I have spent a lot of my time listening to and reading about what other designers do. Design leaders that seem to be in good paying jobs, doing good work. And I have learned a lot from what they have shared. But there comes a time when you must take the next step in your profession and life. You must practice it, you must do it.
Learning from others will only get you so far. At some point you must do it for yourself. The first step is hard, but once you do it, you recognize that it is a far superior way of learning.
I am not saying that you stop reading and finding those designers that have made the mistakes and tell you what to avoid and can tell you, from their experience, what has worked best for them. Of course, continue this.
I used to read about interviewing and prototyping with people and complain about how we don’t do that at…insert name of current employer. And could talk for hours about how we should do it. We need a system, a process, a way to quantify, a way to qualitate, we need everyone to buy into this idea.
One day I learned that users regularly came into the building. I got my prototype ready and waited for one to show up downstairs and I asked her if she had a couple minutes to chat. I chatted with her for a little bit, showed her the prototype, and then waited for the next one. I didn’t ask permission or wait for my manager to set up time on my calendar, or for the design team to establish a ‘design process.’ I just did it.
I then documented that feedback and shared it with the team. And they thought it was great. We changed the design of the product as a result. Wow, easy.
Of course you won’t get everything right the first time, but that is why you are doing it. You won’t know for certain what is right, or what is wrong by talking about it. The rate in which you learn will be exponential. I think there is some truth to the saying, fake it ’til you make it. I have found that the only thing stopping you from doing great work, from learning your craft faster, is you. So just do it.
If this post does nothing for you, my good friend Slava, recommends this…