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Wall of Love

CF #26: Visual ideas, efficiency tools, and creative epiphanies

Key points


  1. Standing out with motifs
  2. 9 eye-catching visual ideas
  3. Pokémon card design lessons
  4. See Ya, Future Me
  5. New Inspo Center references
  6. Horo
  7. Inspiration has an expiration date
  8. Humans only have one language processor
  9. 10,000 hours vs 10,000 iterations

Standing out with motifs, 9 eye-catching visual ideas, Pokémon card design lessons, See Ya, Future Me, New Inspo Center references, Horo, Inspiration has an expiration date, Humans only have one language processor, 10,000 hours vs 10,000 iterations.

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3 tips & tutorials 🌟

1) Visual charisma: Standing out with ease through motifs

A super easy and effective (yet underutilized) way of giving your visual design a distinct identity is by using a motif.

What's a motif?

A motif is a visual idea that recurs in multiple formats and ties the design together. - Erik D. Kennedy, Learn UI Design

Can you guess the motif below?

Mobile app layout
Via Yi Li on Dribbble

It's the rounded rhombus!

The rounded rhombus motif

What about here?

Health company website shared by Learn UI design

It's a hexagon motif, found in the logo, visual decorations, and even in the typeface.

Hexagon motif

A motif doesn't have to be a shape. It can be ANY visual idea that can reappear in different areas of a composition.

Here, the motif is the fabric of spacetime:

Wope website motif

Here, it's the aurora gradient:

PrismData aurora gradient motif

What can be a motif?

  • Shapes
  • Symbols
  • Textures
  • Color combinations (gradients)
  • Filters
  • Abstract concepts (love, outer space, time)
  • Hand-drawn elements
  • Digital elements (pixels, binary code, glitches)

Where can a motif appear?

  • Logos
  • Text
  • Background patterns
  • Decorative shapes
  • Image framing/masking
  • Buttons
  • Icons
  • Dividers
  • Scrollbars

Can you guess the motif for the layouts below?

Email me your answer 📮

Two website layouts, and Dribbble shot by Victa Wille

Craving more? 👇

🛠️ Tutorial: How to add a motif to your design

2) 9 eye-catching visual ideas for your next design (w/ examples + tutorials) – Part 2

We'll go over visual ideas for the following categories:

  • Backgrounds (Part 1)
  • Borders (Part 1)
  • Lines & dividers (Part 1)
  • Corners
  • Shadows
  • Text
  • Image treatment (Part 3)
  • Color (Part 3)
  • Balance (Part 3)

a) Corners

i) The Corner Fold

A corner fold can add depth and make digital content feel more tangible and engaging as it imitates real-life.

Corner fold
Jordan Hughes

🛠️ Tutorial: How to create a corner fold in Figma and Webflow.

ii) Mix Round and Sharp Corners

Mix round and sharp corners to introduce asymmetry and make a design feel more free-flowing and less rigid.

Rounded and sharp corner radii
DesignCode, MrPops, and Flash Form
iii) Rectangle to Oval Transition

Turn rectangles into ovals on hover when you want to convey an organic look & feel that is reminiscent of natural shapes from the real world.

Oval hover effect

🛠️ Tutorial: Rectangle to oval hover effect in Webflow

b) Shadows

i) Harsh Shadows

Go for a harsh sun shadow when creating a visual language that is luminant and outdoorsy.

Hash sunny shadows
Ruslan Siiz
ii) Gradient Shadows

Lots of modern layouts use gradients as their motif. A less common way of having that visual idea recur is with a gradient drop shadow.

Gradient shadow on a button and blog cards
Amir Baqian

🛠️ Tutorial: How to create a gradient shadow in Figma and Webflow

iii) White Shadows to Mimic Highlights

Combine white inner shadows and dark inner shadows to mimic highlights, depth, and thickness.

3D elements created with inner shadows only

🛠️ Tutorial: How to create a 3D glass element in Figma & Webflow using box shadows

🎁 Bonus shadow techniques from previous newsletters:

Colored shadows
Glowing glass button and colorful mobile layout
Rakib Kowshar​

🛠️ Tutorial: How to create a translucent glass button with a colored drop shadow in Figma & Webflow

c) Text

i) Add a Reflective Texture

A reflective brushed metal texture introduces a tactile quality and realism to an otherwise 2D element. A beautiful and subtle way of reinforcing the brand motif.

