Survival Guide for a Young Designer

I stepped into the world of UX and UI Design fresh out of college. What I had, was only a vague idea about the two terms at the time. I didn’t know what exactly happens in a designer’s workday! It can be a little overwhelming for a new designer in the beginning. I had doubts about how will I survive as a designer? As I began working on live projects, things started to get clear in the head.

So here is a bundle of my observations, experiences and learning about surviving as a young designer and keep on moving ahead. Hope this helps new designers or anyone who aspires to become a designer.

Eat Sleep Design Repeat

Developing an eye for good design is something that takes practice. Once you develop it, it works like an always on switch. There’s no way to turn it off!

You will find yourself seeing design patterns in everyday things. People around you might even get annoyed at you. That’s when you’ll realize you have completely immersed yourself in design.

Create a Reference Library

It will be your lifesaver!

Until you see great designs, you won’t be able to create one! There are a lot of amazing free resources available for your daily inspiration. These are the ones that I find extremely helpful. Explore and create your Reference Library!

Be Persistent

Success is to flow like water through the road of rocks

I had this poster in my house since I was growing up. My Dad used to tell me, if you’re facing challenges know in your heart that you’re making progress. A path without challenges never leads to growth.

Don’t be afraid to fail. If you’re stuck, get help from your team members or mentors. Take their feedback positively and keep on iterating. Make new mistakes until you eventually get there.

Don’t Reinvent the wheel…

Source America Explained

Look at Instagram, Youtube, Facebook, Gmail etc. They are successful for a reason. They have established some of the basic design principles which can be adapted into your projects.

For example, navigation patterns, universally accepted icons etc. Users have become habitual to these. They are recognizable in so many languages. Don’t spend your time redesigning them, utilize your energy on what you’re trying to achieve in your project.

Material Design Guidelines is another example. Consider these things as foundation. Build your designer skyline over it.

Focus on the core function

Many times we get into the Function Vs. Features dilemma.

We get highly inspired by something awesome we saw somewhere and try to include it in projects. Few things to consider here:

Need Vs Want.

Analyze what’s the core problem you’re trying to solve through your product. Focus on that one function first. Sort it out and then think about what can you add to it. Don’t work on 5 features at a time, once your foundation is ready, the ‘good to have’ things can be added later on.

Your product should address the core problem in the simplest way without overwhelming users with content.

Get “Inspired”


There’s nothing wrong with creating something which is “inspired” by something else. What you really have to be careful with, you use those inspirations at right places for right reasons. Don’t just blindly copy something ‘cool’. Think it through. Go ahead only if you’re 100% sure that it’s the right solution for your users.

Add your own flavor to it

Use the inspirations in your own way. If you repeat something which is already done in the exact same way, it becomes meaningless.

Do it the way you’d do it. There’s no real fun until you add your own touch to it. You can add a lot of value to the original idea by presenting it in an exciting new way!

Mind your surroundings

If you’re building the product in a competitive environment, you have to be very careful about not being a “me too” product.

Study the competitors well. Find out what features are they catering to and what they’re missing. Also keep in mind what users are anticipating. Geographical location, educational background, tech-savviness all these things have to be considered before you define the problem.

Be outspoken

Don’t feel intimidated by anything or anyone. Not clients, seniors or anyone else around you. Believe in yourself and speak what you know.

I remember my first client conversation — I was scared at the beginning but once I was convinced that what we’re proposing to client is correct, I was able to sell it

Be proactive

When you want to move forward, you need to take some risks and you need to be daring enough. Don’t be scared of hard work and responsibilities.

Responsibilities don’t feel like “work” when you have accepted them with your whole heart. Responsibilities are to “take” not to get by somebody else.

Document Everything

Documentation helps support your decisions. It also helps you to keep track of developments.

Many times we come across some amazing thoughts, ideas, inspirations but when the time comes to execute these ideas, we don’t remember clearly. Documenting then and there helps a lot. Also it provides ready material when you want to share the knowledge with your peers.

10 Survival Points to remember

  • Create a Reference Library
  • Eat, Sleep, Design, Repeat
  • Be Persistent
  • Don’t Reinvent The Wheel
  • Focus on the core function
  • Get inspired, but don’t blindly copy
  • Keep the context in mind
  • Add your flavor
  • Be Outspoken and Proactive
  • Document Everything

I consider myself to be very lucky to be working in design right now. We have technology and we have great inspirations. Each one of us has the potential to deliver something monumental. All that is needed, is to have faith in ourselves and keep on going.

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