8 Things Designers Wish They Could Tell Their Younger Selves

Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash

I am fortunate enough that I occasionally get to speak on panels, many with students. A few months ago I was talking to the Computing and Information Systems Students Association at The University of Melbourne on a panel about UX careers with Pedro Rosas UX and Kate Goodwin.

Because I’m a UXer through and through, I did a bit of research before the panel. I put a call out in our UX slack channel at SEEK and received the following wonderful advice from: Caylie Panuccio, Stephanie Moss, Judy Shaul, Kristen hardy, Leah Connolly, Bella Schoeppe, and Chris McLay.

Their comments fell into 8 themes…

1. Working in tech might not be what you think

“Apparently you *don’t* actually need to know how to code. I thought you had to, kept me away from web design.”

2. You don’t need to know everything before you start

“Chill out, you’ll learn on the job!”
“Learning on the job, in context is soooo valuable.”
“Have faith in your ability to learn.”

3. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try educate yourself

“Read as much as you can.”

4. You’ll never know everything. And that’s OK. Trust that you are learning, and keep going

“You don’t have to be good at all the things. It takes a long time to be ok with ‘being wrong’.”
“You will never finish needing to learn new content and new skills. It’s never done.”
“Only ever work with people who are ok with being wrong some of the time too.”
“Your learnings will be incremental over time. Much like when you see a toddler after a couple of years and they’ve transformed into a “big kid”, yet their parents won’t notice because they see them every day. Don’t worry, the learnings are happening.”

5. Mentors are important

“Pick a few mentors who have strengths in different areas.”

6. But don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with

“Don’t feel pressured to network for the sake of networking. The relationships you’ll form in your work context will be much more valuable — they are deeper because your talent will be shown through the work you do, not how many people you speak to! That one is more for the introverts of the UX world.”

7. That goes for where you work too

“Don’t stick it out in a s — environment where you are unhappy. Change jobs sooner rather than later.”
“It’s ok to leave. It’s not you.”

8. UX your processes too, not just your work

“Always bring your stakeholders on the journey with you. Much easier to get buy-in to your ideas.”
“The last sign-off meeting usually went “this is great, but, can we change everything”, only to go through more iterations to end up with exactly what we had in the first place. Then we started integrating obvious mistakes into our final designs. So he “found” those instead and asked us to remove them. Saved us a ton of time having to rework everything and then revert back to the original concept, so many stories like that.”

What do you wish you knew?