Being a designer has never been an easy job for me. Each project is different. One after another, you’re droned continuously over with rambling thoughts and rushed team planning. It happened to me. Back in the days when I graduated, I used to think UX design is just as good as that taught in the design school.
When I joined the practical stream, the difference was too vast. The theories were just theories. Practical experience was a fast-paced dimension, something that can get you a speed ticket for over-speeding. However, I too, was caught in the eye of the storm. At first, everything seemed so good, but then I noticed my overall productivity going down. I would usually hit the block, find instructions hard to follow, and lose my concentration.
I was working as a UX designer at a professional logo design company in Dallas. It was until then that I searched for the good habits of competent designers (actually, they showed up in my feed) and learned some great things that helped me steer towards becoming a better UX designer.
What I’m going to share might not be the technical tips or shortcuts you may learn as a UX designer, but I can assure you that these great habits will help you achieve the state of nirvana in your workflow.
Organize Your Work
Anyone can get easily overwhelmed with numerous project flows, team hassles, and client pushes. There was a time I couldn’t help but neatly organize my desk. But as time moved forward, I realized that organization is a crucial skill that somehow gets lost in your fast-moving workplace.
Organization isn’t about keeping your pencils sharpened in the holder or fixing that pile of notes in your drawer; it’s about harmonizing and structuring your skill management ability and the workflow simultaneously.
I learned that creating a pipeline for multiple projects with colorful digital sticky notes (with details of the project) or an Excel sheet with project start dates, urgency level, features, and deadlines helps save you significant time when you are running multiple projects at hand. Honestly, this type of organization works for beginners and pros alike because it’s simple and yet so effective.
Learn And Adapt
Learning is easier said than done. It’s like that hard but sweet candy that makes your mouth ache. You have the choice to either enjoy the taste as it dissolves slowly or crush it between your jaws and hurt yourself. Whether you’re a freelance UX designer or the one serving full-time, learning comes with experience. I’ve seen people who either enjoy the taste of success later or regret taking hasty decisions.
In my case, I became a learner after making mistakes in the first place. I started cultivating the idea to research, anticipate, and plan before I started a project. It gave me a sense of power over myself and the situation. You see, learning from your mistakes becomes an asset. You’re always expanding your skills, which help you adapt to challenging conditions in turn.
Also, seek opportunities to learn from others. It could be your team lead, your fellow designer, or the developer Carl or even the client. Everyone will provide you a chance to learn something; you need to pay attention.
Go Where You Belong
When you need to shop for groceries, you know where the local supermarket is. With all the choices in front of you, you will undoubtedly recognize the environment of your need. Your instinct guides you, without leaving room for second thoughts.
The case for finding a workplace is similar, but the complexity and intangibility of certain things make this process a little complicated. That’s the reason why people fail at jobs when looking for an ideal one. What makes a designer a good one is his ability to identify the environment that’s right for him.
During my initial years in the field, I once watched Michael Bierut conversing in a presentation on clients. What struck me was the answer to the question: “What should I look for in a work environment?”
The answer was BRAINS, PASSION, TRUST, and COURAGE. Each of these qualities represents excellent benefits on their own, but in a place where these qualities are present, whether you’re a designer or the janitor, you just thrive overall. Trust enables the company to rely on its designers’ abilities and instincts. Passion helps them move forward, where courage strengthens them to take risks. In the end, the brain connects the dots and gives you the perfect sense of understanding.
Even if you take out one pillar, the three others won’t be able to support the whole structure.
Rewrite Your Habits
In the industry where we develop designs and software, we aim to create error-free projects. Sure, it’s a supreme goal, but there would come a time that it would hurt you. For instance, we believe in specific rules, practices, and processes to be the optimum and that nothing exists beyond them. As good as this thinking looks in theory, practice proves it wrong.
If I wrote this article a decade ago, you would find it different from the values observed in your time. For example, you won’t have to follow the old school method to use post-it notes or use the Excel sheet; you could be using some other advanced tool. Who knows?
What makes a designer effective is his ability to evolve and rewrite his habits. From the start to the end of their career, they remain curious and on the lookout for something that improves their work process. And with this final habit, I also took on it and became a chameleon. I started soaking up experiences, and to date, I can assure you that I had improved as compared to when I started.
As time passes by, you can evolve that helps you survive. Keep evolving because that’s how you’ll grow.
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