or file size limits for web work) affect the physical structure of a design.

Some design constraints are a little more indirect. For example, a project’s timeline informs the amount of time we have to spend creating the final product.

Some design constraints are a mixture of the two. Client budget affects the amount of time a designer has to complete the project, along with things like the number of colors to print and whether the design can bleed off the page.

All of these stipulations change how we work on a design, from the time we spend on it to the colors, typefaces, and graphics we use to communicate our client’s message. Creating a good design within these constraints takes a lot of training and a lot of practice.

But at the end of the day, as good designers, we work with our clients to deliver the best possible solution, no matter the design constraints.

On speaking clearly.

Many of us work in specialized industries that all have a unique vocabulary. Since we spend 8 hours of our day working in these unique environments, it’s easy to assume anyone you’re talking to understands your everyday language. But chances are your customers, vendors, clients, and users don’t have the same level of education and experience in your field that you do. Using industry-insider jargon can quickly alienate people you’re trying to reach.

If you want to positively impact your audience, speaking clearly is incredibly important. Here are a few things to keep in mind during your next interaction with someone outside your business.