13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want To Be a Successful UX Designer
Cut out the things that are holding you back
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.
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)