5 Guiding Principles for Designers

  • Blog
  • 06 April '23
  • 3 mins
  • Rob Helsby

Looking back on my years as a designer in the creative industry, I’ve been through a lot of challenges and had the pleasure of working on some great projects with talented people. I’m blessed to live in a world that is ever-changing, from the tools we use to the media we design for.

In this often tricky, fast-paced and fluid environment, it’s important to maintain and uphold your values. I want to share mine in the hope that it helps young creatives to make the very best of their careers, regardless of their technical skillset, education or upbringing.

1. Work hard and be nice to people. This one is incredibly simple, and everyone is capable of it. The phrase is something of a cliché but it rings true nonetheless. It will help you to get your foot in the door as an intern and gain the respect of your reports as a design leader later in your career. It doesn’t require any skill, talent, or qualifications, so there are no excuses!

2. Simple, Beautiful, and Effective. Striving to create work that delivers on these three goals results in a successful project every time. Remove clutter and create a clear hierarchy. Deliver an experience that looks and feels great, bringing joy to audiences. Ensure that both the end-user and business goals are met. Whether it’s a website, brand, campaign, or product, work towards these goals, and you’ll be on the right path.

3. It’s easier to Iterate than it is to Create. Blank page syndrome affects us all. An empty Figma frame can be a tough arena for creativity to thrive in, especially when the clock is ticking. Maybe I’m showing my age, but I still like to kick-start a design by (quite terribly) sketching out what’s in my head on the nearest scrap of paper I can find. It will be rough, dirty, sometimes illegible, but it will be enough to get me started. From there, I can take it to the screen and begin to wireframe a page, craft a logo, or put together a pitch deck.

4. Great Work wins Great Work. This may sound like an overly simplistic new business strategy, but I firmly believe it’s true. If your portfolio is brimming with top-notch creativity that you can talk about with passion, prospective clients and employers will want to speak to you. It won’t gift you the job, but it opens the door and puts you in a great position to seal the deal.

5. The best project you’ve ever done is always The Next One. Be proud of your work and take ownership of it. Put the maximum effort into everything that you do. When it’s finished, have a short retro to reflect on what went well and where you could have done things a little better. Put steps in place to make sure things improve next time, and when that next brief lands on your desk, make sure you up your game and deliver the best possible response. Push the boundaries and use your last project as the bare minimum standard.

Thanks for reading, I hope it helps you to make the best of your career. I’d love to hear from other people about their own Guiding Principles too! Please feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and we can continue the conversation there.

Headshot of Cantarus' Senior Content Marketer, Tabby

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