Textured text
Ruslan Siiz
ii) Mix typefaces

Mix distinct typefaces to convey the multifacetedness of a brand. You can also use this technique to create a sense of tension or harmony.

Mixing typefaces within the same text layer
Huy Phan
iii) Icon layering

Overlay icons to bring life and personality to otherwise plain textual content. Also a great way of reinforcing a motif.

Icons layered on top of text

🎁 Bonus text techniques from previous newsletters

Interweave text and imagery
Interweave text and imagery

🛠️ Tutorial: How to interweave text and imagery in Figma & Webflow

Change the typeface of one letter
Change the typeface of one letter poster design
Studio Standard
Add inline imagery
Website hero section with inline imagery in the headline
Hanna Sierova

3) What we can learn from Pokémon card design

Pokémon cards have been around since 1996 so you can imagine the number of visual ideas Pokémon card designers have had to come up with over the years to keep the cards looking fresh and interesting.

Pokémon cards

a) Mood lines help convey the essence of the Pokémon:

Mood lines on Pokemon cards
Mood lines
Zeven Design

Learn more about mood lines here.

b) White stroke on text to enhance readability:

White stroke on text for accessibility

c) Break the frame to add depth and draw attention:

Pokemon monsters breaking the frame

d) Clear visual hierarchy using position and scale. The most important content is larger and positioned on top:

Visual hierarchy on Pokemon cards

e) Related content is grouped:

Grouping of content on Pokemon card

f) Consistent spacing and alignment throughout (All spacing values are multiples of x, the base unit):

Consistent spacing and sizing on Pokemon card

I hope you found these creative takeaways useful!

3 useful tools 🛠️

1) See Ya, Future Me

Inspired by MrBeast's "Hi Me In 5 Years" YouTube video.

See Ya, Future Me was created by Damon Chen to allow you to send a video to future you.

Reflect on your current thoughts, goals, and aspirations.

When future you watches the video, you'll be able to gauge how much you've grown and see how your perspectives and values have evolved.

Note: Your video isn't public.

Screenshot of Hey Future Me website

2) The Inspo Center

Need some creative references for your next project?

I've added a ton of new beautiful pieces to The Inspo Center!

My favorite categories:

Typography inspiration

Web design inspiration

Color inspiration

Bookmark it as I add a few new pieces daily. Enjoy :D

Screenshot of the Inspo Center

3) Horo

I use Horo to add a time constraint and sense of urgency to my work.

Adding a time constraint gets my butt moving and the creative juices flowin'.

There's something about seeing the Horo timer count down right in my face that yanks the ideas out of me.

Note: I find the timer on the default Clock app to be clunky in comparison. Starting, stopping, and pausing are all inferior. It also doesn't have the natural language engine that I love about Horo.

Screenshot of the Horo app in action

3 ideas to think about 💡

1) Inspiration has an expiration date

Dimming light bulbs

You get an incredible idea for a project or initiative.

You're super excited and energized by it.

You can't help but think about how amazingly it'll impact others and how proud you'll be once it's out there.

You then start thinking about how to bring it to life.

"Ouff, damn, quite the big project".

"I'll have to learn this first. Then that".

"I can figure it out but it's gonna take time".

Fear, complexity, and overthinking start setting in.

"I'll get it done soon enough. I have the idea and that's all that matters".

"I have time!"

Truth is, inspiration is perishable. You don't have time.

That initial excitement, passion, and freshness will wane over time.

In fact, if you never actually act on the idea, you'll look back on it later and think: "Wasn't that great of an idea anyway".

Screw all that noise. Act right away.

We must feel the fear and do it anyway (nice little one-liner from Susan Jeffers, Ph.D, that I often recall).

I'm not saying finish executing the idea right away. That's a whole other topic.

I'm saying, start working on it ASAP because that initial passion will give the work a lot of oomph, clarity, and momentum.

Also, the sunk-cost fallacy will minimize the chances you'll give up on it.

You might then say: "I'm a great starter but not the best finisher. How do I finish what I start?"

Build in public.

Commit to sharing the entire process.

Do what Damon Chen does on Twitter or his blog.

Do what @levelsio does on Twitter.

Set up a public roadmap on your website (My roadmap).

