← Back

My principles as a designer

Christopher Butler says that “hiring for skills is mostly bogus. Hiring for soft skills is better. Hiring for principles is ideal”. I agree with him. Here are my principles, in case you want to understand the kind of designer I am.

Rely on others

It’s important that we know what direction we want to move in and how we’ll get there. Designers should help to challenge, set, and understand that direction and its implementation.

But a designer doesn’t need to stick their nose into every decision. Trust that the people around you can do their job once they understand the goal. You don’t need to be in every product strategy meeting if you trust the product manager, and you don’t need to oversee every detail of implementation if you trust the developer.

That said, don’t design alone. Consider the problem, its many solutions, and involve others in the decision. Work with everyone else to move towards improvement.

Improve what you can

A designer doesn’t need to move mountains or change company cultures to leave something better than they found it. A career of small improvements is fine, if that’s all that’s practically possible.

Approach problems with a set of methods you can call upon, not a process you must follow. A toolkit that has something for every situation is better than a perfect process which falls at the first hurdle. If you were able to solve the problem, it doesn’t matter that you couldn’t carry out ten user interviews.

Don’t design something that will knowingly make someone’s life worse. No gambling or defence.

Collect and share knowledge

You should want to be the best designer, even if you’ll never get there. The important bit is that you want to keep learning.

Generalism is better than specialism because a range of experience means you come up with more options. Be curious about everything, and practice what you’re not good at.

Problems are interesting, regardless of how they’re solved. You shouldn’t limit yourself to mobile apps, or landing pages, or back-end tools, or you’ll ignore many opportunities to make something better.

Share what you know with other people, if they’re interested. The more people who want to understand and fix what’s wrong, the better.