Hi Designers!

Whether you’re a fresh graduate or a rather seasoned creative, here’re three bite-sized advices for you to chew on.

Here’s the thing: what takes you further as you contemplate your career path is going to be about your attitude, more than your skills. Skills can be trained, learned and developed – from design/art school, online courses, Youtube videos, learning from a mentor, etc . These are ‘hard skills’. They can be learnt and sharpening them should be lifelong.

‘Soft skills’, a.k.a. your attitude is not a subject that’s being taught in schools. It starts, ends and develops in you and with you.

Hard-skills development is necessary of course, as design tools change (and they WILL keep changing), so your skills need re-learning. But what about ‘attitude’? What is a good frame of mind which designers should adopt to keep them grounded and become a better communicator?

And by the way, “why attitude?”

Attitude matters because it is fertile soil for ideas and creativity. The right attitude unlocks your ability to grow as a person and expands your horizon. It helps you be a better designer. So what are some key attitudes which we should strive to have?

1. Start humble. Be a sponge.

If you’ve just graduated, your actual learning just started. Be hungry to learn. You are going to learn much more out there than you ever did.

Of course for freshies, get employed immediately and don’t wait for the perfect job to knock on your door. Don’t freelance (yet), because you cannot learn as much doing solo. You need industry exposure, you need to learn how to work and brainstorm with other creative minds and really get your hands dirty (with work!). Then when you’ve gained experience, you can decide for yourself the path you’d like to take.

Learn from every person you meet, because everyone’s got something to teach you. Never think that you’re better than someone.

2. Rejections are valuable teachers.

Designers and creative people are possessive over their work. That is good. BUT. What is not so good (which you have to understand…) is that the work you do is not for yourself, it’s for a bigger purpose. We are not artists, we are designers. There lies the difference.

Your work has a function and often, rejects happen because that function is not achieved. Was it to increase the click-through-rate? Was it to lead people to sign-up for an email newsletter? When you do not meet the design objectives, we call that mere ‘creative indulgence’. Understand that when business marries design, we are responsible for the money our client entrusts us with. Our success is measured by results, not praise. And in today’s environment, almost everything is measurable.

Website visits, domain authority, sign-up rates, app ratings and reviews – everything is measurable. This is where UI/UX knowledge comes in, you have to envision yourself using that product, that interface or platform and visualise how to best present information to the audience.

3. Strive for excellence.

Never do just enough. It is not about passing exams. Always exceed expectations, even your own. Understand who your work is for (not your boss). Understand who you want to reach.

What do you want to communicate? Work at making it happen. Research. Ask questions so that you can do a better job. We need creative thinkers. Not just doers, or order-takers. Consumers today need to be engaged and moved emotionally.

Design is a means to create that emotional connection. It will not happen if you are casual towards your design. Design with an agenda in mind. Working hard is a must, but working smart is what will set you apart. Strive to over deliver, every single time.

These are the three things all designers and creatives should learn: (1) be a sponge, (2) learn from rejections and (3) strive for excellence. Success is yours for the taking, and your future is yours for the making. Every day, decide to be a better designer.

– Ken Ray Staff Post

Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels