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13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want To Be a Successful UX Designer

13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want To Be a Successful UX Designer

Cut out the things that are holding you back

13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want To Be a Successful UX Designer

Photo by Tanja Heffner on Unsplash

Success has different definitions for everyone. Becoming a great giver upperis essential to succeeding at the things that are important to you. Give up the stuff that is holding you back from becoming a great designer.

“Winners quit all the time. They just quit the right stuff at the right time.” (Seth Godin)

1. Give up thinking you’re an imposter

“I’ve written eleven books, but each time I think, Uh oh, they’re going to find me out now” (Maya Angelou)

Many designers suffer this fate. According to research, Imposter Syndrome affects 7 in 10 people at some point in their lives. It’s very common in high achievers and creatives.

Tanya Livesey gives great tips on how to deal with imposter syndrome:

  • As you grow and move up, be flexible and adaptable as you’ll never know all the answers.
  • Get a mentor. They can be a great support and inspiration.
  • Our inner critical voice usually comes from trying to live up to someone as a child. Tell your inner voice to zip it.
  • Spend more time looking outward rather than inward. Work on being less introspective.
  • Be proud and embrace failure.

2. Give up trying to solve the problem yourself

“There are no problems we cannot solve together, and very few that we can solve by ourselves” (Lyndon B. Johnson)

User experience design is about collaboration between designers, colleagues, the business and users, to get the most useful and usable product created. You need to work with as many people as possible to get their ideas, insights and perspective on what you are designing.

Avoid going solo and get ideas from everywhere.

3. Give up working for a company that doesn’t do proper UX

“Most business models have focused on self interest instead of user experience” (Tim Cook)

Very difficult to grow as a designer if the company you work for doesn’t do the proper UX process. To do the right UX process takes time. If your business doesn’t make time for adequate UX design, it means it’s not a priority.

4. Give up trying to keep up with everything that’s going on in the tech world

“Let whatever you do today be enough”

There’s a lot going on in the world of tech. It can be overwhelming trying to keep up with all the new stuff that’s coming out. Be picky and don’t get too stuck on everything. Find your niche and keep an eye on what’s going on in that area. For everything else, filter it out and keep your intake to a manageable amount.

5. Give up being unhealthy

“The mind and body are not seperate. What affects one affects the other”

To be a good designer you need to be creative, motivated and inspired. You can’t always be inspired, but if you eat crap and don’t do any exercise, your head will get foggy.

You can be unhealthy and design well, but it won’t last. Everything in moderation. Look after your health to give yourself the best chance of becoming an inspired designer.

6. Give up worrying about the tools you design with

“Problems are evergreen; tools and patterns are simply artefacts we shouldn’t be beholden to” (Stephanie Engle)

There are many tools for UX designers, and new ones pop up all the time. Use what works best for you. Use what makes the process as quick, simple and productive as possible.

Keep an eye on the new ones coming and be open to give them a try. Don’t get stuck on your everyday tools as there may be one new one that’ll make your life easier.

7. Give up rushing into Sketch, Figma, Adobe XD, Photoshop etc.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe” (Abraham Lincoln)

“Slow down. Rushing means you miss what’s right here”

Rushing’s not suitable for the UX process. You need to slow yourself down to design purposely.

Jumping ahead is the natural tendency. Personally, I like getting into Sketch, it feels like I’m moving forward, but it’s usually too soon. To create efficient designs, you are wise to stand back at the start and work through your discover and research stages.

8. Give up thinking you can’t get a job at Google, Facebook, Airbnb, Medium etc

“If you want it work for it, it’s as simple as that”

If you want to get somewhere, you need to write it down and work out how the hell you can get there.

You don’t need to be the best designer to work with the best companies. You need to be the most resourceful. Hatch a plan and hustle like mad.

Andrew Doherty does a great job explaining how his resourcefulness got him a job at Google in his video ‘How to get a great job in UX’.

9. Give up on perfectionism

“Making mistakes is better than faking perfections”

You’re not meant to get your designs perfect; you’re expected to get them out into the wild as soon as is sensible, then test and iterate.

You only really learn when you make mistakes. If you’re fearful of making mistakes and try to get everything perfect, you’ll miss out on learning.

