Design meetups here in Raleigh, NC are plentiful, and many of them have great content and great people leading them. I’ve been to some of those, and I’ve also been to some that have been less than perfect. They have been a place of solace, a place to listen and chat about design, and somewhere I can meet like-minded people. So whenever a new design meetup or other design-related group crops up, there are some criteria I am looking for before deciding to attend.

Chances are you’ve worked on a client project that didn’t go as smoothly as you would have liked. This could be due to a number of things, but more often than not communication is at the core. Designers need to have a little empathy to understand what it’s like to be a client who wants the world but also be knowledgeable enough to rein in expectations. So here are some things you should tell your clients to fill potential communication gaps in your projects.

We’ve all done our share of free labor in the past; on occasion, I still do. Even at this point in my career, I’m not above working for free under the right circumstances. Here are four questions I ask myself before taking on my next unpaid project.

Do I care about this company’s mission?

If I don’t feel an emotional connection to the purpose or the mission of the company, then I’m probably not interested in doing work for them. For me, there has to be a level of altruism in the product or service they’re providing that I want to be associated with. This is first on the list for a reason — it’s the main deciding factor.

Will I still be interested three months from now?

This is important for me because I tend to have “shiny object syndrome”, and I sometimes bounce from one new project to the other. If I think a project is capable of holding my attention for longer than a couple months, the chances of me taking it on increases significantly.