The design bubble.
How attending a conference was eye-opening and some takeaways.
Last week, I attended the Awwwards conference in San Francisco.
It was the first conference I’ve ever attended. I’ve always been told to go to one, that it would inspire me and motivate me. I honestly thought I didn’t need the motivation since I’m someone who’s very optimistic and inspired in general. I find inspiration that comes from small things we do everyday— I’m someone who sees a llama in the foam of my morning cortado and smile.
I thought attending a conference would drain me, that I would come back to my job comparing myself with more people, more stress, no sleep… but it actually redirected my energy to what matters most.
I came back empowered with a new angle on my career and it broke me out of a routine I was unknowingly stuck in. With a new perspective, I was able to see that the changes I wanted in my career are indeed possible.
I had the chance to meet people who are successful doing what I want to do, that were more than happy to share their story with me and that already went through the struggles I kept running into as a designer. What am I doing? Is this the best solution I can build? If not, what more can I do? What did I forget? Am I good enough for this? Yes, you are. Screw the imposter syndrome, you get to do what you’ve always wanted to — even more, you are encouraged to do so. So go out there, and do it.
Quick learnings and key takeaways from the 2018 San Francisco’s Awwwards conference:
Design is a not an individual sport — a design process requires trust, communication, transparency and honesty amongst ALL players. This includes players that are in the design team, but outside of it as well. As designers, we tend to protect a tad too much what we build by not sharing it until it’s perfect. Detach yourself from your design and be willing to compromise. Take feedback as an opportunity/a challenge, not as criticism. Don’t be an asshole to work with, please. Absorb all the feedback you can (especially the negative) and be available to those who need you. Also, asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of maturity.
“The more you involve people from outside the design team, the more info you will have to solve the issue” — Tim Van Damme
“It’s all about trust. This trust is built through the experiences we make, through the ways we work together” — Julia Khusainova
Stop thinking about it. Just start doing something. — This is what I like to call the design bubble. We keep comparing ourselves to what we see, what’s out there and we create biased designs from this, which results in recycling patterns over and over again. Stop wasting time validating your design on competition (your customers are available for this exact reason). You don’t need to know everything, you don’t need to be a specialist in all possible verticals of design, you don’t have to be the best before starting a project and you probably won’t, because the perfect timing to do it does not exist. Just start it and ship it. Done is better than perfect.
“Shipping an imperfect product is the way to ship a great product.” — Cameron Moll
“Building a great product is a marathon, not a sprint.” — Demian Borba
Care about your design and know the limits. — Designers should have a seat at the table. How? Care about what you do by communicating and clarifying what is good design. We are here to help communicate with tangible ideas, holding a certain quality line to the product. Designers are facilitators, connoisseurs, stewards — it’s not just about pretty pixels or subjectivity. Be careful not to burn yourself and choose your work carefully based in your values. Your job does not define you, your personality and work ethics will get you further than your skills. Settle for something you are proud of to be confident in your work and be able to protect it.
“[…]Fighting hard to live my life creatively, enjoying the work along the way and providing for loved ones. Be free. With no alarms waking me up.” — Aaron Draplin
“Life is about feeling fulfilled and spending interesting days.” — Matias Corea
Last, but not least:
When going to a conference, check how much sugar is in your juice before opening it. Aside from that? Just go.