I‘ve been working in the Digital Industry over the last 12 years in France and in the USA. I had the opportunity to be mentored by great designers, creative directors and I met extremely talented designers while working on various projects (B2C, B2B, E-commerce, campaigns…). The idea of publishing insights about my job was never a priority, but I’ve reached that time of my life where helping junior designers avoid common mistakes and be more efficient is inherently becoming a new part of my work. Which is why I am sharing these tips that are simple, easy to implement and can have a big impact on growth for a junior designer.
Just to be clear, these tips are not design lessons. They’re simple ideas you can easily apply and experiment to see if they can help junior designers feel more confident in their roles and on the job.
I hope you find them useful.
1. Don’t rush on your computer
A big mistake from many junior designers is to start a project by jumping like starving zombies on their computers right after the brief. Sketching layouts on a piece of paper or a notebook gives you a bigger picture and helps you explore options before opening your favorite software.
This is a very personal opinion but subconsciously, hand drawing helps me think, when using softwares puts me in an “execution/production” mode.
2. Put your ego aside
As a creative, you know that your job is to design interfaces that are usable and elegant. You will probably be inspired by existing apps or websites, and especially as a junior designer you’ll be eager to add your personal “touch” in every project. That’s completely natural.
Unfortunately, you’ll face many people who don’t share the same passion and sensitivity for aesthetic, so get ready to loose some battles even if it’s hard to accept critics on something that can be so subjective.
The best advice I can give you is to refrain yourself from thinking that each project will provide you with momentum. You’ll have yours. Be patient. The job of a designer all about compromise.
3. Take a step back
Time is running faster and faster in our industry so that many designers are under a lot of pressure, which can especially impact a junior designer. It’s subsequently easy to spend hours on Sketch or Photoshop without taking the time to just sit back and look at what you’re doing as if you were completely new to the projet.
What are you supposed to do on this layout? Do you understand the design? Does it feel easy to interact with? Is it breathing? Can you read the copy properly? It just takes 10 minutes to look at your work with a new perspective.
The more you work on a composition, the harder it gets to see it from a client or a user perspective. Don’t obsess over the details, look at the bigger picture (proportion, balance, hierarchy, etc.).
4. Change your posture
How many times a week do you feel surrounded by a horde of people looking at your screen while you’re sitting at your desk? To me, this is a poor habit that you can change.
Too often, the posture of the designer is similar to a kid being judged by adults. You’re not presenting your computer screen, you’re presenting your your work and the thinking behind it. Ideally, try to find a high office desk to present your design to other team members. Everyone will be standing up and you’ll feel much more empowered.
If there’s no high spot in your office, invite people to sit down next to you. Keep in mind that the goal is to have everyone at the same level.
5. Get feedback from anyone around
As a designer, you’re probably working in an open space, whether it’s a company or a co-working place. In both cases, don’t hesitate to show your work to anyone around you. Art directors, UX/UI designers and any other employees nearby can offer you constructive feedback and different perspectives on how to improve it. Call it “Guerrilla testing” when you present it to the Client.
Don’t think that you’ll be a disturbance. Designers usually feel grateful when you come to them for feedback or guidance. Chances are strong that they’ll do the same with you next time!
6. Find the rational behind everything you’re crafting
It’s probably the most important tip of all. How many times have I heard a client ask things like “So, what’s the rational behind this color’s choice?”. Same goes for typography, buttons, photography…
Don’t feel judged. Clients simply want to understand your thinking and make sure they can explain it internally as well. It’s a good exercise to start thinking about your design choices (i.e “Typography is light to convey elegance and sophistication…”, “The photography is vibrant to bring energy to the page…”, “The line width is short to limit the number of characters and facilitate legibility.”).
I hope these tips can help you in your daily routine as a growing UI designer or as an art director. This list will probably change overtime but it is a good starting point. Feel free to contact us and don’t hesitate to share your own experiences and tips for budding UI designers.
This post was originally published on Medium by Florian, available here.