I recently connected with a budding UX designer who asked me a question that got me pondering—what advice would I give my younger designer self?
As someone who's been in the design trenches for a while, I feel like an old pirate sharing sea tales. So grab a metaphorical chair and let's get into it.
Think of design as an ever-shifting ocean. The moment you think you've mapped out all the currents is the moment you get lost at sea. Always chart new territories in your skill set, and keep an eye out for those new horizons—be it in techniques or technologies.
👉 Action point: Dedicate an hour a week to learn something new. Whether it's a different design tool, a coding language, or the fundamentals of user psychology, make it a habit.
When you're climbing a mountain, it's the ones at the peak who yell back the best advice. Studying their routes can offer you a roadmap to dodge those slippery slopes and hanging cliffs. They are the lighthouses in your stormy seas—learn how they illuminate the path.
👉 Action point: Follow at least three industry leaders on social media. Engage with their content and try to understand the principles that make their work stand out. If possible, attend their webinars or read their books.
Look, we've all been there, right? You're scanning your inbox for that "dream project" or that "big-name client" to make your portfolio sing. I've been in those shoes, checking my email every two minutes, trust me. But let me drop a truth bomb: the world's full of design 'Easter eggs' just waiting to be discovered. Yeah, I'm talking about overlooked stuff, like the clunky interface on your gym's app or even the confusing layout of your city’s public transport website. Heck, roll up your sleeves and design an app that tackles a social issue you care about. These 'hidden levels' of design are where you level up. Trust me, this is portfolio gold, and it’s hiding in plain sight.
👉 Action point: Identify two or three areas in your life or community that could benefit from a design makeover. Then take the initiative to draft some improvements—even if it’s just for fun. Share your work on design platforms for feedback.
You can build a masterpiece, but if you can't explain why the Mona Lisa is smiling, it's a missed opportunity. Mastering the art of communication can make you the architect and the tour guide of your creations. The way you sell your designs can be the cherry on top of your creative cake.
👉 Action point: As you work on projects, make it a habit to document your design decisions. Create a brief, video, or a series of annotations explaining why you did what you did. This exercise forces you to articulate your thought process and prepares you for client questions.
I hope these bits of wisdom resonate with anyone walking the exciting, yet sometimes thorny path of design. Keep pushing those boundaries and may your creative sails always catch wind!