You ain’t a designer until you fail
“Don’t think of it as failure, think of it as designing experiments through which you’re going to learn.”, Tim Brown
I was / am / will be a computer science girl and I’ve been writing code since 2014, my whole career being based on mostly self learning. Why? Because my faculty didn’t teach me anything related to my job as a frontend developer and because I was passionate about getting in the visual journey that later took me to becoming a designer. That’s why I chose to learn design all by myself, but in that continuous road I made and probably will make a lot of mistakes.
I call myself a designer, a generalist, because I still have so much to learn and find out in order to choose one path (UX designer, motion designer, etc.).
How my journey was until now?
If I had 3 words to describe my learning experience they would be: messy, challenging and rewarding. I had a rough start, I didn’t know really where to begin, what to read, what to listen, what to learn, but in the end I understood: it was about a combination of doing and learning.
Without further ado, here are some lessons that I’ve learned from my so far journey:
1. Start build something and fail beautifully
For such a long time I was so focused on getting accreditations and listening to podcasts to assimilate as much information as I could. But I wasn’t building anything, so at the end of the day I had nothing. This was mainly because I was so scared of me being a terrible designer and I had these insecurities about my visual skills that for a long time I didn’t have the courage to actually try to design something.
Nobody wants so see a certificate, they want to see your way of thinking, your process and the meaning behind your crafting.
2. Don’t skip course projects
Remember, it’s about exercising, not doing it when you think you will be better. I think course projects are there for a reason: practising. These projects are meant to be seen as a competition with yourself, a way to watch your progress and learn by making.
3. The learning process doesn’t end at a certain point
It’s about always documenting yourself, connecting with the people that have the same interests as you and to always challenge yourself to be better. I think growth is important in every job, not only in design. Otherwise, how would your life be exciting?
4. Recreate good designs
I often find myself squeezing my brain in finding a good design idea, that’s when Dribbble comes and saves me. If you like a design, recreate it and then put your own personality in it and make it personal, maybe new ideas will come while recreating it.
5. Don’t take more than 2 courses in the same time
I’ve been there, thirsty of knowledge and trying to learn about multiple concepts at a time. Don’t take more than you can have on your plate. It’s not about collecting 10 courses, but the knowledge you get from them.
6. If you decide to use a tool, learn the basics first
At the beginning I was using Adobe XD for my projects because I got so comfortable using it. For my first big project and by that I mean 50+ screens and a design system, I chose Figma. My huge mistake was that I got straight to work because I thought ‘I will figure it out while using it’. Welp :) I lost so many hours redoing things that were done wrong and I’ve learned my lesson: next time I will watch a tutorial with the main features first.
My trusty resources — for busy people
I am sure there are a gazillion resources for learning design or anything really, but there are times in our lives when we don’t have that much time at our disposal.
Through my journey I discovered some podcasts, books, tutorials that helped me learn things even in my busiest times. Some of them are:
NNgroup Youtube Channel — for shower/cooking time
Wireframe Podcast hosted by Adobe and Khoi Vinh — while you drive to McDonalds
Laws of UX — light reading that provides a lot of helpful information
Dribbble — for inspiration
UX Collective and UX Planet — for articles
Originally published on Medium here.