19 Nov 21

To those new to design

This article has been very influential in my career early on. I came across it randomly and to this day some of the items on this list come to my mind very often. My favorites:

  • Your first priority is to understand the problem, not just provide ideas or solutions. Anyone has ideas, but not anyone can deeply understand the why.
  • Don't fall in love with tools. Stay flexible.
  • You can do design without research. You can also drive blindfolded .
  • Don't worship design celebrities or designers who speak in conferences.
  • San Francisco, New York, London need designers, but so do any other city in the world. Design is everywhere.
  • Your user is very very very different than you. Don't ever forget this.
  • Great designers know they can still improve. Bad designers think they're awesome.
  • Find good mentors who will challenge you. They're not always older, they're not always in design.
  • Do not ever pull the ladder up behind you. Help others get to where you are.
  • Ask dumb questions. Be the dumbest person in the room.
  • Learn to communicate with people who speak a different business language than you.
  • Most of your time at work will be outside of the tool you use to push pixels around.
  • Your job is less important than your self care, and burnout is real. Design is a marathon, so keep the long distance in mind.
  • Don't let anyone tell you diversity is a bad thing.
  • Always hold your work with an open hand. Be open to criticism and remember you're not a genius.
  • Work with a great team at least once. They're not always in big name companies, but they're happy and love their teammates.
  • No-asshole rule. Never work with them.

And the lastly, a quote:

Stay optimistic. It is very easy for design to make you hard. Frustration, exasperation, resignation will eat at you until you are dark humored and sarcastic. Fight back. The optimistic can see the vision clearly and will keep urging the team toward that goal. But never, ever mistake happy, sunny positivity for optimism. The most optimistic people I know are not rays of sunshine; they are realists who keep believing in the face of the frustration.


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