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How to grow from a junior UI/UX designer to a senior designer?

9 months ago from , UI/UX designer

I worked at an agency for over a year as a junior UI/UX designer, but I was usually assigned to do less important design tasks such as drawing icons and illustrations. Even when the senior designer asked me to do some UI design or web design for products, he would always use his own design instead of my output. I feel like I would never be able to be a senior UI/UX designer if I kept doing this loop because I will never have the opportunity to design a complete product to enrich my portfolio.

I'd ask the community how do you grow from a junior UI/UX designer to a senior one? What is your pace?

8 comments

  • Noah SNoah S, 8 months ago

    Hi Rachel

    Everyones path is a little different when it comes to professional development as a designer. But it's all a question of growth and thinking about your end goals is the best starting point to map out the steps to achieving them.

    When I was a junior designer the thing that helped me grow me the most was feedback from my superiors. There are different kinds of feedback you can seek but as a junior designer you might start by focusing on more senior designers who can deliver feedback around your design choices and design output. Ranging from stylistic critique, your ability to interpret a brief, your design approach, your ability to solve a clients problem, and how well you can communicate your designs to other designers and more importantly non-designers.

    So when you put forward your designs at the agency, and they weren't used these are things you could think about and talk to with a senior designer.

    These is a specific example, but at a higher level your growth is really determined by you and your ability to:

    (1.) Create opportunities that will help you get to where you want to be, and

    (2.) How you make the most of those opportunities to ensure you grow

    Another thing you mentioned was that you felt like you didn't have enough big pieces to showcase as part of your folio. Well why don't find or create a brief for yourself and design something? I'm sure you've seen or experienced something about a product or service that you think could be better so why not try and improve it? Visually the designs don't have to be at the level of a senior designer, but showing your design thinking skills and process of solving a problem is what will distinguish you from other designers especially as a junior.

    Taking the initiative to create opportunities like this for yourself is the best way to take control of your growth. And it's what a lot of senior designers will be looking for when hiring a junior, as this reflects your thinking, process and ultimately how you arrived at a final solution. The visual elements of a design can always be tweaked but if the thinking and decision making are not explained or not well considered it doesn't matter what it looks like, as the end result is just fluff. This a common mistake I see from junior designers and I too was guilty of it!

    Another thing that I found really helpful was just reaching out to designers I admired and asking them out for a coffee. I promise you that most designers will happily free up an hour and talk to you as they were in the same position themselves. Being able to hear about their experiences first hand and getting their expertise will be a big difference maker and reminder that we all started somewhere. And its always a great way of expanding your network and uncovering new possibilities.

    As a junior you don't have anything to lose by trying new things and reaching out to people. I'm not sure where your located but if you're in Hong Kong I'd be happy to get a coffee, or if your located elsewhere lets exchange emails or skype sometime to chat more!

    1 point
  • Dan Shilov, 8 months ago

    Hey Rachel! This is a great question. Have you talked to the senior designer about this situation? What was their response? Did you raise this to your manager? Your concern is valid and if I were in your shoes I'd bring it up. If the the issue is that he thinks the quality of work is not to par - ask the designer what would make it better.

    How big is your team, do you have other designers you could learn from? How's the local design community where you're at? I'd also get connected with other folks and find opportunities for mentorship (not just on the design side but on ways to handle some of the collaboration stuff at work)

    I recently wrote an article about self-assessing skills as a designer - take a look and let me know if there's anything that resonates with you there

    0 points
  • Account deleted 8 months ago

    I worked at an agency for over a year as a junior UI/UX designer, but I was usually assigned to do less important design tasks such as drawing icons and illustrations. Even when the senior designer asked me to do some UI design or web design for products, he would always use his own design instead of my output.

    did you communicate why he was using his own designs instead of yours? Ask him. and tell him to be brutal as you're looking for answers.

    I feel like I would never be able to be a senior UI/UX designer if I kept doing this loop because I will never have the opportunity to design a complete product to enrich my portfolio.

    there's no such thing. never lose trust in you. if you can't grow your self esteem, just try to ignore that though for a good amount of time and focus on creating good stuff.

    I'd ask the community how do you grow from a junior UI/UX designer to a senior one? What is your pace?

    ok list of what to do,

    1) ignore the stupid articles on designer news. there are good ones but there are lots of misleading ones as well. 2) focus on observing yourself. try to notice your work pattern. do you slack off alot? don't do that. do you find yourself listening to music while working? don't listen then. etc. 3) mimic what's have been successful before. do not try to invent from scratch. what you're doing is not art. basic interactions are already been solved. you don't need to invent lightbulb again. 4) proove your worth. create dribble designs sketches everyday. even though when you did 40 dribbles it might not attract any attention. just observe, if it doesn't attract any attention there might be something wrong again. ask for reviews alot. not from dribble though. maybe from reddit. definetaly not here. 5) if your dribble / behance account nourishing and your company won't assign better tasks for you, some other company would offer a new job by that time. it's their loss.

    basically if you work hard, people would notice and you'll get your title.

    Titles are bullshit. don't focus on corporate labels. just focus on your work.

    Also, I wish I was doing only icons and illustrations now. Seriously, enjoy your time and don't rush anything. Even if it's icons that you have to do, try to make them perfect.

    0 points
    • Rachel Li , 8 months ago

      Hey George! Thanks for your advice!

      I have one more follow-up question.

      Why do you wish only doing icons and illustrations? Don't you think that doing all of this is not worth the value of doing a full UI and UX product design?

      I feel in an app product, icons and illustrations are very easy to be replaced, because there are many free customizable illustrations and icon resources online to download, but to design a complete app user flow and user experience can't find free resources on the Internet and the responsible designer also cannot be replaced easily, so the designer's value and status in the company will be more important.

      I always feel like I'm doing something unimportant that can be replaced at any time.

      0 points