10. Give up thinking you can’t write

You only learn to be a better writer by actually writing (Doris Lessing)

Writing helps designers:

  • Research a topic and learn more about it.
  • Articulate their thought process.
  • Learn to tell a story.
  • Pass on their learnings to others.
  • Become a better designer.

I write every week, some weeks every day. Much of it gets deleted. Much of it I don’t like, it’s iterative. Writing has made me a better reader, a better learner, a better writer and a better designer. Give it a go. You don’t need to publish it, you just just need to start writing.

11. Give up working with toxic people

“Letting go of toxic people is an act of self-care” (Karen Salmansohn)

They’ll be people you work with who don’t see the value in UX design. They’ll be those who’s ego gets in the way of their job, and they treat you or your work colleagues poorly.

When you come across these people, plan to move on, if it looks like you’ll be working with them for a while. You need to surround yourself with inspiring people to become a great designer

12. Give up worrying about titles

“You will be measured by your influence in the digital age, not your job title”

Are you a mid-weight designer? A senior designer? Neither matters. To become a great designer, you need to focus on your trade and not your title. Your skills and experience are more important than your title.

You are not a senior designer because you have it in your title. You’re a senior level designer because you have done your time, worked hard, produced lots of great work and can pass this on to designers starting out.

13. Give up working in your comfort zone

“A ship in a harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are for” (John A. Shed)

You only really learn when you’re out of your comfort zone. Once you get to point when you have mastered all you can in an area, and you’re getting comfortable, it’s time to move on.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” (Mark Twain)

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8 Simple Truths To Think About Before Getting Into UX Design

8 Simple Truths To Think About Before Getting Into UX Design

8 Simple Truths To Think About Before Getting Into UX Design
Photo by Devin Edwards on Unsplash

“You must want to be a butterfly so badly, you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.” (Sekou Andrews)

You’ve been keeping a keen eye on the UX/Product Design role for a while.

You’ve read a bunch of Medium articles and done lots of research on courses.

You decide to jump in and commit.

You pay for the in-classroom course.

One week in. “Shit, it feels like everyone else knows way more than me.”

One month in, “I’m exhausted.”

Finishing the course.“I’m buggered, anxious and excited. I’m ready to do this in the real world (I think).”

Three weeks after the course, “shit, getting a job is not as easy as I thought.”

You get the point.

It’s no walk in the park changing career into User Experience.

Here are seven simple truths to think about before getting into UX/Product Design →

(caveat: this comes from my experience as someone who had no background in experience design or digital stuff before I started.)


1. You might love-hate it (for a bit)

“Being supper uncomfortable and drinking too much coffee makes me twitchy”

8 Simple Truths To Think About Before Getting Into UX DesignToo much coffee please 😳(Photo by AJ Garcia on Unsplash)

It will screw with your head. Jumping into a new world freaked me out at first, it all felt so foreign. I never got bored, but I got bloody tired having to keep my brain in gear all the time.

It will stress you out being in this new world, and if you’re like me, you’ll drink too much coffee and have your monkey mind overthinking everything.

The point: Whatever will be, will be. Let it happen and don’t worry about it too much. This is the way it’ll be getting going. It’ll give you a few grey hairs and a few sleepless nights. Suck it up and enjoy it.

2. It might NOT be the right time for you

“Don’t rush, just because you have reasons! Reason with the reasons and take definite action in the right direction, in haste, where needed, or with patience, where it is essential to do so! Mind your thought and think about your action!” (Ernest Agyemang Yeboah)

8 Simple Truths To Think About Before Getting Into UX DesignIn 2009 I closed my cleaning company in Scotland. I was massively stressed. This stress meant my body didn’t enjoy uncomfortable situations anymore. For a while after, I sat in the shadows avoiding situations which put stress on me.

Years late when I jumped into user experience I felt much better. I felt stronger. I was less twitchy and tired. I felt ready for the change and was ready to give it a good crack.

The point: Everyone is different. Timing is important. Don’t jump into experience design unless you can put your heart, soul and strong mental health into it.

