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Ask DN: Share one quick thing you have learned from real-world experience

almost 5 years ago from , Senior UX Designer @ ForeSee

I just thought this could be a helpful topic for everyone, especially the younger designers out there. I remember being fresh out of school and how different idea of what being a "designer" really was.

I would say the most important / helpful thing I have learned over recent years is that design is so much more than aesthetics and beauty. It is much more about function, and the experiences that you are molding.

Please take a moment and share a helpful tip you have learned from your own professional experiences!

65 comments

  • Jim SilvermanJim Silverman, almost 5 years ago

    a lot of people don't give two shits about quality.

    34 points
    • Chris Doner, almost 5 years ago

      So sad but true.

      2 points
    • Dirk HCM van BoxtelDirk HCM van Boxtel, almost 5 years ago

      This... dear lord, so much of this. Just ... wow.   From not caring about file formats, to mixing up colours (web/print) to destructive editing of files, to just not having any talent or eye for design, to shitty communication... I can go on and on.   Yet somehow some of those people are good at selling themselves and making oodles more money. That, I do respect. Those are some skills that I've yet to perfect to such levels.   Even so, I could never sell less than "good".

      4 points
    • Samuel ZellerSamuel Zeller, almost 5 years ago

      This... What struck me is that the majority of people (and most clients) don't really have good taste and it's really a lot of work to teach them haha

      0 points
  • David DarnesDavid Darnes, almost 5 years ago

    Never assume.

    29 points
  • Mark O'NeillMark O'Neill, almost 5 years ago

    Never fall in love with anything until the client has seen it.

    29 points
  • Martin LeeMartin Lee, almost 5 years ago

    When hiring, look for people who are responsible and have a good work ethic even if they're not the best designer. Design or dev skills can be taught/improved, but it's tough to teach basic life skills.

    16 points
    • Adam Morgan, almost 5 years ago

      Unfortunately, this is one of those things everyone says you should do and almost nobody does in practice.

      3 points
  • Spencer HoltawaySpencer Holtaway, almost 5 years ago

    Say please and thank you, and don't work with people who don't say please and thank you.

    14 points
  • Michael SzczepanskiMichael Szczepanski, almost 5 years ago

    Don't be afraid to admit when you're wrong/don't know.

    14 points
  • Bryce HowitsonBryce Howitson, almost 5 years ago

    Control the critique - Get what you need from a critique by avoiding subjective terms and open ended questions.

    In a critique never end with "what do you think?" or similar questions. Instead define the project goals then ask if what you've created solves that problem. This way you avoid discussing if your client's neighbor's friend's dog will like that shade of blue.

    Pro tip: Don't answer questions in the middle of explaining your work. Leave those for the end of the meeting.

    13 points
  • Catalin CimpanuCatalin Cimpanu, almost 5 years ago

    Let your teammates have some of your glory

    13 points
  • barry saundersbarry saunders, almost 5 years ago

    The more senior you get, the more your job is to recognise and celebrate good work, not necessarily create it yourself. If a junior creates it, you give them all the credit. If you created, well, that's your job, that's why you get paid more.

    Also try to pair dreamers with cynics. Dreamers will come up with amazing ideas and inspire the client, cynics will ensure something actually gets built.

    8 points
  • Ronan CostelloRonan Costello, almost 5 years ago

    Don't take feedback personally - you are not your design.

    Know when to bend and when to push back. Choose your battles wisely. Compromise will become an art in itself.

    7 points
  • Adam HaasAdam Haas, almost 5 years ago

    Good design doesn't sell itself. Be ready to confidently sell your design solutions to the client.

    7 points
  • Bilal MohammedBilal Mohammed, almost 5 years ago

    Be nice.

    6 points
  • Maciej ZadykowiczMaciej Zadykowicz, almost 5 years ago

    Design with real data.

    6 points
    • Adrien PitratAdrien Pitrat, almost 5 years ago

      So true, when doing usability testing there is nothing worse than a tester stop and spend 5 minutes explaining that the data on screen #2 is not the same as data on screen #1...

      0 points
  • Andy LeverenzAndy Leverenz, almost 5 years ago

    Never show a client a concept/comp you hate. Almost 100% of the time they manage to pick it out of the litter leaving you screaming on the inside.

