5 things I wish I knew when I started my career as a Designer
The 4th will blow your mind
- 19 June, 2018
Many people ask me what I have learned in these almost 12 years working as a Designer. Well, I have learned many many many techniques and tricks that you can just learn by doing or with a real demand. I think the right question would be: “What are the tips you can give to somebody that is starting as a Designer?”. Well, I have collected some stuff that can help you predict your path, if you are a beginner. But don’t be scared… 🙂
1) Learn to receive feedback
The feedback about your work will be harsh many times, aggressive, careless and that can make you very feel frustrated, angry and sad. But I have good news: All of us Designers already experienced this. Is normal. My tips for you to consider:
- Don’t get too attached to your creation. You create for others, not for you. If you like one special version more, keep it for your portfolio. And you will be happy anyway to present it to the world.
- The critiques are examples of what other people may think about your creation. If there is a person that thinks is shit, not usable, not user-friendly, etc, believe me: Many other people can have this perception as well. Try to figure out why this person thinks like this and try to address the proper fix.
- The more critiques, better your creation will be. Yes my friend, it will be bullet proof once you can have a plan for any possible wrong case scenario.
I feel you. I got very stressed and angry many times with harsh feedback, which I replied at the same tone and intensity. Now I kinda fly over these small things. Sometimes…
2) Read every day
To be a Designer, or a Developer requires constant learning. You need to be connected to the latest trends of the Design Community, the Pop community, the political world and even the Peppa Pig exponential growth. You are the one that must see in front and ahead of the others. So own it and take it. You will set the next trends. I also recommend some books:
- The Design of Everyday Things, Don Norman
- Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want, Wiley
- Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers, John Wiley and Sons
- Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, New Riders
3) Study every day
You want to be compared to the “nephew designer”? No. So get your ass out there and learn. You must be able to work with all the main tools available in the market. If you don’t want to invest in something, at least apply for the free initial period and use it for learning the tool. In the end of the day we are Designers, not Photoshop operators, Illustrator operators, Sketch operators. We create stuff and this concept is initially designed outside of any tool.
That’s the reason I love working far from the office. 1 hour train to go and 1 hour train to go back is time enough for me to start the day studying and learning something new. I come to the office with fresh ideas and a small percentage of new knowledge.
4) Learn how to sell your ideas
As my superior and many times mentor said: “If you want your ideas to be heard, you need to enter the field. Otherwise it will just be the noise of bo-ing and yeah-ing from the side”. You cannot complain if your ideas are rejected or not forgotten, not used. Is your responsibility to pitch it in a way that will be inevitable for your idea to be used. You must complement your proposal with solid arguments and data! If you cannot find arguments and relevant data to backup your proposal, it means that it is really not so relevant. I recommend a very interesting book that I have: Articulating Design Decisions
I had hard times in the past to understand why I couldn’t prove to Stakeholders and PMs the importance of what I was proposing. Well, despite of all my frustration, sadness or anger, it was mostly my own fault. I should learn how to develop a better proposal.
5) Be humble and simple
From the moment you believe you know too much, is the end of your learning, and others will go more far than you, they will pass the stage you stagnated with your big ego. You don’t know, you are always learning. That should be your mantra. Is involuntary, your mind will set a trap for you. You cannot get enough of growing as a Designer. There is no “enough” when it comes to learning. You will be in the field for 30 years and you will be learning.
If you are too cocky it will be just harder fall when it happens. And it will happen.
The conclusion I came to is: Be hungry and never get enough. But I think somebody already said that. So I pass it to you: What do you recommend for somebody that is starting?
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