Being a designer is awesome – I love the fact that each project is different and I love the fact that a little piece of me is injected into everything I do. I also work with an awesome team of people who are all pushing themselves to make each project better than the last, but you know what? Being a designer can be pretty tough.
“If it was easy, everyone would be doing it”
When I was starting out I remember my creative director saying – “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it” and that phrase has stayed with me throughout my career.
As a designer I’ve found that I don’t always have the solution from the off, and even when I think I’ve nailed it I’ll find that a client doesn’t always share my vision which is a real confidence killer. But as I get further into my career I get better at getting it right, and with every project that I work on (or client that I work with) I learn a little more. Not every project is easy and sometimes I have to dig pretty deep to get through them, but I always do, and the client always ends up happy.
So what can make you a better designer? Apart from having an eye for it there are five qualities I’ve learnt along the way that will help you become the best designer you can be.
Listening is key, without listening properly to the problem how can you ever come up with a solution? Always listen, take time to understand and ask questions before coming back with a reply.
Share your knowledge and don’t hold back. Being totally honest and open in everything you do gives people confidence in you as a person. As a designer you’re offering a service, you’re also offering yourself as their design partner and have to work pretty closely with your clients. Your client needs to be able to trust you, after all, their money and their business is in your hands.
Caring is super important. I don’t know any designer that doesn’t care – they care about their work, they care about their clients, and they want everything they do to become a success. If you’re a designer and you don’t give a monkeys then you need to find another job, nobody wants to work with someone that’s churning out average work just to earn a living.
Not every project is easy, not every design you do is going to be well received and it’s your resilience and ability to bounce back that will get you through.
Take last week for example. I received some shocking feedback from a client, they really didn’t like the concept that I’d sent them and they definitely didn’t hold back in letting me know how wrong I got it. At first I was upset, I was disappointed that they didn’t like what I had done, but ultimately I was gutted that they weren’t happy with it and that’s because I truly give a shit. In this kind of situation I’ve always found there’s only one way to tackle it and that’s head on. I stayed late that night and revisited the client’s brief, I took on-board their feedback and came back with a fresh design within six hours that they loved. If it all starts going wrong you need to pick yourself up and act fast, there’s no worse feeling as a designer than the person you are working for losing confidence in your ability, get to work and show them that you know your onions.
Doing the best work you can do and being the best you can be doesn’t happen by simply doing what’s needed of you, it’s about exceeding expectation and adding that little bit extra in everything that you do.
Spend longer on a design than quoted, not just for the client but because you want that design to be awesome and awesome design work attracts more of the same. If a client has asked for a small addition to a project don’t think about charging them first, see if you can give them an hour of your time, because you care. If a client is stuck and needs something doing out of the blue and you can fit it in quickly then help them. Going above and beyond is not about giving stuff away for free, it’s about earning trust. When a client trusts you and they know that you’re on their side they’ll be a client for life, they’ll use you without even considering anyone else, they’ll also recommend you to their friends and ultimately keep you in business.
Being a good designer is way more than having the skills to create cool stuff. It’s about being adaptable, caring, considerate and an all round good person. If you can be all that and also create great work then you’ve got it made.