Typewriter
Typewriter
Illustration by undraw.co

Put yourself in the shoes of a designer interviewer for a second.

Their main goal is to understand if there’s evidence in a candidate’s past that demonstrates they could be the right fit for their company. Their imperfect company. Their organization where there are challenges and where things go wrong, where there’s a stated culture, including how designers work with peers.

Now they’re probably reviewing hundreds of portfolios a month, trying to find clues to paint a picture of each prospective designer.

How could you cut through the noise and help the interviewer do their job?


Feedback session at work
Feedback session at work
Illustration by Kika Fuenzalida

When I was studying art, everyone around me lived and breathed design. I had found my tribe. I never had to explain the value of my work because everyone got it. Designers just get it. Fast forward a few years when I joined my first organization, I naively expected the same. After all, studying design was meant to prepare me for real-life situations, right? The reality was quite different.

Every time a non-designer would come across my work, we’d talk about it, hoping to improve it. The person would quickly turn into a critic armed with good intent. Sadly, the conversations were focused on minor details, leaving essentials topics untouched. I ended up with countless improvised hovering art directors telling me I was using the wrong shade of blue. …


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By Loni Thompson for Mixit

You’re sitting in a meeting room with your coffee, waiting for your manager to show up for your one-on-one session. You can’t help feeling happy that someone is helping you with your career. After all those years, someone finally cares. She arrives. After a brief chat about career development, she asks you: “Where would you like your career to go?”.

No answers. Your desire for personal growth is undeniable. You love learning and aspire to have a career. But when specifically asked about details, you realize it’s difficult to choose a specific career path. There are just too many things you like in design, and your passion blocks you. The situation happens again. It becomes frustrating. …


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Designers can have a more significant impact than pushing pixels and can help with the totality of what we produce. But this can only be achieved when product design is implemented from the start, at the strategy level.

When I was first asked to work on the strategy, I had no idea where to start. What does it even mean? If you feel the same way, don’t worry, I’ve been there.

My goal is to equip you with enough knowledge to start working on it, whether you’re in a startup or an established company.

What is a good strategy, and why do you need one?

A good product design strategy will help you coordinate teams and de-risk a project. It means protecting revenues, reputation, colleagues, and understanding how to learn fast to change the solution if the one you first picked doesn’t work. It also allows leaders to empower product teams to find the best solution to a problem. …


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As you progress in your career, you may find that the growth areas become less obvious. As a young designer, focusing on the craft makes sense, but once you become strong enough in it, soft skills come into play. Delivering value can be done outside of your core craft, and while many soft skills are essential (collaboration, communication, etc.), I believe business can help designers go to the next stage.

At some point in your job, you’ll probably want to have a say in what your company is building.

Having a business level mindset will help you have a say in product decisions while eventually help you build better products, and have an easier time making design trade-offs. …


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Photo by Daniel Cheung

After years of producing designs, I wanted a new challenge, something that would involve more leadership, be more involved in the decision-making process. I wanted to influence what my company and the design team could do.

I came across this “design leadership” term and got intrigued, and it sounded like what I wanted to do! After reading more about it, I decided to set my new goal: to become a design leader. But there was only one minor issue…

I had no idea what design leadership involved, and furthermore how to get there.

I can’t say that I know everything about it, but I’ve made a lot of mistakes and learned a few things along the way on top of meeting incredibly talented people who supported me on this continuous journey. …

About

Stéphane Martin

Principal UX designer @ Riot Games. I write about design leadership, product design strategy, and UX career. https://stephaneondesign.com/

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