What makes a great designer: no fluff, just the essentials

Jordan Stimpson
September 4, 2023
5 min read

Hey folks, let's chat about the mysterious aura that seems to envelop the "great designer" label. In the land of SaaS and tech startups, design seems to be either over-romanticised or completely misunderstood. Everyone's looking for a designer who's got more badges than a decorated general. You know, someone with UX certifications falling out of their pockets, an ex-Google or Apple veteran, or a wall glittering with design awards.

I'm not saying these aren't lovely to have, like an extra cherry on your sundae. But are they the be-all and end-all? Nah, mate.

Skip the fanfare, here's what you really need

Understand your client's pains and gains

When a client walks through your (virtual) door, they’re not just bringing a brief or a project, they’re essentially serving you a puzzle. The pieces? Their pain points and business objectives. You're not just putting pixels on a screen; you're solving genuine problems. A designer who can't align with these goals might as well be shooting in the dark.

Walk the talk

Ah, deadlines. A word that sometimes feels like a curse wrapped in a riddle. However, it's simple. If you say you'll deliver on the 15th, then it better be in the client’s inbox when they wake up, not at 11:59 PM. Integrity builds trust, and in the whirlwind of design iterations and client approvals, trust is your North Star.

Be a pleasure, not a chore

There's a myth that designers should be these mystical, complicated creatures. A bit like unicorns, but with MacBooks. Toss that notion in the bin. Being easy to work with, responsive, and adaptable can be your best assets. Design is collaborative, and having an honest and authentic relationship with your client isn't just a "nice-to-have," it’s essential.

When life happens, just be real

No one’s expecting you to be a design robot. Life throws curveballs, whether it's a personal emergency or an unexpected hiccup in the project. The key is communication. Reach out to your client, let them know what’s up as soon as possible. Trust me, most reasonable clients will appreciate the honesty and adapt accordingly. Plus, who knows, they might even share a life hack or two on how to juggle life’s unexpected turns.

Wrapping up

So, the next time you find yourself swooning over a designer because they've got more degrees than a protractor, pause. Instead, look for someone who excels in the real essentials: understanding the problem, integrity in execution, an easy-going nature, and honesty. Everything else? Just a bonus track, not the hit single.

In design, as in life, sometimes less is more. Now, go forth and design responsibly, yeah? Cheers! 🍻

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