Letter to a Junior Designer

When you’re starting out in design you hunger to fix all the things. Your imagination and passion are boundless. So what turns a junior designer into a seasoned pro? It’s more than experience—it’s an ability to be in the moment and be a whole person.

Me and My Big Fat Ego

In a design project, there are usually areas where the client sees room for improvement—and that’s hard to take if your self-esteem is bound up with your work. You need confidence to present your work, but be sure to dial back the ego if it stands in the way of a successful client relationship.

Inspiration

In the design world, asking about one’s “inspiration” is often code for “where do you pinch your ideas from?” But the act of copying needn’t be wreathed in euphemisms: just like in art class, we learn by copying the work of the masters. The trick is using the experience to learn and then making the technique or pattern your own.

Good Taste Doesn’t Matter

Do we truly believe beauty is in the eye of the beholder? Or do we actually seek out some external standard of good taste in design (and then try to impose it whether it leads to the best solution or not)? We may be happier, and better designers, if we let go of that notion.

The Silent Subcontractor

Subcontracting for an agency can sometimes leave a freelance designer in the shadows, unable to talk directly with the client during the project, and unable to show their own work in their portfolio later.

A Moment to Breathe

Burning both ends of the candle night after night, weekend after weekend, has long been part of web design and development culture. Especially in the startup subculture, we pride ourselves on working long hours with little sleep. It’s part of a new generation’s favorite myth—the one where we get in early in a company destined for an enormous IPO, work our little hearts out for a year or two, and end up rich and happy. The truth is rather less glamorous: the way we are working starves our prefrontal cortex, hurting not only our precious health, but also our productivity. Nick Cox shares the science behind the high cost of constant crisis mode, and explains how to strike a better balance.

The Monster Within Us

There’s a monster within you and me—we all have it. It’s driven by primitive needs and it’s relentless, but—plot twist—it’s trying to save your life. Only it doesn’t understand what’s going on and it can hijack your thinking and actions in an instant, making you a menace, or at least a jackass, to everyone around you. Scared yet? Fortunately, there’s a great technique for keeping the monster at bay.

Getting to Flow

When design and client cultures truly come together, magical and memorable projects emerge. These magic projects aren’t random, though—they happen when you reach a state of flow. The beautiful part is, you can get both yourself and your client into a flow state more often by doing three things: enabling immediate feedback, balancing capability and challenge, and setting clear goals with visible progress. Breandán Knowlton shows you how.

Defining a Vision: Making Sure Your Work Matters

When an architect designs a structure, he or she can be fairly sure the work will endure for decades, maybe even centuries. Here on the web, we’re not so lucky. Knowing how temporary digital creations can be, how can we ensure our work matters? By defining the organization’s vision. This isn’t just about solidifying a mission statement, though. Russ Starke shows you how to help organizations create a detailed story of their future success—and how that story can serve as a compass for both the company and its customers.