As designers working in a team with others, we know that a fair chunk of our time will be spent with other people – gathering information, generating ideas and debating problems – in forums like meetings, workshops or sprints.
With that in mind, I always think it’s crazy how we spend so much time learning about our design craft, yet when it comes to learning about how to negotiate the often tricky world of meetings, workshops, sprints or even informal catchups with our colleagues, we are often left firmly in the dark, and having to just ‘learn on the job’.
Picture the scene. I’m sitting at my kitchen table at home, trying to unenthusiastically spear a piece of chicken with my fork. I’m mid-impassioned rant to my girlfriend, fork now waving wildly in the air;
“And I didn’t even get a thank you!! Not even a tiny, measly thank you, after all the work I put into that. They just don’t care at all. I can’t take this anymore.”
Rewind a few hours. I had worked like crazy all week to deliver designs for an important presentation. I had poured every ounce of effort into making sure we hit the deadline, suffered through numerous changes as strategies leading up to the presentation shifted, and had one unhappy girlfriend who had been forced into living with a extremely grumpy zombie.
The presentation was now over, and though it had gone well, I was left feeling pretty upset. We’d delivered, well against the odds, a really important, time-intensive piece of work, yet nobody at work took the time to thank us for our efforts. In fact, the converse had happened – our manager had gotten all the credit and didn’t bat an eyelid.
The sad thing is, that I bet most of you can relate to this story. Feeling under-appreciated or not recognised for your efforts by your team, manager or wider company is a common theme that I hear again and again, and that I’ve personally experienced in multiple companies.
Last weekend, I spent my Saturday at a tech recruitment fair, Silicon Milkroundabout, meeting and talking to UX and UI designers who were searching for their next role. It was absolutely fantastic to meet so many talented designers, with bags of hustle and initiative.
BUT! There’s something that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about ever since. Here it is:
Picture the scene. There I am, living my best life, and my phone buzzes with a social media notification. Someone has sent me a direct message! However, I’m sad to admit that my initial reaction to seeing this is usually a groan.
Why? It’s not because I don’t like hearing from people. Rather, the opposite is true. I love to hear from people and find out how they are practicing design wherever they are in the world, and to help them if I can.
I groan because it seems to be an unfortunate epidemic on Instagram and other social media that many of the messages I receive are quite frankly, a complete waste of everyone’s time.
I imagine if this is happening to me, it’s probably happening to other people. I’m picturing a sea of people who really want to ask design questions and a bunch of designers who would love to help, but wires getting crossed thanks to shoddy messaging structure! Argh!
So, to help us all out, I’m going to talk about the types of messages that won’t get you a response and how to instead optimise your approach for a better chance of hearing back!
Being a whizz on Adobe Creative Suite.
Being incredibly passionate about design.
We all know that there are some key skills to push when we are talking about being a good designer. Thats why every time I read a summary at the top of a CV I see the same few skills repeated over and over again.
Whilst these skills can be important, there are also plenty of other characteristics that deserve to be recognised as key attributes of a good designer. These are the types of talents that I rarely hear people shouting about on their CV’s or during interviews, but more importantly, that I just don’t hear people talk about improving in their design practise.
This post is going to focus on three of these skills that I believe are under-utilised and under-appreciated by designers and include some tips to help you kickstart your development in each area. Let’s dive in!