1. Listen to the opinion of others
Let’s face it, more often than not, designers tend to have a ‘hard shell’. We end up thinking our ideas and processes are the best, so much so that we can easily get offended when others tell us otherwise.
If you’re a good designer, you’ll probably be right the majority of the time. But there will be occasions where you’ll be blinded by how much love and effort you’ve put into your work.
Yes, it has its advantages but it has its disadvantages as well. Listening to other people, however, should never be ignored. Most likely they’re looking from a different angle, from afar and their insights might be considering other factors that our poisoned look can sometimes overlook.
Even though you should stand by your vision, listening to other people and being open to collaboration will for sure improve the overall outcome of our work with every iteration.
Not from clients only (even though that’s important too) but mainly from your designer peers.
2. Create insanely different experiences
You are not an executant! You are not just a designer. You are a thinker. You should think different for every project.
If you work in a company that designed a hit, that has ever since been working on the same type of project for one single kind of client, consider leaving. Your progression as a designer will stagnate if you’re stuck to a routine. It’s time to evolve and broaden your range of skills!
If you have the goal of being a great designer, you need to leave!
If you aim to become THE best designer, the ugly truth is you must definitely leave!
Relate to what I’ve just said? Why the hell are you still reading this? You have an email to send.
This article can wait! Go change your future!
Designers need to think differently on every project, every single time. Not for the sake of just being different — that’s stupid — but because each project is a chance to make yourself better, with a wider range of tools…
But also, thinking differently is about figuring out how you can improve other people’s experiences as they use the interfaces you created! It is about thinking of different ways of creating a remarkable, memorable experience.
“Life is about creating and living experiences that are worth sharing.“
— Steve jobs.
3. Make your decisions wisely
The third tip, in a way, is related to tip 2: we are not tools on our clients’ hands. What I mean is, even though the clients are paying for your services, we (most of the time) know what we are doing. We studied the matter and we are experienced, I assume.
Yet you shouldn’t disregard the client’s opinion, you should stick to your point but at the same time, you need to be able to take a step back and realize whether the client is right or not.
Anyway, you should always lay down your motives and try to make the clients understand why what you’ve done it different from what they think is right.
Sometimes you’ll convince your clients, sometimes you won’t. Maybe neither of you is right but then both of your insights, combined together, will congregate in a much better solution.
4. Choose your battles
When you work in close contact with the client, most likely he’ll constantly be giving you feedback on what you’ve done.
Everyone is entitled to their opinion and (unfortunately 🤣) it doesn’t exclude your clients.
Of course, you’re entitled to stand by the choices you’ve made, but some times, they are not worth fighting for, for the sake of a bigger picture. There are a lot of minor changes that don’t harm the usability neither the UI. Plus, quite often those are changes that can be swiftly done and will please the client.
One thing we always stand for, regardless of who the clients is, would be to always give it a try on any client’s input. And even though in the beginning it was tough, eventually it worked out.
We ended up picking up fewer fights and the result was still good. Anything can look good with the right amount of care and effort.
Anyway, I’m getting off-topic. As far as the battles go, there are those “not worth fighting for” ones, right? Does it affect the User Experience? Does it affect the Ui grandly?
If the answer No, it’s not worth it fighting for.
“You need to choose your fights wisely”
You need to choose your fights wisely. If you don’t, you’ll be constantly frustrated and easily unmotivated. You need to understand you have to lose a few battles to win a war.
As I said on the tip 3 you need to listen to your client’s opinion and just let them win a few minor battles and take their ideas forward. Give them something. Then wisely pick the ones you really want to win, they will take your “No” much easier.
5. If you’re not failing, you’re not trying.
On our job, like anything in our lives, it’s easier when we’re in our comfort zone. We know we are good at something and we stick to it, we become hostages of our own success.
We use the same fonts, the same colors, the same layout, the same interactions.
We stick to a recipe we know will work, that we know it will please the client.
It is easy to cook it every time, you know the pattern, it can’t go wrong.
Why should I try something different if everything looks good ?
– I’m asking.
The problem is: it stops your evolution. We become imprisoned t4o a style that won’t compromise your success.
A design should be polyvalent. We should be able to adapt to every project.
Each project has its own specifications, its own target groups and even its own personality. You should think of whom you’re designing for. You must think about the people that will be using the interface you are creating. What might have worked for a younger target group might not work for an older generation, as an example. You must adapt.
And by adapting, as you know, I mean doing it differently: new fonts, new colors, new structures, new strategies, new animations, new interactions — always with the end-user in mind.
The result of trying new things is unpredictable, though. It won’t be easy to obtain a good result when exploring different stuff. Still, you are evolving.
And even if the client doesn’t approve it, at least you got the luggage ready to be carried on a future project.
“We shouldn’t be afraid to fail- if we are not failing we are not pushing. 80% of the stuff in the studio is not going to work. If something is not good enough, stop doing it.”
— Jony Ive
6. Don’t be different just to be different.
Probably, this is the most controversial subject of this article.
Yes, we should leave our comfort zone and try different things. But this time I’m talking about another kind of difference.
I’m talking about the design that is different just for the sake of being different. The problem is the design shouldn’t just be different, it must be better. Design is not just about pretty pixels. Design is more than that. Design is about engaging with customers and creating experiences.
A beautiful pixel matters but a great experience matters more.
– Somebody else
Increasingly, I’ve been seeing shots — on Dribbble– that are just ‘different things’. It’s easy to do a design that stands out. Just grab an iPhone X mockup, create a fake store with beautiful photos, just a few words and strong colors or gradients and your shot is a granted hit! A lot of likes, buckets, and ‘congratulations’ comment.
Oh, and I forgot the “Please take a look at my work” ones. Those are great! We all love them.
The ‘real-life’ is really different though. Real-life doesn’t have Unsplash pictures, real life has lots of text, huge product descriptions, and a whole lot of different things that are not seen in those eye bleach shots.
So, why should you ‘lie’ and do something unrealistic just to have a good Dribbble shot? You should not! I don’t mean you shouldn’t practice and making those shots is good training, but the absence of reality kind of bugs me out.
When you are working with real clients you’ll have real content. Content is for real people. On real-life projects, you need to think further about the people who will be using your interface. If you simply don’t care about people, people will not care about your design.
Yeah, do different (almost unrealistic) things is easy but to do actually working things — that makes sense — is a lot harder.
Different is easy. Make it pink and fluffy! Better is harder.
— Jony Ive
I will definitely keep you posted on how things are going.
Until next time,
Filipe is from Valongo. Most likely you don’t know where it is, but either way, you don’t want to find out.
He may or may not be a lead designer at Significa, highly depends on the weather forecast.
You can find him on Instagram.