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Great designers aren't born, they're made!
We are all capable of improving, no matter how experienced we already are.
See if this sounds familiar to you.
You become fixated on some desired outcome: a healthier body, gaining more customers, or new skills. You join the gym, buy a personal development course, or take up YouTube.
You start off strong but motivation goes to sh$t. The reason why you’re struggling to be consistent is that you’re focused on the outcome rather than the process.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit — (Aristotle)
The best way to improve as a designer (or any other role) is to be consistent and create repeatable habits.
Here are 15 habits that will improve you as a designer:
Setting design goals for yourself in order to learn: Design is learned. Prioritize your goals and set challenging goals. Choose achievable goals, Set deadlines for each goal, Create a reminder in the calendar about the deadline and Reward yourself when the goal is met
Practice active listening: One of my favorite ways to learn is to listen.
Build storytelling skills: One of the best ways to communicate your thoughts is by using a story.
Avoid using jargon. Keep it simple: When other people don’t understand what you’re saying, it creates confusion or misunderstanding. And this habit can have a negative impact on communication both inside your team and with your users:
Don't settle for just one idea: Challenge your ideas. The first idea is usually not the best and the only one that will come up. Give time to challenge and test out your ideas.
Let go of the urge of making things perfect: Done is better than perfect. It is much better to have something that satisfies requirements rather than miss a deadline and provide excuses.
Get comfortable with sketching: Pens before pencils (this one I still personally struggle with)
Take notes: Every time you have a good idea, don’t rely on your memory. (yes, I struggle with this one too)
Revisit past work: You have generated a lot of insights and ideas in previous projects. You don’t always need to reinvent the wheel. Some past ideas may help you solve new solutions.
Collaborate more: Engage more in every aspect of a project. Learn what others are doing to contribute to the project. Collaboration is an excellent way for UX designers to increase their skills.
Research your users: Remember, we designers are not our users. The more you watch people use your product, the more you understand the problems they face.
Stay inspired on a daily basis: You need to be inspired on a daily basis. Don’t limit yourself to only designing things. Embrace the world in order to find a proper balance between work and inspiration.
Embrace constructive criticism: Don’t get attached to your pixels, fall in love with the solution you are trying to solve.
Learn the art of critique: Giving and receiving critique is one of the best ways to improve as a designer. It improves the way you communicate and forces you to concentrate on the problems are you trying to solve.
Take breaks: Don’t get burned out. Consistency is key, not speed.
So what’s my real take?
Stop thinking and start doing. Great designers are not born, they are made. They learn, they fall and they get back up. They keep pushing themselves out of their comfort zone and are not afraid to ask for help. Yes, some have natural artistic talent but we are all capable of improving, no matter how experienced we already are.
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