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What makes a great designer?

“Everything is designed. Few things are designed well.” -Brian Reed

In this industry, it can be difficult to stay inspired, express your creativity and keep up with latest trends. However, being a designer has many more aspects than just putting a few colours together and hoping for the best. No. Every designer brings something unique and exclusive to a project because every designer carries with them a different forte.

I’ve worked in this industry for many years and believe that every truly great designer possesses certain qualities that make them exceptional to work with and work for.

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Here are my top 4 qualities I believe will propel you forward within this industry

Attention to detail

It may seem like an obvious point however this can often be overlooked in the workplace – especially when there are deadlines and the pressure of finishing a project within a certain timeframe. Attention to detail is crucial however as the slightest mishap could be detrimental to the overarching finished product. A great way to avoid making minor – but damaging – mistakes is to take a step back from the project, grab yourself a cup of tea, talk to a neighbour and then come back to your desk to relook at the piece. You might even find inspiration from this time away that you wouldn’t have been able to get whilst looking at a screen.

Listening

As ‘creatives’, every project is personal whether you would like to admit it or not. The amount of time and effort that goes into making every piece of work the best that it can be can be draining but the designers who do it well are those that can listen to the needs of others. Your clients may think they know what they want but are really looking to you for guidance and advice. The flip side to this is that there are many clients who have a vision of what they want and listening closely to the language they use, knowing where they have got their inspiration from and understanding what they are trying to achieve all marks the characteristics of a great designer. Remember, not all clients will be clued up on trends therefore expressing your creative flair is important but not always necessary to deliver a project they will be happy with. At drp we are continually asking our clients ‘Y’. This allows space for our designers to truly understand the backstory of a decision to determine whether it is the right one for them.

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Solution oriented

In any industry there will come a point where you have done your very best and yet there are things that go wrong. Technology fails. Deadlines are moved forward. Another area of the project fails or doesn’t deliver the necessary materials… Oh, the list goes on. However, being solution focused is key to ensuring timely delivery and exceptional results. As designers, you really can’t sweat the small stuff but you can’t ignore them either. If, and when, it does go wrong, you must be able to look at the bigger picture, fail fast and make quick, efficient decisions to allow the team to carry on without a big distraction.

Communication

The ability to communicate efficiently is 80% of finding a solution and being able to understand the brief in its entirety. As designers, it can be easy to stay swamped in your own work and avoid communication with the team to get the job done. However, this can also stint your growth as a team as well as an individual. The way in which designers communicate can vary however and does not mean back-to-back meetings all day with nothing getting done. Designers can communicate through their sketches, brain storming sessions, using different software programmes, writing or speaking to another team mate. Exceptional designers are exceptional communicators. If you struggle to find inspiration or communicate an issue you might be having, why not try different methods of working or talking to a colleague about how they might deal with a problem. The lack of communication within your team can harm the standard of delivery and thorough communication can, actually, lead to better results.

"A great way to avoid making minor – but damaging – mistakes is to take a step back from the project, grab yourself a cup of tea, talk to a neighbour and then come back to your desk to relook at the piece."

These are just a few points I discovered whilst working within the creative design industry however, bringing your own flair to a project is essential for personal growth. Every individual perceives the world differently and absorbs inspiration from their unique experiences in a different way to their peers. A great designer is not complete without a strong team so ensuring you are working with people who respect your creativity and individual talents is key.

If you are a budding designer or you are an industry veteran, remember inspiration truly is everywhere and although it can be easy to wrap yourself in a bubble, fail fast and keep moving forward.

By David Withers – Head of Design