3. It won’t stop being hard

A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” (Colin Powell)

8 Simple Truths To Think About Before Getting Into UX DesignFell running is a punish

It’s a bit like training to do a fell run. Fell running is something weird I used to do as a teenager. It’s a running race up and down a hill. Training to do a fell run is bloody hard at the start. As you get fitter you get better, but it doesn’t get any easier. You just get better at being used to the discomfort.

The point: With experience design, there’s a steep learning curve. Once you get a handle on what’s being asked of you, it’ll feel less foreign. It will still be tough though.


4. Short courses get you moving, the rest is up to you

“You realise that you will never be the best-looking person in the room. You’ll never be the smartest person in the room. You’ll never be the most educated, the most well-versed. You can never compete on those levels. But what you can always compete on, the true egalitarian aspect to success, is hard work. You can always work harder than the next guy.” (Casey Neistat)

8 Simple Truths To Think About Before Getting Into UX DesignEd Catmull — We all begin with suck.

If you did a General Assembly ten week plumbing immersive course how much would you learn? Would you know enough to become a fully fledged plumber? You wouldn’t, you’d learn enough to get an apprenticeship.

Stupid example but you get what I’m saying (plus I wanted to shoehorn this crap joke in below 💩)

8 Simple Truths To Think About Before Getting Into UX DesignThe point: Don’t rely on a great boot camp courses to get you fully started. They give you a great foundation and show a potential employee your commitment to the field, but there’s still lots to do. There are no short cuts for this.

5. Honesty and authenticity is a surprisingly valuable tool

“Don’t trade your authenticity for approval”

8 Simple Truths To Think About Before Getting Into UX DesignOk, we hear this kind of stuff all the time in Medium articles. And yes it is a cliche, but bear with me.

If you don’t have much UX design experience design, don’t make out that you know lots. No one cares if you don’t know it all. People only care if you’re honest, authentic and hardworking. They will care though, if you’re bullshitting.

You’ll need to go for a junior end position. When I started out I emailed Mehran (my first UX boss) and said I’m looking for a UX design role and I wanted to start from the ground up. I was lucky and he gave me a crack.

The point: Don’t bullshit your experience as it will add layers of stress to your days. If you say you’re a rockstar, you’ll hate it for longer than a while.

6. You will need to make some ‘LUCK’, and be a little pushy

I am a greater believer of luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.” (Thomas Jefferson)

8 Simple Truths To Think About Before Getting Into UX DesignPhoto by Antonino Visalli on Unsplash

For my first role, I got a lucky break with Mehran and Mick interviewing me and offering me a position. Luck’s created by talking to lots of people and not giving up.

Luck is every day. Luck is what happened when my now wife agreed to go out with me. Luck is what happened when I chatted to my mate Ash about getting into a digital a career.

The point: Hustle a bit to get in the door. Be patient and a bit pushy. There’s no magic to this. The more you people you ask for a job, the more chance you have of getting one.


7. Choose wisely who you take advice from

“Be wary of design advice from non-designers and be wary of career change advice from people who’ve never changed career”

8 Simple Truths To Think About Before Getting Into UX DesignPhoto by James & Carol Lee on Unsplash

“Advice is like cooking — you should try it before you feed it to others.” (Croft M. Pentax)

I just read this quote in an article by John Mashni and I stole it as it’s a cracker. Thanks John.

There are lots of non-UX designers who’ll give you lots of advice on the field. Depending on the person’s background, more often than not this advice doesn’t help. Mainly because lots of people don’t fully know what a user experience designer does day to day.

Get design advice from designers or people who’ve worked very closely with experience designers.

The point: Listen to the right bloody people. Such a shame to be put off by people giving you the wrong information.


8. Care less about your age

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind. it doesn’t matter” (Mark Twain)

8 Simple Truths To Think About Before Getting Into UX DesignThis is a funny one. I’ve chatted to people who are 60 who’ve started in user experience design and it’s worked out well. I’ve chatted to 40-year-olds, and it’s been a battle for them.

My feeling is you shouldn’t give a damn about your age. Who cares. If you enjoy the word of experience design then just get on with it.

If you have lots of responsibilities, work around them, don’t fight them. If you start your new career causing yourself, your partner or your family lots of stress then read number 2 again.

The point: There’s no point worrying about your age. Work with it.


by Guy Ligertwood