It’s A Great Time To Be A Designer

Jared Spool

October 14th, 2011

Right now, it’s a great time to be a designer, particularly a talented one.

Everyday, more companies are recognizing the value of design. They are realizing they need to have strong design to compete in the marketplace. They see their competitors, even the small ones that don’t offer as full a feature set, are eating away marketshare because they have better designed products.

No place manifests this more than Silicon Valley. Designers, especially good ones, can call their shots there. Companies are in a bidding war for talent.

That means, if you’re a good designer, you have to ask yourself: are you in the right place, right now?

Milton Glaser gave a speech a few years back. He talked about two types of relationships: those that energize and those that exhaust. Milton said he learned, the hard way, that he needed to regularly prune away those relationships that exhaust, focusing on the ones that energize. That was his advice to happiness.

If you’re a good designer, are you in a place where your work energizes you? Or does the organization you work for exhaust you, because it hasn’t realized how important design is to its own success?

Now, it’s not that every day will be free of frustration. But if you’re regularly energized, it’s much easier to face the tough challenges. When you’re exhausted by your work every day, the challenges often feel insurmountable.

When a company doesn’t get the importance of design, it’s rough being a designer there. You constantly have to explain what you do. You have to fight for the simplest things, like the time and resources to do research (and often fail). You see, everyday, how your work could be so much better if you had the right tools, the right support, and enough time to make it work.

It’s scary to think about change. But right now, the timing is right for designers. If the job you’re in isn’t the right one, you owe it to yourself to look at what your options could be.

If you decide you should explore the world of opportunities, think about what you’d want in your next job. A company that values design will push off a ship date because the product’s not well enough designed. Ask if the company has ever done that — that demonstrates whether they have their priorities aligned with yours. Delaying a launch is a hard call. Having done it means they are serious.

Look for other evidence they understand design. Do they take the time to do research? Is everyone in the team involved? Do they iterate frequently? Are they learning good things from each iteration?

These are the signs that a company wants to learn what the best designs are. That yearning to learn makes the workplace really exciting for designers who are innately curious and autodidactic.

It’s a good time to be a designer. Every day should energize you. Are you doing everything you can to make sure that happens? After all, you owe it to yourself.

One Response to “It’s A Great Time To Be A Designer”

  1. Frank Ramirez Says:

    Hi Jared, I agree with every word here. I’ve been doing UX consulting in Silicon Valley for 7+ years and it’s never been hotter. It comes in waves, but right now we can pick and choose. And if you run across any designers who want to relocate to sunny California…

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