Every job has opportunities to learn lessons that can be applied in our everyday lives. The skills we learn at work don’t shut off when we walk out the office door at 5 p.m. Below is a list of the top 10 things I’ve learned in the design field that have applications in the real world, as well.
1. Don’t take feedback personally.
It’s crucial to have a thick skin in a subjective field. Everyone will have different opinions; this doesn’t mean your original product is poorly designed. Be open to feedback, I’ve learned it almost always enhances the end result.
2. Maintain your focus.
Listen to the end goals of the client. In your first kick-off meeting with a client, discover their “end goal”; whether that be to increase sales, obtain more newsletter signups, or create awareness for an event. Keep this goal in mind as you’re designing and try not to get sidetracked into other “fancy effects”. Though they may enhance the website, they might also distract from the goal.
3. Take time to plan ahead.
Brainstorming is your best friend. In the web design world, this means sketching out multiple ideas, collaborating with coworkers, making some tweaks, then turning to your computer to create the final product.
4. There will always be someone better.
It’s true! This is simply a fact of this industry. There will also be people who excel in different areas of the industry, (branding, illustration, photography, typography pairing, and more) and you may be one of the best in a particular sect of design within your company. Instead of letting this get you down, use it to your company’s advantage by assigning projects to designers based on their expertise.
5. Be selfless.
Do what’s best for the client. Learn to express your opinion based on experience, research, and what would truly be most beneficial for the client, not based on the desire to be right.
6. It’s ok (in fact, it’s better) to clarify.
I recommend clarifying the client’s requests and needs at the end of the meeting, the next steps and who will do which tasks, as well as the budget and timeline. Transparency is an important part of maintaining a successful, friendly business relationship. It will also save designers a lot of time if you misunderstand the client’s request!
7. Age doesn’t matter.
Blow clients away with your work, not your experience. Don’t feel intimidated by veterans of the industry or recent design grads who seem more up-to-date on the latest trends. Focus on impressing your clients with your style that you’re passionate about. Good design can be created at any walk of life.
8. Less is more.
A successful design is communicating as much as possible with as little as possible. Think about ways to portray a message using imagery, and color psychology, and content hierarchy.
9. Collaborate with other team members.
Especially with web design, it’s important to show developers your design before presenting it to the client. This will allow you to be sure you can deliver everything you pitch during your meeting as practical and possible.
10. Be proud of your work.
Always be sure to present designs that make you proud. If you’re unsure how to improve a design and are running out of the allotted time, don’t hesitate to ask for direction from your co-workers, both in and outside the design department. Many times, they will have a different perspective or “fresh eyes” and can offer suggestions. Also, a small graphic might seem like a quick project to check off the list, but you never know when a social post will go viral and be seen by hundreds of thousands. Take our recent Fareway article, for example. Channel 5 caught wind of the story and debuted it in their evening news.
These are the top 10 lessons I’ve learned in my personal career. Do you have more advice to give? Add them in the comments below!