What Makes a Good Designer?

Someone who is thoughtful, analytical and creative. Design takes both sides of the brain - especially UX.  Someone who can listen and distill information. Someone with an eye for detail and composition. Someone who takes the time to get to know their audiences. Someone who can empathize with that audience and find solutions that appeal and engage.


How do I continue to improve as a designer?

I attend conferences when I can. I read a lot of design related content online. I follow other designer's work. I keep up on new trends in design and technology. I listen to constructive criticism. I observe, listen and engage with the world. Design is not just what a product looks like at the end, it is a process. Design is a process of discovery.


What design tool do I use often? Why?

A pen. 

A pen is the start-point for all of my design work.  I jot down notes, ideas, flows, and potential layouts.  A pen is versatile. It saves instantly. I don't have to change applications to do different things. It all goes on the same piece of paper.  Research shows that individuals remember things better when they write them down. This may be due to muscle memory or grey matter in the fingertips, but it works. In high school I drew pictures in class during lectures. I remembered the lecture in detail by going back and looking at the pictures I'd drawn. They served as a sort of repository for ideas and thoughts. I am still a committed pen-user for early design ideation.


What is a key design principle I keep in mind?

Design with the audience, and the endpoint, in mind, but don't let yourself get boxed in - they are guidelines not constraints for creativity. Be creative in your approach to the problem while keeping the audience and the endpoint in mind.  If someone tells you they want to go to an island, don't limit yourself to drawing ships. Otherwise you may never conceive of an airplane.


How do I iterate on a design and why?

As I stated before, design is a process of discovery. Design IS an iterative process. A product may be defined as "complete" at some point in time, but you can be sure someone's going to take it somewhere new after you. Design is a collaboration and a refinement of the human experience . I improve and iterate on designs by getting feedback and asking for ideas. I show my ideas to people and gauge their reactions. I ask them questions. I listen. Never assume a design is finished, or that there is only one way to do something. This keeps the mind open, as you explore possibilities. Most designs are capable of being expressed in many ways. The best ones are the ones that have been thoughtfully refined through feedback, and many minute changes. I say minute because as soon as you make large-scale changes, then it's a new design.