Design “influencers”

Regardless if digital or physical, experience should be held accountable when impacting real people.

Adrian Storm
Aug 17, 2019 · 5 min read

To design is to influence.

To design is to influence people. To design is to build new connections in people’s mind. To design is to build relationships where previously weren’t any.
— Mike Monteiro

imilar to Medium, much of the UI and UX knowledge is geared towards the new designer. A creature which is highly sensible to new information and hungry to assimilate. So why not have access to the right knowledge and information around the web?

Organizations like @the-interaction-design-foundation or nn/g are trying to teach the new generation a proper way to do think and design experiences. With thought-out courses and certifications. A way to get recognized by your fellow designer, recruiters and clients.

I grew up in a world where you’d be recognized by the work you’ve done and not the degree you hold. Experience and actual work was and still is a lot more powerful than a design degree from an art or design school. For me the Smashing Magazine Book 1 was the design bible. It had everything: ux, ui, code, color theory, e-commerce, you name it.

The real world of employment is a lot different from what schools teach you. Mostly because, by the time you finish school, the design world has had four trend changes, a bunch of tools have come and gone, Photoshop is no longer the design tool and a myriad of buzzwords are waiting to be learnt and laughed at.

So what’s a fresh new designer to do? Search for publications with specialized information and articles, inspiration websites and so on.

Before Instagram, Dribbble was the place for pissing contests and testament to bragging rights. To have been invited to Dribbble was a moment of joy and blissful validation. The design world would open it’s heavenly gates and let you inside a world of friendly collaboration, constructive criticism and camaraderie. — Are you laughing yet?

It started as a way to show in-progress work and ideas while having other designers pitch an opinion and provide some early feedback. It sadly turned into a pixel perfect trend-following portfolio. Probably the reason Forrst died.

The cancer

A while ago I’ve started an Instagram account in order to keep my design work separate from my main, travel, account.

Of course, I started to also look for fellow designers and similar accounts. What I found baffled me. The most followed accounts were the ones with the least value and reposters. Accounts that search for others work and repost it with a tag. The latter don’t annoy me as much, because they save me time to search for good designers.

Which leaves me to the “influencers”. Like their big brothers, these accounts don’t actually post their own work or original content. You find the same old recycled material.

Fourteen fonts you absolutely need to use today.

If you take a few of these and start looking through them it’s like browsing Cosmopolitan; commercials and two pages of actual content. You find obscure and incomplete information, designed for likes and not much else. It’s sad that pleasing an algorithm is more important than your content. It feels just like watching TV. You thought you would get informed but it’s actually dumbing you down.

For instance, one such account posted about “color psychology” and listed a few colors and what emotion and feelings they transmit. While this is true for colors, they mean different things in different cultures. A missing piece of information from the post. Because of this, reading the description is like reading the horoscope: abstract.

Another account (60k+ followers) was instructing users, among other things, that password input fields should always show the password because “the user doesn’t know he misspelled it”. Of course, the correct way to do this is by displaying an icon for show/hide password. But put yourself in the shoes of a new designer that takes this piece of info to heart.

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Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash

It’s your responsibility to share proper knowledge

The examples are too many to share but if you have a large audience or any audience for that matter, think about it like your Hippocratic oath.

People need to realize that attention is everything. Creating pretty squared information cards with misleading or incorrect information is nothing less than pervasive.

Liking every comment and agreeing with everyone but those who actually share a different opinion and start a conversation (and I’m not talking about ‘haters’ here) is just lazy and disrespectful towards your audience.
One would argue that the space provided is restrictive and information needs to be compacted. Rightfully so; because Instagram was created for sharing snapshots. Not for sparking healthy arguments about design. But the question persists: “Why do it at all if not in a adequate environment?”

A designer welcomes a diverse and competitive field.
Throughout their entire career, a designer seeks to learn.

— Mike Monteiro in his Ruined by design book.

What this means is while learning, people will most often listen to more experienced peers, coming from diverse environments and cultures.
I strongly support this as long as your interest is keen on really helping others and not yourself. As long as the information you put out is not a trojan horse.
Don’t be a dick, don’t set other to fail. Posting quotes, other people’s work and making lists is not work.

How would you feel if we needed a license to practice UX?
I for one think it would be the ultimate sign of maturity in the field.

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Mic drop

Bad designers aren’t unknowledgeable. Bad designers exploit.

We need to think about what we have to say rather than how perfect our pixels are.

Creating interfaces that hurt our mind is just weaponized design. Using social platforms that are already addictive and exploitative of our human vulnerabilities to boost your subscriber number makes you the person in the “free candy” van parked across the school.

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Medium's largest active publication, followed by +734K people. Follow to join our community.

Adrian Storm

Written by

Experience Designer at heart. Senior UX at IBM. All opinions are my own.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +734K people. Follow to join our community.

Adrian Storm

Written by

Experience Designer at heart. Senior UX at IBM. All opinions are my own.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +734K people. Follow to join our community.

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