    5 points
  • Clinton HalpinClinton Halpin, almost 5 years ago (edited almost 5 years ago )

    Your going to have to cut scope.

    4 points
  • Daniel GoldenDaniel Golden, almost 5 years ago

    If you decide to do freelance work, your knowledge of people and human nature is just as important of your knowledge of design.

    4 points
  • Daniel GoldenDaniel Golden, almost 5 years ago

    p.s. What an unexpectedly great thread.

    3 points
  • JJ VerhineJJ Verhine, almost 5 years ago

    Your estimates are only as accurate as your ability to track your time everyday.

    3 points
  • Darren MotenDarren Moten, almost 5 years ago

    Biggest One: To organize your catalog. Inspiration, screenshots, resource files, palettes. Don't waste time gathering it if you won't be able to pull from it later.

    Nuggets of Wisdom: 1. Evaluate the brief before selecting the software you use to get it done. I remember trying to use sketch for a massive ui overhaul. Sketch, Photoshop; Invision vs. UX Pin, is all relative if you don't know the scope of the project, and whats most important.

    1. Choose 1 thing to obsess over. The smaller your team, the fewer resources you have to produce those projects that everybody would like to. Instead be selective about where to insert design and be ruthless about cutting production time elsewhere.
    3 points
    • Chris DonerChris Doner, almost 5 years ago (edited almost 5 years ago )

      What kinds of apps do you use for organizing your catalog... I haven't found anything that has worked for me yet.. especially when it comes to creating an inspiration collection. Right now I mostly just use buckets on dribbble

      0 points
      • Darren MotenDarren Moten, almost 5 years ago

        buckets for dribbble pocket (with tags) for tutorials and interesting reads ember for screenshots

        my dropbox is pretty organized. I learned a lot from production designers during my hallmark days. screenshot: http://i61.tinypic.com/2luou10.png

        0 points
        • Shrihari SankaranShrihari Sankaran, almost 5 years ago

          It looks like there's a definite opportunity here. Wouldn't it be better if the locally stored resources could be organised like in Ember?

          1 point
          • Darren MotenDarren Moten, over 4 years ago

            I was just talking about how convenient it would be if osx indexed files the way they index photos with a developer friend.

            0 points
            • Samuel ZellerSamuel Zeller, over 4 years ago

              I use Pixa on OSX to store my inspiration (and it's also synced on Dropbox). I now have over 5000 images (high res) in many categories and I can directly pull them into Photoshop or Indesign and retain the original file link. It's really useful :)

              0 points
  • Quinn Taylor, almost 5 years ago (edited almost 5 years ago )

    Don't lose sight of the project's goals by trying to design something that just looks great. Design should solve a problem and that's what matters most.

    2 points
  • Art VandelayArt Vandelay, almost 5 years ago

    Stop talking and listen.

    2 points
  • Ian WilliamsIan Williams, almost 5 years ago (edited almost 5 years ago )

    Good design isn't always about simplifying. Simplicity is a tool.

    Good design is about ethically controlling interaction, communication, and experience.

    If you don't want someone to take an action, make it hard or complex. If you want someone to feel a certain way (perhaps obligation to join a cause), use appropriate means to do so. If you want someone to laugh, don't make it simple, make it silly.

    2 points
  • Nurp DigglesNurp Diggles, almost 5 years ago

    Always provide options. But not too many options.

    Learn to manipulate those options.

    2 points
  • Michael AleoMichael Aleo, almost 5 years ago

    Don't get mad. It's not worth it, and while you might win the battle, you'll lose the war. Working well with others is more important than almost any level of ability or skill—even if they're wrong.

    2 points
  • Jakub Andrzejewski, almost 5 years ago

    Do user research even if you're designing for yourself.

    1 point
  • Taurean BryantTaurean Bryant, almost 5 years ago

    Communicating the ideas behind as well as the value of your work is a more useful career skill than doing good work.

    1 point
  • Charles LamCharles Lam, almost 5 years ago

    Data will humble the crap out of you. A corollary -- a lot of users don't care how good it looks, but rather how it helps them accomplish what they're trying to do.

