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What peripherals do you use for your design business?

Peripherals, often forgotten until they are needed, are an essential addition to any graphic design business. In episode 88 of the Resourceful Designer podcast, titled A Designer's Home Office Essentials, I covered some items you should have in your home office. This is kind of a sequel to that episode with a few more things to consider.

I go into more detail on the podcast for each of the following items so be sure to listen for the full story.

UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply)

An Uninterrupted Power Supply, also referred as a UPS is an essential peripheral for your business. A UPS provides a constant steady stream of power for your electronic devices through the use of a rechargeable battery. Think of it as a glorified power bar. Because your computer and other devices are powered via the UPS's battery you don't have to worry about power dips or spikes that may harm your equipment. Even a power outage is not an issue. The battery gives you sufficient time to save your work and power down your equipment in a safe manner.

Surge Protector

If you are not plugged into a UPS, then a surge protector is an absolute must. Most power bars have built-in surge protectors but double check before purchasing one. Surge protectors act as a buffer between a power outlet and your electronic devices protecting them against power surges. Should a surge occur the fuse or breaker in the surge protector will trip saving your devices from harm.

Pantone Color System

A Pantone colour book is essential for a print designer. The ability to choose and match colours is an integral part of our business. Recognized worldwide, using the Pantone colour system ensures you get the perfect printing results every time from every printer.

External Hard Drives

External Hard Drives are another great peripheral to have for your business. They allow for easy backup and storage of less often accessed files. External Hard Drives should not be your only solution for backups. For off-site backups I recommend Backblaze.

Tablets

Many designers use tablets such as iPads, Microsoft Surface, or those by Wacom in their business. If you are a designer who enjoys the hands-on feel of designing then a tablet may be the perfect peripheral for you.

Webcam

Many computers and laptops come with built-in webcams. However, these cameras are not always practical. A USB webcam such as the Logitech HD Pro C920, the one I use, allows you to position the camera at the ideal spot for best picture and lighting.

Powered USB Hub

Peripherals are great, but most computers can only accommodate so many at a time. A Powered USB Hub increases your USB port real estate so you can connect more devices. I suggest a powered port to accommodate multiple devices that draw their power via the USB connection.

Line Gage

A Line Gage can refer to many different tools. The one I'm talking about is a clear piece of mylar or plastic with useful measurement tools printed on it. A line gage allows you to measure things like font size, line spacing (leading), stroke thickness, etc. I designed my own Line Gage years ago and use it on a regular basis. If you want to see what I'm talking about you can download a PDF of my Line Gage and have one made for yourself.

CD/DVD Burner

Sure DVDs are going the way of the dinosaurs, but until they do it might be a good idea for you to have a way to read and burn disks. Some computers have a CD/DVD reader/burner built in, but companies such as Apple have done away with them. USB CD/DVD Burners are not very expensive and are a great peripheral to have on hand should you need it.

Dedicated Phone Number

I talked about phone numbers in episode 7 and episode 14 of the podcast. The fact is, if you are running any sort of business from your home, be it full-time, part-time, or just doing casual freelance jobs, you should have a dedicated phone number for your business. Contact your phone company or look into services such as Google Voice or eVoice and get a business number.

Extra Cables

Don't throw out those old cables when you upgrade your devices. you never know when you may need to connect something to your computer and require one of them. I personally have a box containing many different kinds of connector cables that I can pull out should a client supply me with an external hard drive or camera or whatever.

Computer Glasses

If you wear glasses for reading you may be pleased to know you can get special computer glasses that are specifically adjusted to the distance you sit from your computer screen. These glasses will reduce eye strain as well as back strain from having to lean in towards the screen in order to see it clearly.

You can also get a special coating on the glasses to prevent eye strain by the blue light emitted by computer monitors. This blue light can cause headaches as well as interrupt your sleep if you look at your monitor too close to bedtime.

Inquire wherever you get your glasses if computer glasses are right for you.

What peripherals do you use?

Let me know by leaving a comment for this episode.

Questions of the Week

Submit your question to be featured in a future episode of the podcast by visiting the feedback page.

This week’s question comes from Joseph

I'd like to hear your option on mobile creative devices like the iPad Pro 2 and Microsoft Surface tablets? Do you use one of them and if so how do you use them for design work?

To find out what I told Joseph you’ll have to listen to the podcast.

Resource of the week Grammarly

I first purchased Grammarly on a whim over a year ago during some ridiculous sale they were having. It was probably one of the best purchases I've made in recent years. Not a day goes by that Grammarly doesn't help me out.

What is Grammarly? Simply put, it’s a spelling and grammar checker for your computer and web browser. But it’s so much more than that. As they say on their website, Grammarly leaves outdated spelling and grammar checkers in the dust.

Grammarly helps me whenever I fill out online forms, when I'm designing in WordPress and when I'm posting on social media. Anywhere I write, Grammarly is there to make sure I write well.

Grammarly doesn’t only correct, it teaches. It tells you if you are using repetitive words, warns of things like weak adjectives, and so much more. According to their website 85% of people using Grammarly become stronger writers. I've seen it in my writing.

It can be set for American or British spelling and is available for both Mac and Windows.

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I want to help you.

Running a graphic design or web design business all by yourself isn't easy. If there are any struggles you face running your design business please reach out to me. I'll do my best to help you by addressing your issues in a future blog post or podcast episode here at Resourceful Designer. You can reach me at feedback@resourcefuldesigner.com

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