At Plant, improving our design skill is of high priority. There’s one thing I have come to realize about skills in general — there’s always room for improvement. No matter how skillful you think you are, there is always something new to learn. If you are looking for a way to improve your design skills, then you are on the right page. I intend to discuss the ways you can improve your design skills as a product designer.
No doubt, product design is a daunting profession. You always have to be on your toes to remain relevant in the profession. Old techniques are improved, and some become obsolete. New ones are introduced daily. For a field that’s always changing like this, improving your skill is a must. Follow the tips below to discover how to improve your skills as a product designer.
Pay Attention to Criticism
Instead of advising you to take criticism, I am saying you should pay attention to them. Well, I am sure you are wondering why I said so. That’s because feedbacks are powerful and can make or mare you. I have been in the shoes before, and I know how it feels. Not all criticisms are made to help you grow. Aside from helpful criticism popularly known as constructive criticism, there’s one devoid of good intend known as destructive criticism that is nothing but attack.
When you get critic feedback, you need to analyze it and see if it is a constructive criticism you should take, or whether you should wave it off if it is destructive criticism. Learn to know when to appreciate your skill to avoid feeling bad over feedbacks provided to make you feel bad. However, when you get an honest review of your work, appreciate them and learn how to avoid those flops in the future.
If you are one of the juniors in a team, your team members find it easier to criticize your work. However, as a senior member of a team or even the team lead, this becomes difficult as no one will want to be seen as challenging your work. What should you do in this case? Simple, take your work online to websites like Dribbble, and get others criticize it. Make do of the helpful feedback and disregard the others.
Discuss with Other Designers
We all have our individual strengths and weaknesses. If you want to improve your design skills, you need to acknowledge this and become open to discussion with other designers. You might be asking why, right? In the past, I used to have this idea of being a know it all kind of person. I stick to a technique and wouldn’t want to learn from other team members because I see it as a sign of weakness.
I later discovered I was wrong and was actually not improving. While the other team members have discovered a new technique and are all using it, I remain with the one I know. However, the magic came when I became open to discussing and accepting others’ opinions. The experience though not a rosy one all the time, but will open you up to a lot of techniques you are not aware of. You’ll get to learn from the last person you expected, and that’s the joy of discussing with others.
Read Design Books
In a world where we are now glued to our screens, reading a complete book can be a great challenge. The attention of many designers have reduced to the extent that they are only open to reading blog articles and when they become long, they will skip over and their reason — no time. Well, it is better you spend time to learn what will improve the quality of your design than remain stuck with the same old knowledge you have when others have advanced.
One thing you cannot deny is, a great amount of knowledge is hidden in books. What you read on blogs is just a fragment and, sometimes, a summary of what is in books. Why not get the knowledge from the direct source? If paperbacks are your problem, you can get most copies of popular books in ebook format — some are free, while some are paid.
Move Out of Your Comfort Zone
Unless you push yourself out, you will remain in your comfort zone. And let’s face it, the comfort zone will, in most cases, make a mediocre out of you. If you want to improve your design skills, you have to do those things you are scared of doing. Take the bull by the horn, take up that project offer, learn that new thing, and dare to make mistakes. As you move out of your comfort zone, you will discover you are learning new things and improving your skills.
Experiment New Ideas
From the feedback you get and the knowledge you gain from reading books and learning from other designers, you can come up with new ideas of your own. When these new ideas come up, what do you do with them? Experiment them, of course! Try out your ideas. If you are not a key person in a project, you might not get the opportunity to introduce your new idea to the project you are part of. In this case, you can start side projects and put your new ideas into practice.
Trying out your new idea in a side project has a lot of advantages. Since nobody is funding it, you can afford to try out new things and make mistakes — rinse and repeat until you get the desired result without anyone being on your neck. It is also easier trying out a new idea in a new project since you will be starting the new project on a new slate.
Improving your design skills is not what you can get done overnight. You need to put a lot of things in place, change some of your attitude toward work, and be ready to accept and adapt to changes that come your way. Only then will you be able to improve your skills. The above tips work for us at Plant; they will work for you too.