Don’t be a tool

Recently I wrote an article about how to be of value as a designer. I want to elaborate on the last point some more. Basically: don’t be a tool!

  • Don’t be used as a tool
  • Don’t use others as a tool

don’t be used as a tool

The most well-known designer allergy is when a client or stakeholder tells you how to design.

  • Make the logo bigger…
  • Make the button bigger…
  • Use this or that colour/font/shape…
  • Use this [insert some low-resolution image found on google]…
  • … etcetera

You get the picture. It is just annoying when others use you as a tool because they cannot design or operate design tools themselves. Let designers do the designing!

You are a skilled and talented designer with professional pride. You should be treated as such and act like one. Use your “always be asking questions, even the stupid ones” superpower to get to the bottom of any request and ensure you come up with the appropriate solution.

Don’t use others as a tool

Now this one I find interesting. Designers want to be treated as the talented and skilled professionals they are, yet they insist on using others as tools.

Yes, let that sink in for a minute and let me be clear: Your developers, testers, architects, business analysts and whoever is also involved in your team: are not a tool!

I know designers don’t like to ‘design as a committee’ or ‘co-create’. And to a large degree, I understand and even agree. You cannot please everybody, nor should you strive to do so.

But on the other hand, if you work as a designer in a development team, it is unfair to come up with new features under wraps only to be revealed when it is ‘done’. Don’t be giving big reveal presentations, and expect developers to be wildly enthusiastic because they get to be your tool and build what you have created ‘on paper’.

Realize that each member of your development team is skilled, talented and has professional pride. They want to do their best, insert their knowledge and be of value. It would be arrogant to dismiss their input for the sake of time or inconvenience (yes yikes, they might have a different opinion).

Just imagine the level of motivation, engagement and ownership within your team if you do involve them early and maturely. Those are the teams you’ll want to be a part of; they get things done (and they have your back)!

Thanks for reading. You are amazing, you know that, right?!