The confidence of a designer is an interesting thing. As much as we probably don’t admit it we all have egos, and negative feedback can often leave us doubting our own ability. Veteran Underscore designer Chris Noone shares his advice for junior designers on how to keep your head up and develop your design confidence.
As designers, we are often expected to produce wonders in a limited amount of time, and invariably we sometimes don’t hit the mark. This can sometimes be detrimental to the confidence of a designer, as it can cause second-guessing in what we do. For most of us design isn’t second nature: it’s something we excel at through years of practice.
So how do we stay confident in our abilities?
Here are a few points that can make a difference in keeping some confidence and not hitting a ditch.
Identifying strengths and weaknesses
We all have strengths and weaknesses in our design arsenal. We can build confidence through identifying and working on these. Believe on your strengths: if you can learn to own them, you’ll quickly discover a niche that you can potentially build a career out of. Meanwhile, identifying and then improving on your weaknesses will boost your confidence further.
Open lines of communication
Communication is key in our industry. As designers we are visual communicators but we can all have better lines of communication, from designers sharing their work with each other to clients giving constructive feedback. Learning how to open these lines of communication can often take time. However, sharing work with peers or clients can start a conversation that often leads to new ideas, and whether the feedback is good or bad, it rarely fails to be constructive. This in turn can build confidence, along with developing skills such as presenting your creative work or process of thought. Basecamp have captured this particularly well by stating: “When we get more confident a new phase opens up. We believe more in our process and we know that things are never perfect. So we start showing work earlier and start talking about our rationale at a given step.”
As well as understanding your strengths and communicating more, being decisive can also lead to becoming more self-assured as a designer. Being decisive is all about when one is informed, be able to back up your decision.
Why did you do this?
You did it for a reason, believe in it.
Everyone struggles with confidence from time to time, but it’s how we push on and believe in our abilities that ultimately defines our success as designers. As J.M. Barrie once wrote, “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.”