    1 point
  • Tom ReinertTom Reinert, almost 5 years ago

    Also, don't wait for inspiration. Get to work, don't rely on fancy tools, blogs, galleries, dribbble, whatever.

    All good work stems from a long and unique process, which you as a consumer don't see, but is the most important part of the work. When you look at great work, you tend to see only the result, which seems to be a stroke of genius. You devalue your own skills, thinking you couldn't have done this. But if you saw the process, you would understand that the final product is the result of hard work.

    So honor your own process, it's what makes your work great and unique. You can rely on it, just get started.

    (excuse the bad grammar, I just had to jot this down quickly. hope it makes sense)

    1 point
    • Samuel ZellerSamuel Zeller, almost 5 years ago

      I agree. I designed point of sale elements for Bvlgari and sometimes for one tiny display I went through 40 iterations. When you look at the final result it's impossible to reproduce it starting from a white page, it's only because of the painful (but creative) process that you achieve something. Kinda like drawing, the more you draw the better you'll get but you'll always have to draw sketches and not start directly with the final details.

      0 points
  • Adrian HowardAdrian Howard, almost 5 years ago

    Ask for more money than you think you're worth.

    1 point
  • James HsuJames Hsu, almost 5 years ago

    I've come to learn that who you know, and how you present yourself go a long way. It's like one of my mentors told me many years ago, even if you're a rockstar designer, nobody wants to work with an asshole.

    That, and don't network — make friends.

    1 point
  • Samantha S, almost 5 years ago

    crack cocaine : drug dealers :: features : product managers

    1 point
  • Pete PetrashPete Petrash, almost 5 years ago

    Under-promise, over-deliver. We love when our expectations are exceeded. You'll also be less inclined to over-extend yourself which can cause designer's block and undue stress.

    1 point
  • Jon MyersJon Myers, almost 5 years ago

    Use the force.

    1 point
  • Cihad TurhanCihad Turhan, almost 5 years ago

    Without doubt, anyone can learn design and code. Very few of them can learn to be creative.

    1 point
  • Andrew LeeAndrew Lee, almost 5 years ago

    Organize your working files (layer order + named layers) or everyone will hate you for eternity.

    1 point
  • Greg JangGreg Jang, almost 5 years ago

    Engineers and designers are exactly the same. Engineers use IDEs we use sketch to solve the same problem. Be friends with them. See how the apps are actually coded. Ask what is an easy development and what is hard to make. Your designs will change for the good.

    0 points
  • Joacim NilssonJoacim Nilsson, almost 5 years ago

    Give everyone a chance to prove themselves.

    0 points
  • Yasmin AndreaYasmin Andrea, almost 5 years ago

    Obvious one, but something that's hard to actually do: stop getting attached to your designs. You may think it's the best thing you've ever created but chances are, either your coworkers or clients will challenge and change it - and you'll learn to embrace this as it allows you to constantly evolve as a designer.

    0 points
  • Shope Johnson, almost 5 years ago

    Be prepared to educate the client and don't get frustrated when they don't see or understand where you are coming from. Many times, it's just because they don't know what you know as a designer/developer.

    0 points
  • Tom ReinertTom Reinert, almost 5 years ago

    Sometimes we need to go for an unperfect / unpolished look to make things feel friendly, familiar and trustworthy.

    Often a design that we would call ugly performes better than the pixel-perfect version. I noticed that in UI design but I guess it applies to other fields as well.

    0 points
  • Sean GeraghtySean Geraghty, almost 5 years ago

    Whenever you are passed a PSD, expect it to be the messiest thing you've ever come across.

    0 points
  • Diego LafuenteDiego Lafuente, almost 5 years ago

    Data is the most important thing in the world. And scientific method is the most precise thing to achieve things.

    0 points
  • Miguel Solorio, almost 5 years ago

    Keep trying

    0 points
  • Chris Doner, almost 5 years ago

    Another one that I've learned, specifically for web/app design; Make your designs nimble and easy to edit/adjust down the road. Things always seem to change and the easier it is to add to and adjust your existing design the better. I've screwed myself a couple of times in the past by not keeping this in mind.

    0 points