Big question: what’s the best way to stand out from the crowd?

Elliot Jay Stocks
Creative director, Adobe Typekit

Don't be afraid to tell people about what you've created. Not to boast, but to demonstrate how proud you are of doing something out-of-the-norm. If you've genuinely innovated, people are will want to know about it.

Elliot is a designer and illustrator

Bruce Lawson
Opera’s web evangelist

Never be afraid to speak your mind (if your boss doesn’t like it, you’ve got the wrong job). And wear a pink mohawk.

Bruce Lawson is Opera’s web evangelist

Aral Balkan
Experience designer

If you want to stand out from the crowd, be yourself. The more you try to be like other people, or act like other businesses, the more you will recede into the background noise of the industry. Don’t be afraid to let your own character show in what you do and in how you present yourself. Sure, you won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but you’re not in this to make everyone happy. Be authentic, be honest, be open and you will attract the sort of people you want to work with and have as clients or customers.

Aral is a designer, developer and professional speaker

Matt Gifford

Be proactive and involved in as much as you can manage. In the official working environment, contribute to work discussions, generate ideas that suit the business and the team workflow. Contribute to open source projects or create your own if possible, which will help to solidify your passion and desire for continued learning and improvement, as well being a name within a creative community. We all want to become a ‘jack of all trades’ in this profession, but working hard to build yourself up as a master of at least one will also really help. Ideally you want to innovate and create, not simply follow and digest.

Matt is owner of monkehWorks Ltd

Naomi Atkinson

We can all be quite uncomfortable in promoting ourselves, yet we do this on behalf of our clients every day.

We wouldn’t tell our clients to be quiet and modest about what they do — quite the opposite — so my advice is to try and extract yourself from that personal awkwardness and think of yourself/your agency/your product as something that people should know about.

In the past I have looked to celebrity culture for inspiration on self-promotion. Watch my talk from Beyond Tellerand.

Naomi is a designer and illustrator

Jonathan Smiley

For me personal branding has to come organically – any outreach or branding I do, I do on behalf of ZURB, because the company can go a lot further than I can alone. I’ve been fortunate to get out there myself because of my work at ZURB, but that’s just fine for me.

Jonathan is a design lead at ZURB

Ross Bruniges

To stand out, I think you have to be open - tell people about the things you’re doing, tell people about the things that you’re good at and the things that you’re not good at, and attempt to start discussions around that. Talking about things you don’t know will bring you into a number of communities you possibly didn’t even know existed and spread your influence further than you would by only sticking to the things that you’re comfortable in.

Ross is a web developer for Mozilla based in London

Dan Rubin

I won’t pretend to have a magic formula, but what I do know is that when someone does notice you, you really should make the most of whatever opportunities present themselves as a result of it.

There’s no reason to be shy, either: be happy, proud, and tell the world when someone gives you an award, an idol retweets you, your client tells you your work is the bees knees, or you get published in .net :)

Dan is a designer and photographer

Aaron Gustafson

I don’t think there is a sure-fire way to establish yourself. Doing amazing work is often not enough, but being passionate and extroverted helps a great deal.

In this industry, as with most, connections are key. I’m not saying you should seek out the popular people who could help make you famous, but if you see opportunities to participate in conversations with them and can demonstrate your talent without being obnoxious, you might get a shout-out on Twitter or on stage at a conference. It helps to have a body of work to back you up too; that’s a given. Work on your portfolio, write about your work, whatever you can do to show someone why they should pay attention to you. After all, just because you think you’re the next big thing doesn’t mean you are. Be humble, focus on your craft, put yourself out there whenever you can, and don’t get frustrated if you don’t get “discovered” right away.

There are plenty of truly amazing folks working on the web who you will never hear about and that’s OK. After all, are we doing this for kudos or are we doing it because working on the web is fracking awesome?

Aaron is principal at Easy! Designs

Trent Walton

I’d like to believe that doing good work and sharing it is actually enough, but it’s more nuanced than that.

Participate in larger conversations and encourage those around you. It’s less about broadcasting and more about being a community member.

Trent is founder of Paravel

Rob Mills
Studio manager

The design industry is crowded and in South Wales especially, there are many agencies. At Bluegg we try not to focus on the competition but we focus on being true to ourselves and producing the best work we can for our clients. Ultimately, it is the quality of your work that will stand you in good stead for getting noticed and word of mouth really is the most effective and powerful generator of work.

What we are proud of at Bluegg is our culture and personality. This has developed over the 11 years and we are sticklers for making sure what and how we communicate is authentic and consistent. This feeds into what we call, ‘The Bluegg Way’. No matter where or how people come into contact with us, they will always experience the real Bluegg. Our values, culture, tone of voice and personality are evident on our social media channels, in the work we produce, in the way we answer the phone, in the way we write emails and how we behave in person at meetings. Therefore, our consistent and authentic personality is our strategy for standing out from the crowd.

Rob is studio manager of creative agency Bluegg

Leisa Reichelt
Freelance UX consultant

Well, I’d preface this by saying that I don’t really like the idea of consciously propagating a personal brand. Whatever you do should be authentic. Be yourself. Don’t think of your brand as anything other than you being you.