Hope that helps 🫶

2) Humans only have one language processor

A person giving a presentation on stage in front of a huge projected slideshow

Ever been to a presentation wherein the speaker was using a slideshow with a ton of text on every slide?

How'd it go? How much did you retain?

My assumption is that it probably wasn't the greatest presentation you'd ever attended.

We can’t listen to a speaker and read the slides at the same time (and vice versa).

There is textual communication and oral communication.

We can only process one at a time.

You have two options:

Option #1:

Share most of the information orally with very little text on your slides (if you have slides).

Any slide text should be BIG and SPARSE.

Favor props, images, and numbers to support your oral communication.

Option #2:

Share all the information textually and let the reader take it from there. No oral presentation needed.

Humans only have one language processor.

Remember this for your next team meeting, design presentation, sales pitch, lecture, etc.

Imagine if I was voicing over this entire email 😂

3) 10,000 hours vs 10,000 iterations

A notebook with a ton of crumpled paper surrounding it

My favorite part of the design process (after the contextualization, research, and visualization) is the iterative visual design step.

The part where I get to try, remix, and combine ideas, FAST.

I love creating a layout, trying an idea, giving it a nod or headshake, and then quickly duplicating that frame and modifying the idea.

Then, duplicating again and merging it with another idea, only to scrap both and start with a whole new idea.

I usually end up with a beautifully chaotic mess of 20+ frames.


A few days ago, I designed and developed a collection on the website where I'll be posting random reflections. Here are some of the iterations:

Iterations of a blog collection design

I love going back to the first frame and comparing it to the final result.

I also love the feedback collection step. Getting a fresh perspective and learning about things I missed.

I love creating, shipping, and seeing how others react, then iterating based on those reactions.

I say this to say.... the best way of creating something significant is by iterating as much as possible.

Not spending time staring at it in deep thought.

We’re way better at doing than thinking.

Iteration is information.

Iteration is clarity.

Iterate, duplicate, and move fast.

Shower thoughts 🚿

1) When you're a kid playing truth or dare, dare is the scary option. When you're an adult it's truth.

2) Trying to carry your groceries in one trip is probably the most effortful form of laziness.

3) Even though our fingers are different lengths, they all line up when you curl all your fingers in

Via Reddit (u/notassmartasithinkia, u/jumpinpuddleok, u/roodeeMental)

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Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
“I'm floored by how much content you deliver in these emails. Again, thank you!” -Lindsey O.
weekly redesigns
Learn design through redesigns
Every Tuesday, I redesign something you send me and explain my exact thought process
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
“I'm floored by how much content you deliver in these emails. Again, thank you!” -Lindsey O.

Fresh Youtube videos



Have you forgotten about the fundamentals?

I’ve learned that no amount of coaching, fancy apps, “creativity hacks & tips” etc, will make up for:

  • Subpar sleep
  • Low vitamin D3 (lack of direct sunlight exposure)
  • Lack of movement (sports, resistance training, cardio)
  • Poor diet (macro and micronutrients)
  • Nonexistent stress management

Get these right first.

They are the highest impact things you can do.

Ignoring these is like a student ignoring the fundamental concepts needed to ace an exam and instead focusing on color-coding their notes, using fancy study apps, and organizing their study space with intricate decorations.

Master the basics. Everything else falls into place. full post
Aug 15, 2023

Nonfiction books are too long

Most nonfiction books should've been 1000-word articles.

I find myself abandoning a lot of books right around the 25-30% mark.

Not because they're bad, but because I fully get the gist by that point and it's right around when the repetition of examples and ideas begins.

I'm okay with abandoning a book midway now. Just a couple years ago, I would power through the whole thing in fear of missing out on some crucial ideas in the later chapters.

Now, I just have fun with it. If it piques my interest, great – I'll buy it, read the chapters that seem interesting, get what I came for and move onto the next one.

I think a lot of these authors are just trying to meet some sort of quota. I dunno.

There's elegance in brevity. full post
Aug 14, 2023

A note on this weird cold plunge trend

So many of these "gurus" telling us to take cold showers and cold plunges 😂 😂

If you’re tired all the time:

  • Go get your bloodwork done and see what you’re deficient in
  • Get outside. Get some damn sun
  • Sleep well
  • Use your mind to build something – It'll energize you

Stick to high-impact basics. These little micro-optimizations aren't going to change anything.

Enjoy your hot showers 🔥🚿 full post
Jul 21, 2023