How to navigate the mental barriers that keep you from moving forward.

A collection of signs on a street which read “Road Closed, Wrong Way, No Left Turn, and Detour.”
A collection of signs on a street which read “Road Closed, Wrong Way, No Left Turn, and Detour.”
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Design blocks are tough, and even after 15+ years of designing websites, they still happen to me all the time. I’ll be determined to move forward on a project, but find myself completely stuck — maybe I don’t know where to start, or there’s too much pressure to create something brilliant, or a vague “something” about the design just doesn’t feel right.

It can be debilitating; I can fear that this time the good idea will never come, or that I’ve lost my touch. A particularly bad design block can make me question my worth and ability as a designer.


The case for Laying the Foundations, a new book about design systems (and more) by Andrew Couldwell

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268 pages of pure wisdom. You can buy 15+ years of design experience for $20 (eBook), $30 (paperback), or $40 (both).

Design systems are something I largely avoided writing, reading, or talking about for an embarrassingly long time.

They overwhelmed and upset my brain, which leans towards the imaginative and away from the orderly. I saw design systems and thought of complicated engineering schematics, unfurled and laid out on a giant table, with people frowning and puzzling over complex and unintelligible diagrams.

It wasn’t until I got a close-up look at the work Andrew was doing on Adobe Portfolio (back in 2015) that I began to see how creative and adaptable they could be (to get a sense of this for…


The stages I went through on my path to learning front-end development

Quick note: “coding” in this article is my shorthand phrase for “learning enough HTML and CSS to be able to create the basic front-end for the websites you design.” Many developers will probably see this as dipping the smallest of pinky toes into “coding,” and that’s fine with me. 💁‍♀️

Being a Designer Who Codes™ is a pretty awesome superpower. Not only can you design pictures of gorgeous websites, but you can make them exist on the real internet! (Because as much as I love them, Dribbble shots are not the real internet). It’s a bit like being a mad…


The motivations and struggles behind redesigning my own website

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A preview of my new website

Every web designer knows how challenging it is to redesign and maintain your own website. The shoemaker’s children often go barefoot, as the cliché goes.

My professional website, Owltastic, has gone through many redesigns since its birth in 2008 (hard to believe it just passed the 10 year mark!). Before Owltastic, I worked under my own name — using a domain which turned out to be impossible to spell and easy to forget — so I decided to create a site under the emblem of my favorite animal, an owl.

I adopted owls as my symbol for many reasons: I…


Hello! Today I’m going to show you how to use one my favorite features in Adobe XD — Auto-Animate within prototypes.

To watch the whole tutorial as a video, view the video file below. Or, you can keep reading!

The basis for this tutorial is a project I worked on recently; it’s a free UI Kit I created for Adobe XD, which you can use to design a website for a non-profit. You can download the UI Kit on Behance here.

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The basis for the tutorial is my Non-profit UI Kit for Adobe XD

For this tutorial, I’ll show you how to add animations to the donation form prototype.

Start with artboards for every state of your form

I started with…


A case study detailing the design of two digital research platforms

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When Behavior Change for Good, a program born out of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, reached out to see if I’d design their two debut platforms, I was ecstatic. You may have heard about Behavior Change for Good (or BCFG, as we called it) on Freakanomics Radio. Or you may have read the book Grit by Angela Duckworth, who is a co-founder of the initiative.

BCFG’s goal is to help people create change for good through science-backed programs. Here’s what they’re about, in their own words:

For the first time, a world-class team of scientific experts will…


A case study of creating a responsive home page

Note: this case study gives a detailed account of my process on a project I contributed to as a freelancer for an agency. As this project is still in progress and has yet to go live, for now I’ve left out details about the client and specifics about the project.

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A sneak peek of the desktop version of the final product

In September of 2017, I partnered with a NYC-based agency to help develop a unique visual style direction for a new marketing website for one of their clients. The client was an established software company in the financial industry, looking to take their brand to the next level. …


The creation of Pawtastic, an e-commerce UI kit

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A preview of Pawtastic, an e-commerce UI kit for Adobe XD

When the team at Adobe XD reached out to see if I’d be interested in creating a free UI kit using their platform, I was beyond excited for several reasons. For one, I’ve used Adobe software in some capacity for all of my 10+ years as a designer, so having them for a client was kind of a dream come true. I’ve also been wanting to explore Adobe XD and use it in a project for some time, so this was the perfect motivation for me to take the leap. …


The role faces play in creating a personality for digital businesses

This article is part of a series based on a talk I gave at Adobe Max and WebVisions last year. To read the other articles in the series, check out Bringing the Humanity Back to Digital.

In my last article in this series, “Everything Has a Personality,” I discussed how visual design elements can go a long way towards giving your company a friendly personality. Here I’ll explore how you can take it even further and put an actual face on your website.

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MailChimp is famous for putting an adorable face on their business

The business benefits of using faces in web design are well discussed and documented; multiple studies and…


How to ensure your digital experiences convey the right personality

This article is part of a series based on a talk I gave at Adobe Max and WebVisions last year. To read the other articles in the series, check out Bringing the Humanity Back to Digital.

In my previous article in this series, “What working in the service industry taught me about design,” I closed with this quote:

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Reading this was a game-changer for me as a designer. It sounds simple, but the epiphany that our designs have personalities (which I first encountered in Aaron Walter’s incredible book Designing for Emotion) changed the way I think about my work.

As…

Meagan Fisher

Web designer and developer. Known for a love of owls, but also crazy about typography, cats, coffee, and pastels. See more at: http://owltastic.com

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