That said, my advice is, when asked to talk or write, say yes, maybe even volunteer (ladies, I’m looking especially at you). If this sounds too scary, be creative about other, more comfortable ways to share your knowledge and experience with others in the industry. (Presenting a podcast, anyone?)

Don’t be afraid to have an opinion and share it, but maybe present it more as your current opinion that is subject to change as you learn more rather than The One Right Way. This is a good way of not having to worry about being seen to be wrong, because you can embrace alternate opinions as a part of your learning journey.

Be honest. Be humble. Be passionate. That should do it.

Leisa is an independent UX consultant

Rob Walker
Managing director

Research the competition and benchmark against them. Make it real and different. Don’t just follow the crowd. Putting something personal into it is important. Think about why things work in regards to the colour scheme, spacing, typography, imagery.

Rob is managing director at Xcite Digital

Joni Korpi

You already stand out from the crowd: you have a unique mix of interests and knowledge that no one else has. Combine those to find your unique angle on things. Then base all of your work, thinking and writing on it.

Joni specialises in adaptive web design

Seb Lee-Delisle
Digital artist and speaker

Doing great work is important, but probably not enough by itself. Putting your ideas and opinions out there is scary. If you don’t feel qualified enough to tell people what you think, don’t worry. Write and speak with humility, and if you are wrong, people will very quickly point it out. Admit it, fix it and learn from it. The process of putting your thoughts into words will make you smarter.

Seb is an award-winning digital artist and speaker

Rachel Shillcock
Freelance web designer

It sounds kind of ironic, but I never started out wanting to stand out. I knew that I wasn’t the best at what I did and that I had a hell of a lot to learn - but I started to brand myself. I used a nickname that a few people called me and I started building a brand around that name. It took years of designing and tweaking my brand - and it’s important to remember that a brand doesn’t just start and end with a logo, but it’s the whole being of that person or company. This not only included in the logo but also through colour, language and tone, the style of the content I put out there, and so much more.

Above everything else though, I always try to ensure that first and foremost I build relationships with people. I have always tried to keep things very personal. I started out with no connections, like a lot of people, but rather than trying to build up connections with people that helped better my work, I first started by building relationships and friendships with the people I met. Over the years, this has been noticed more than the work I do and it’s been one of those vital things that, surprisingly to some, has helped me get work with other people.

Standing out from the crowd doesn’t mean that you have to do something crazy and wacky that gets you noticed. Instead, stand by your virtues and your beliefs and ensure that people understand you, your ‘brand’ and your work for what it really is. Going the extra mile and making that difference noticeable is what will, in the end, get you noticed more - and for the right things.

Rachel is a freelance web designer

Gavin Elliott

Listen more than you talk. Help more than be needy. Share more than you take. Get to know people and continue to learn. Strive to do one good thing every day and stay active.

Gavin is the founder of the Industry Web Conference

Inayaili de Leon
Web designer

I think doing your best work is fundamental, but being dependable is surprisingly something that isn’t as common as you’d think. I like to make sure I honour my commitments, as small as they might be, and on time. Taking responsibility for your work will also make you stand out for the crowd, as so many people and many designers prefer to assign blame to anyone else but themselves: their boss, their clients, etc.

Inayaili is lead web designer at Canonical

Shane Mielke
Creative director

In a sea of creatives, all influenced by the same trends, it takes a lot of effort to truly commit to a unique personal brand, do the extra work and stand out. It definitely doesn’t happen by following trends, doing your best at work or just thinking about it. Take your energies and focus them in a direction that solves the problem without relying up what projects you have at work. We all have unlimited creative freedom right this second. There’s nothing stopping you from creating an amazing personal site, personal brand, motion graphics video, art or anything that embraces some wild idea that you have to stand out. You don’t need to wait for work or a client to fill your portfolio with stunning work and get noticed.

Shane is a freelance designer

Chip Hayner

The best way to stand out from the crowd is to exemplify characteristics that are not always found in the average person: honesty, integrity, tenacity, passion, humility and respect. When you live your life with these characteristics, people notice that you’re different, that they actually enjoy working with you and will cause them to come back to work with you again and again.

Chip is chief information officer at CentreSource

Patrick McNeil
Author and developer

The best two methods I use all the time:

1 Be on time. Crap flows down hill, so if you’re late, someone else down the line pays the price. It seems that people tend to prefer someone on time even if they don’t have the very best work. Not to say that crap work is OK, but be on time.

2 Say ‘yes’. I can’t say how many times I’ve been in a meeting where no one wanted to take on a task, even very simple ones. Be the guy that takes on stuff and gets it done. Being known for actually doing stuff and not just being the smartest is key.

Patrick wrote The Web Designer’s Idea Book

Susan Hallam

One of the best ways to stand out in a crowd is not to talk about yourself! Celebrating other people’s success, sharing their ideas, engaging with their content is a great way to build your own brand. If I’m in expert in my field, then I’ll be hanging out with other experts on social networks, and confident enough to give credit and kudos to their good work.

Susan has more than 18 years’ experience working in the internet marketing industry

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