5 traits every designer should have
Over the years the concept of what’s a designer has been evolving and now more than ever. Design was and still is something susceptible of opinions, likes and dislikes, pretty and ugly, etc. Industrial design, graphic design, fashion design, web design, whatever design, are all disciplines people have an opinion about, good or bad, but I believe it’s on the verge of changing.
With the rise of digital design we are witnessing a shift of what a designer has to be. A multidisciplinary professional capable to adapt to the most various environments, some people call it ‘unicorns’, some call it ‘generalists’, I call it just designer.
Nowadays people expect a designer to understand layout composition, typography, color theory, content strategy, user experience, front-end development, user interaction, user interface, business strategy and the list keeps on growing. And on top of this we add the never constant and always growing digital industry such as internet of things, wearables, virtual reality, augmented reality, etc.
So what does a designer need to have in order to succeed in such high demanding time we live in? In my opinion every designer should have at least these 5 traits.
To become a successful designer you will have to present your ideas and no one will take you seriously if you doubt your own work. When you are about to present an idea to a client or to your design manager they expect you have the solution to their problems. You’ve done your user research, went over pages and pages of requirements, user testing and prototypes, so the last person to doubt about anything is yourself.
Doing all the prep work is almost guaranteed you cover pretty much everything you need in order to do a great job, but not everything. There will be times your ideas will be challenged or someone else has a better one than yours, that’s when you have to be humble and accept that you don’t know everything. That is why designers work best in teams, it’s not by chance “two heads are better than one”.
Design is everything but subjective. It exists to solve a specific problem or trigger some kind of emotion or even both, but every outcome is almost ‘calculated’. Design has a purpose and not subject of interpretation, it’s not art. That is why a designer needs to have focus on solving the end problem(s). For example, the wheel was designed to support a platform in order to facilitate the transportation of something, this is design.
Be open minded
Design has principles and rules. These conventions are made up by humans in order to create order and avoid chaos. Because of our history and experiences we have witnessed certain concepts work better than others, but progression only exists if someone questions these conventions. A designer needs to push those boundaries in order to achieve success. An example would be the iPhone. The concept of a touch smartphone was already in place for a while but someone had the open mind attitude to question certain conventions. And by doing so we saw a new era of mobile devices being born.
Every designer will go through a phase of looking at others’ work, of following trends and be part of an ecosystem that lives of what is hype. I was and probably am part of that too. But I believe there is a time in a designer’s life that being true to yourself is more important than any shot or any upload you do. To know you made the right thing and improved the world by a little bit, that is the ultimate reward.
In conclusion, I am confident that these are the ultimate traits every designer needs to have in order to be great. But I’m humble enough to accept I might be wrong. When I decided to write this I wanted to show other people what a designer is and I am fully aware that is not what a designer will be. The only thing I know for sure is a designer will always be responsible for changing how we see the world.