Alex Sailer

Learning To Be D.R.Y.


As designers, our work revolves around time. How much time it takes for us to achieve a certain result is at the very core of what we do. In a world that wants everything ASAP, we have to find ways to save time and cutting time on repetitive tasks will do just that. It used to be that every time I’d open up Photoshop to start designing a website I’d create the same document and layout the same grid structure over and over again. It was part of my routine, extremely easy, and no one told me otherwise. I’d bet some of you reading this have a few tasks that you find yourself doing over and over, too. Starting now, I challenge you all to become D.R.Y designers.

D.R.Y., or Don’t Repeat Yourself, has been around for quite sometime in the software development industry and can get a little complicated in how it’s achieved. For design, we’ll take it quite literally. It’s going to manifest itself differently for each designer because we all have unique processes but the mantra should apply to everyone.

Take a moment to reflect on your own process. A process is defined as a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end. I’m sure some, if not all of those actions or steps, are repeated every time you go through your personal process. If the nature of a process is repetition then we need to make sure those repetitive actions happen as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Makes sense right? Well, take it a step further. Break down each step of your process into smaller steps and potentially even smaller steps. These small steps are where you can actually put the D.R.Y methodology into effect. Remember that example I mentioned earlier about repeatedly opening up Photoshop to create a document and grid structure? Well, I cut that task out by creating a series of Photoshop actions for common document sizing and grid structures that I use. Now, instead of a few minutes, that task takes only a few seconds.

The time saved in that example isn’t huge but over a period of time it becomes noticeable. Now think about applying small time-saving techniques on other repetitive tasks in your process. See what I’m getting at?

I’m no master at this and I’m still working to apply it to my entire process. In doing so, I’ve found it extremely helpful to talk with other designers about how they’ve cut out repetitive tasks from their process. So, if you have any techniques you’d like to share I’d love to hear them!

Stay D.R.Y people!

PS–Grab those photoshop actions I mentioned HERE.

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