What does it take to become a successful designer? To be trusted with all types of design projects and juggle them well? Becoming a successful designer is no small feat, and there are several attributes great designers have in common.
1. The Spark of Creativity
The ability to look at an old problem from a new angle or re-imagine a way to approach a project that some might consider dull or repetitive is crucial. If a project constantly sparks new and exciting ideas in your head, chances are you’re already creative!
2. Communication and Storytelling
Why does the brand even matter? You must communicate to the brand’s target audience why they should use the product or service. Great designers can do this through the copy they write, as well as through the brand visuals.
Communication is critical throughout the ideation and execution process as well – savvy designers keep their clients abreast of any changes or pivots made during the development of a logo, website design, etc.
Storytelling is one of the most vital components of communication. Story is a powerful tool used throughout the ages to draw people in and spark interest. Designers who can tell a story are some of the best.
3. Never-Ending Curiosity
Remember when you were a kid, and everything felt new and magical? Even the simplest concepts carried an air of mystery to them, and you were full of questions (whether your parents liked it or not). Regain that curiosity and carry it into every new project. Curiosity enables you to keep learning at every turn, a quality that is indispensable for designers.
4. Problem-Solving Finesse
No one likes to encounter problems – but a skilled designer knows each problem is an opportunity to learn and grow. Apply your curiosity to your problems, and look forward to learning the solution. Problem-solving is especially important if you care about UX/UI design (and you should)!
5. Reliability and Consistency
Good designers aren’t lazy. They don’t say “yes” to a project and then slack off for months to the detriment of their integrity. Successful designers have strong time management skills and a reputation for being reliable and consistent. Even if a project takes longer than anticipated, they’ll be great communicators and let the client know when to expect it because they know time is valuable.
6. Humility and Ability to Handle Critique
When was the last time you spoke to someone who acted like they knew everything? It’s no fun (and even less fun if they can’t handle critique and feedback). Diligent designers are teachable – not just willing to teach themselves but willing to hear from their clients. Sometimes there are factors we don’t consider or aren’t aware of, and listening carefully to critique with a humble heart can make a huge difference.
7. Empathy (Putting Yourself in Others’ Shoes)
Empathy and humility go hand in hand, but empathy extends beyond seeing things from your client’s perspective to understanding the needs of their clients. Be aware of their needs, pain points, and problems. Anticipating these needs is not just good customer service – it makes you an irreplaceable part of their brand.
8. Artistic and Design Ability
Design is not art. You can be a good artist and a terrible designer, and vice versa, but you need artistic awareness in order to design well.
Here are some of the things you should know to be a good designer:
- Spatial awareness (white space)
- Design psychology
- Color theory
- Scalability/simplicity in design
That’s the bare minimum – but you can always learn more as a designer.
9. Patience and Determination
Being a designer doesn’t mean that things can go wrong: it means it’s just a matter of time before it will go wrong.
Your response to things that are beyond your control is what will make or break you as a designer. Don’t let yourself be fazed when a client waits until the 5th iteration to tell you about something that would have been helpful during the first round: just keep moving forward with grit and patience.
10. Flexibility and Adaptability
Speaking of client communication, flexibility is the final important piece for designers. You have no control over what your client will request and are not a mind reader – all you can do is roll with the punches and adapt to your client’s needs, facing the problems each project presents with grace under pressure.
Learn More About Design at Matcha Design
What does success look like to you? Is it the ability to keep doing what you love for decades or create award-winning designs? Here at Matcha Design, we have been fortunate to do both. If you’re a young and aspiring designer, we’re happy to share our hard-won expertise with you. Sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of our home page, or check out our blog for more helpful tips!