4 Things Great Designers Care About
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Health and Wellness

4 Things Great Designers Care About

Because our passion is our greatest asset.

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4 Things Great Designers Care About
ux mag

What is a great designer? Is it someone who is a jack-of-all-trades? Are you still a great designer if you are amazing at one thing?

As a Scorpio, one of my many useless talents is self-destruction in the form of comparing myself to others. I scroll endlessly on Tumblr, Instagram, Behance and other social media and portfolio websites to see what my other fellow artists are capable of. But no matter how jealous or inspired I get, we artists only strive to create beautiful work. Whether you are a season professional or recent graduate, there are four things great designers care about.

1.) People

We create art for people. We create art for people who are not us and obviously do not understand art the way we do. Because we make things for others, we need to care about and understand them.

Great designers understand people on intellectual and emotional levels.

Empathy is a characteristic that is so important to an artist or designer. Feeling what others feel gives us deep insight into what they need. Empathetic design techniques are rooted in art and drama, and they inform our design intuition.


2.) Craft


Caring about people motivates us to create, but a sense of craft motivates us to create well. We give form to our ideas and iterate on them while paying close attention to every detail and having that eye for design.

The exact skills needed to perfect your craft differ, depending on where you work and what you make. An architect creates models to give form to a building’s design while a visual designer might create style tiles to give form to a brand identity. Meanwhile, an aircraft designer might test a 3D-printed model in a wind tunnel, and an interaction designer might test an interactive app mockup with users.

3.) Why

Great designers most definitely put effort into the reasoning behind their artwork. Our passion to create often comes with an eye for detail, and behind every design detail lies a decision. But many of the decisions we make in life are arbitrary. Do I wear the blue shirt today or the black one? Should I walk on the left side of the street or the right? Those little decisions mostly have such a small impact on our lives that we don’t really notice or mind either way.

While we craft and design, however, our decisions have more impact. Dieter Rams’ eighth principle of good design is “Good design is thorough down to the last detail.” Nothing is left to chance.

Great designers make mindful choices, not arbitrary ones.

We can help ourselves make choices mindfully by setting a clear vision for any project, which in turn drives our rationale. This starts with understanding the needs of the people for whom we create (we care about them, remember?) and our own objectives. We can articulate our vision with requirements, user stories, personas, and roadmaps. And, because we designers don’t work in a vacuum, articulating our vision helps us communicate it to our teams and stakeholders.

4.) Authenticity

Another great thing about understanding why is that it helps us stay authentic. On a personal level, authenticity is about doing what we believe in. On a design level, it’s about making sure the things we create actually do what they need to do.

Great designers inject their authentic selves into their work and create honest, meaningful things.

The key component to authenticity is honesty: be honest with yourself and honest with the people for whom you create. This honesty is about making choices, especially when it means giving something up.

On a design level, honesty is making choices consistent with your vision and rationale: your why.

Most people laugh at art and design majors, so I will end this with one of my favorite quotes and what inspires me to be the best designer I can be:

"No matter what anyone tells you, words and ideas can change the world. We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering: these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love - these are what we stay alive for." - Robin Williams, Dead Poet's Society

(Although it is a quote mainly for poets, it applies greatly to us artists as well.)

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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