Use Stock Images and Resource Websites for more efficient design

Designing with Efficiency in 3 Steps – Redux

In late 2017, we published a blog post about efficiency while designing in an agency world. Here are ways we’ve improved that efficiency and some new things we’ve learned.


Designers are many things: They are creative; They are intuitive; They are organized; But sometimes they are inefficient. However as a designer, there are plenty of resources available and many, many ways to step up your work flow. Here are three excellent practices to achieve more efficient design.

1: Don’t Reinvent the Wheel

Let’s face it, there are only so many ways to design an animated display ad, and only so many options when it comes to conveying a client’s message via social media. The odds are someone, maybe even you, has already used the concept you are attempting to convey. Don’t try to invent the wheel when it is already rolling around you. Do research and brainstorm ways to build upon existing elements and combine them with original ideas to develop a masterpiece. Use Behance to research design trends. Use Shutterstock or other stock image websites to compile elements. Use the resources available to you and save time.

What We’ve Learned: As an agency we create a LOT of ads. Efficiently repurposing old, often unused concepts to fit a client’s needs is the only way to efficiently get a project out the door sometimes. We brainstorm ways to improve our creative for our clients on a monthly basis. Often what comes from these meetings is the idea that we’ve done something similar for a different client, so we should use a similar concept in a different vertical or a different market. This process helps provide the best end product for our client in the least amount of time.

2: Use the Resources Available to You

Sometimes the perfect picture to use in your ad isn’t convenient to take yourself. Often it is quicker, cheaper, and more efficient to buy the photo or vector resource you need rather than generate that content yourself. There are a ton of resources you can use to do this. Websites like Envato are an enormous time saver in a world where deadlines exist. Taking a template and making it your own will often be more efficient than arriving at the same design after spending hours coding or designing it from scratch. All it takes to create great original content from these resources is some ingenuity.

What We’ve Learned: Since this blog post was published in 2017, Envato has expanded on a massive scale. They’ve introduced everything from free stock video to web templates, even sound and music. Making use of this has made our lives so much easier. Additionally, we have hired a social media designer with photography experience to shoot on-site photography because, sometimes, the real thing is so much better.

3: Use Your Creativity

In the end creativity reigns supreme. Combining what you know, what you have, and what you want will result in the best end product. Be efficient, organized, and put in the time. Know what you want to do before you ever open an editing program. Once you’ve done your research, found past examples to work from, and gathered all the resources for the project, put your mind and the skills you have to work. Once you’re finished, you and your client will be satisfied with your design.

What We’ve Learned: We foster a culture of continuous improvement, and we do so with monthly creative team meetings, monthly out-of-work-hours brainstorm sessions for our clients, and a constant drive to make the best work possible. We have improved as designers over the past two years, and we will continue to do so.

You don’t have to work harder to come up with an engaging piece of creative for your client. Look for inspiration and premade elements you can use to connect your ideas. Turn an eight hour project into one hour by living by the cliché: work smarter, not harder.