This is often how I feel my designs look after a bad critique session. I actually knew of a professor who would make students throw their work away…that never happened to me of course.

Learning to love the process

It’s highly doubtful that a designer nails a project in the first attempt. More often than not the design solution is found somewhere after the multiple iterations. It’s not impossible to hit the nail on the head the first try but its definitely not likely. It takes a set of fresh eyes to suss out details and opportunities hiding within the layers of your files. Those opportunities are missed by the day to day designer. The one who’s been staring at the same section of the screen for an hour thinking, “I just need to put something there.” Bring in a fresh set of eyes and if they’re opinionated as any designer should be, you’ll probably get more than you bargained for.

Cultivate a culture of critique

If you’re anything like me, or like I was, critiques were not my favorite part of the process. The process was very tedious to me and at times it felt embarassing. This was especially true the more I felt I was surrounded by people “better” than me. Placing my ideas on display was harrowing, they’d all finally catch me! I was a fraud tricking everyone year after year barely getting by each time. (imposter syndrome is real, check out my article on comparison and dribbble) However as time went on I began to see the importance of “refreshing your perspective.” I understood why critique sessions, user tests, and other “refresher” acts as I call them were important in crafting a solution.

Critiques have a two part benefit program attached to them. The first is the gathering of new insight and fresh ideas. The second is that feedback sessions refresh your mind(if you allow it). The feedback you receive may not have direct application on your design after you’ve gathered everything. Many people lack the context you had when designing it. However, your mind is now thinking in new ways and can find opportunities it was glossing over before in search of solutions. Most often the major benefit in feedback situations is admitting to yourself that there are still issues with the design.

Summit Renovations Website Design

For example, below is a timelapse capture of the Summit Renovations website design. This timelapse is for a version of the site that ultimately didn’t get used because it emphasized the “construction” part of the remodeling process not the “omg thank goodness that construction is over and I can enjoy my house” portion of the process. I had focused on their actual process instead of the end emotional users state. The state that we all want to be in. Now, if they had a process page these items would make more sense to tell the story. You’ll see that the end result is a much cleaner, friendlier site which focuses on imagery and white space.

Check out the site here: http://www.summitrenovationsmn.com

Loving the process

I’ve been able to admit to myself that without the process of feedback my work would not be where it is today. I’m not saying its perfect or even that great but it took humility to see that its only better when others contribute. This principle applies to every project digital, illustration, or brand. If you can include others in your process you will find that the quality of your deliverable increases as well as your motivation for finishing. One added bonus if you’re lucky is when people give you tips and direction. Count those as your next growth opportunity and write them all down. Wrap yourself in the process and embrace those chances to grow.

Feel free to follow me on my journey of self discovery and design!

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Experience Designer @slalom. Founder, designer, and Illustrator @wattle_n_daub. Boring people to death with UX, illustration, typography, and identity design.

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