When you first start in any profession (particularly those in the creative space), it’s pretty easy to come down with a bad case of Imposter Syndrome.
You feel like a fake…a total phony…and immediately begin comparing yourself to people who you have no business comparing yourself to.
Think about how discouraged you’d feel as a high school basketball player watching LeBron play and measuring your own success against his. Talk about an unfair comparison! Believe it or not, even LeBron James once dribbled a basketball for the very first time.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t look up to people and feel inspired by other talented professionals in your industry. But you should never measure your own success as a designer against “their” criteria.
Social media hasn’t helped. Everyone is always more beautiful, more sculpted, and more evenly-tanned than you will ever be. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even Dribbble have expanded the competitive playing field ACROSS. THE. ENTIRE. DAMN. GLOBE.
Think about it. Before Dribbble was around to make you feel bad about how shitty your design skills were, how could you measure your design growth and success outside of reading books and seeing billboards along the sidewalk?
There are so many different ways to measure personal growth and success, and I wanted to cover a couple of those here.
1. Did you solve a problem?
Design isn’t [just] about pixels and colors. At the very core, it’s all about problem solving. If you identified a real problem and provided a better solution (however marginal it may be), then you succeeded!
2. Did you empathize with the user?
Remember, you’re not designing solutions just to check a box for your product manager, or to have something pretty to post on Dribbble. If you embody the user to create a tailored solution that addresses their needs in a thoughtful manner, then you succeeded!
3. Does this version look or function better than your last?
In the spirit of self-improvement and professional growth, simply practicing your craft and getting better at it is a marker of achievement. If this version is better than that former version in some way or another, then you succeeded!
4. Were you more efficient than last time?
The process is just as important as the final outcome because it’s the path you forge during creation. If your path was a little shorter, or a little more direct than it was last week, then you succeeded!
5. Were you more consistent than last time?
Professional chefs are obviously skilled at creating delicious dishes. But what’s more impressive is the ability to reproduce that high level of perfection time and time again. If your designs are clean and consistent, then you succeeded!
6. Did you improve a process?
Design doesn’t always have to be additive. In fact, while researching an existing feature you might identify some unnecessary steps. If you made a process more efficient or performant through enhancements or optimizations, then congratulations, you succeeded!
7. Did you inspire the client?
You can even be a successful designer without designing a single screen by offering yourself as a problem solver and innovative eye for the client. If you helped them think outside of the box, then you succeeded!
8. Did you open yourself for feedback?
Design success is just as much about personal growth as it is tactical growth. Learning how to be open and accepting of feedback is a difficult skill, but one that’s necessary to flourish. If you put aside your pride and were open to critique, then you succeeded!
9. Did you design selflessly?
Design is not self-serving. There are a lot of interested parties, and if you do your best to address their needs and concerns, then you succeeded!
- Who are we designing for? Designing for Buy-In (Part 1 of 3)
- Who are we designing for? Designing for Production (Part 2 of 3)
- Who are we designing for? The quality and standards teams (Part 3 of 3)
10. Are you proud of your work?
I like to believe all people in all professions should feel a sense of pride in the work that they do. If you did the job, did it well, and were happy with what you created, then you succeeded.
When I’m not searching for warm and fuzzy feelings, I’m working on resources like UX Power Tools to make you a better, more efficient designer.
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