Behind the Banter: 03–Junior designers

There’s more resources than ever for junior designers to get started in the field. Whether that’s a YouTube tutorial, code example or Slack group to reach out to mentors in the industry, there are countless ways for a designer to learn.

The bar for designers is higher than ever (a good thing), and it’s constantly being raised (a very good thing). Designers not only need to consider aesthetics but also internationalization, accessibility, ease of use, technical implications, user testing, research, ethics, a plethora of devices and much more. In order for the field of interactive design to be taken seriously, we need to set the expectation for incoming designers to the appropriate level and help bring them up to speed as fast as possible… but hard learned lessons, time and experience (read: years) of practicing the craft and process is ultimately the only way to keep getting better.

Discovering design

On this episode, there were a few of us that grew up in rural areas. For me, that was a small Michigan town with a population of just over 4,000. I felt like I had a huge disadvantage being late to discovering design (during my freshman year of college). Maybe I didn’t have a full understanding of what design was or awareness of what the industry was like — especially not interactive — but I didn’t realize until later that in some way or another I had been practicing for this my entire life. If there’s one standing question I had after re-listening to this episode, it would be: how do we bring awareness of our industry to students everywhere earlier? I would have hated to miss out on my passion just because nobody ever told me about it.

It takes many years of experience

What I didn’t realize early on was that getting better just takes time. I wish I could say that after 5/10/15/25/50/n years in this industry you’ll do work that’s always amazing. But even comparing my measly 7 years of professional experience as a designer to others who have over double that… it doesn’t appear to be the case. Everyone, at all levels of design, has to work hard and put the hours into a design for it to work.

Your taste should always outpace your abilities (how else could you grow?) and this will result in hating your own work. But I’ll tell you right now: that’s OK. Use that feeling to push yourself to get better. Don’t use it as a reason for why you don’t belong in this industry, because you do.

Just like exercise and training: the workouts never get easier, you just get stronger.

Redacted: Arrive early, leave late

If there’s one thing I could change that I said in the episode it would be: “Arrive early, leave late.” For some unhealthy reason this industry, myself included, is obsessed with bragging about the number of hours or late nights worked. I would rather tell a junior designer to improve focusing on work while at work. I think work ethic is extremely important and hours worked are not the true indication of true participation and useful work on a project. The internet will be there when you get home.

Passion

There’s one point that everyone could agree on this episode: passion cannot be taught. This isn’t the easiest industry to be in, you will always be challenged and always be learning things that you never expected. For me, I love it and I can’t imagine doing anything else. If one is considering design as a profession, really consider if there’s a love for the craft, the process and the end result. The awards and the money are fleeting and only provide extremely short moments of happiness (at least for me). What I do find myself remembering are the very few projects that ship and can actually make a difference.

More uncut and more feedback

We’re continually playing with and adjusting our formula because we haven’t exactly found what this podcast is. We do know we are working on making the episodes even more unedited in the hope we will be more honest and vulnerable. In return, we ask that you — the listener — give us feedback and hopefully join us as we experiment with more live episodes. We want to know what works, what doesn’t and we truly hope you let us know when you disagree. All we can present to you is our opinion based on our individual experience. Your opinion and experience is just as valid as ours. We need to hear from you for this experiment to work.

We really do want to hear from you. Let us know the moment you discovered design! Please send feedback, questions, comments or suggestions on twitter, or via email at podcast@rallyinteractive.com