Rafal Tomal is specialized in web design tasks, and he is focused on clean, simple and functional style in everything he produce. He believes that a website require great usability, accessibility, search engine optimization (SEO), development and other important components as much as they require great graphic design.
Rafal is the Lead Designer at the Rainmaker Digital and he wrote a great ebook which helps other designers to improve their skills and learn how to design beautiful websites.
Could you tell us briefly about your background? How did you get started in design and for how long have you been doing it?
I’ve been interested in all the computer stuff since I was a kid. I started learning C++ when I was 13, because I wanted to be a game developer. Later, I switched to designing and coding websites, because that was something that let me make some money for the first time. I learned HTML, CSS, PHP and then I started freelancing when I was still in high school.
When I started my professional career I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to focus more on coding or designing websites. However, it didn’t take me too long to discover that I really enjoyed the creative process and designing website concepts and mockups more than spending hours looking at code.
Do you have any rules that you live by?
I focus on doing things that I truly enjoy. In my work it means that I’m trying to choose only projects that I am passionate about and work with people that I like.
We know you wrote an e-book about “The Essential Web Design Handbook” but can you tell us in a few words if there are any things you wish you knew at the beginning of your career?
I wish I knew a better process of designing websites at the beginning of my career. It would have saved me a lot of time and helped me be a better designer if I had always designed the way I do today. I had to spend many years trying and making a lot of mistakes until I figured it all out. Of course, I’m not saying that I know everything today, but I feel like I have a solid framework that I can follow and I know what should I learn next.
I described my entire designing process step by step in my ebook, The Essential Web Design Handbook.
What do you do to keep your ideas fresh?
I think it’s a good idea to bring some fresh ideas from the real world. Look around and you can find so much inspiration in nature, books, magazines, posters, signs, etc.
I often sketch my ideas in my dot grid journal. Sketching helps me be more creative, because I’m free to do whatever I want in a very short time.
Which part of the design process do you enjoy the most?
It’s usually the moment right after I gather all the information about the project and when I’m done with my research. It’s the part when I’m trying different visual design concepts and when I sketch a lot of ideas. I think it’s the most intensive and creative part and that’s why I love it.
How would you describe a well designed banner ad?
[Tweet “a banner ad must be easy to read with big fonts and high contrast colors”]
Like every design, it has to be functional. That means that it has to convey the right message to the right audience. When it comes to visual aspects, a banner ad must be easy to read with big fonts and high contrast colors.
What do you think which are the most important aspects when it comes to defining a good design?
Like I mentioned in my previous answer, design has to be functional and it has to work.
This is the most important aspect of a good design to me.
We have to be more focused solving problems with our design. That being said, if the main point of the home page is to convert visitors into email sign ups, then your entire page design has to be made around this goal.
When you mix your design solutions with a beautiful, readable, consistent typography and a color scheme that evokes the right emotions, then you’ll win the project.
It’s both beautiful and functional.
Could you make some predictions about design in advertising for 2016?
I think we’ll see more a minimalistic approach to convey the right message to the audience. Our lives are so busy right now and it seems like all the ads are screaming at us whenever we go. We have developed a tendency to avoid all of these distractions.
A clear and direct message, designed to create a visual blank space, can actually speak to people better.
What is your daily motto?
I don’t really have a daily motto, but I’m trying to follow the 8/8/8 rule – 8 hours sleeping, 8 hours working and 8 hours living your real life and having fun.
Could you recommend two or more resources for designers that are reading our blog?
I love dribbble.com.