10 "Cheats" To Keep You Sharp When You Design

1. Smile

If it is a presentation or a meeting with team members, your presence effects the way people perceive your work. Be your best and make a conscious effort to smile everyday, even when you work remote.  

2. Industry standards

Be aware that most people are unfamiliar with our industry standards. Even between experienced design professionals industry standards can vary. Avoid disappointing deliverables, costly rework, or a mismatch in expectations, clarify industry standards and find common ground between all parties.

3. Connect

Connect on a regular basis with your team members when you work with distributed teams. Nothing is more frustrating when people don't know from each other what they are doing, or who the person is behind the avatar or picture.

4. Understand

Good design is about solving a human problem. Engaging with people, study similar cases and talking with a variety of experts, provide a deeper understanding about a human problem and a framework for developing a solution.

5. Define

Define the problem in a clear and honest way. A well defined problem, supported by all stakeholders, acts as a rule of thumb for everybody involved in development and implementation.

6. Process

Following a process secures deliverables and creates trust among stakeholders. However processes that follow a straight line from start to finish hardly occur. Never make your timeline more important than the problem that needs to be solved. Rather stick with the plan, be realistic about deliverables and inform stakeholders on time. 

7. Design

Be thoughtful when you design. Don't believe that what is broken now, can be fixed later. Users will look for alternatives when you don't acknowledge their problem in a proper way.

8. Thinking

Thinking is a structured, continuous and sometimes confronting process. Thinking is not about generating ideas, it is about being aware of every single step in your design and act accordingly.

9. Testing

Testing is an integral part of design and should not be treated as a one off. Start with a plan about what to test and with whom. Don't cherry-pick the test results, honour the outcome and implement the user feedback.

10. Evaluate

Evaluation improves people, process and the solution. Prepare your team and make time to do a proper evaluation. Evaluation is a teamsport with equal input from every team member and stakeholder.