Here are some great tips for young designers.
Work with more senior designers and watch what they do and how they work. Try not to take a job where you are the only designer.
Learn to sell yourself and your design choices. Two of the hardest things about design is convincing clients that they need your services and explaining why you did what you did.
Build your own website and start to amass a portfolio. When you see something you don’t like, redesign a part of it, take a screen-shot and put it on your site. Maybe even blog about things you read or learn.
Here are some guidelines to follow as you learn.
- Always be observing and analyzing. Why is the ceiling this tall? Who is that? Why do they do it that way? When do they decide this? How do they figure it out? Which? What?
- Never, ever, ever nod your head and say you got it when you don’t.
It’s not rude. They won’t think you are stupid. Never accept a terrible answer. Say, “I don’t understand what you mean, if you don’t have time, how would you suggest I learn about that? I need to know it to do a good job”. Designers fail at this all the time. You must understand what is going on. Don’t assume you will figure it out. People go years at a job without understanding what that funny acronym stands for.
- Most organizations communicate like crap. Read this blog post about the curse of knowledge. It’s not anyone’s fault, but realize that it’s your job to help explain things. Learn, then teach.
- Deliver something useful. This may seem like it goes without saying, but many designers out there (no one here of course) don’t deliver usable designs. Think through the problems from the beginning to the end. Don’t let people dictate how you deliver. You need to understand the problem and give a thoughtful response.
- Don’t be bullied into not thinking. You might get a boss/colleague who thinks they know everything and all you need to do is XYZ. Think it through no matter what from the beginning. You are responsible for the user experience, not them, no matter what they say.
- Learn. Learn from every interaction. Observe how an office works. Learn from peers. Find mentors. Learn, learn, learn.