What It Takes To Create Great Designs — The 11 Qualities Of A Good Designer

Many of our clients tell us how hard they found it to work with designers in the past. It's often a topic of discussion for us what the features of great design are, and what makes a good designer. Hence, we’ve collected a list containing the 11 characteristics of a good designer.

1. Doesn’t design for herself

A good designer does the design for the end user and not for herself. A good designer interviews the target group, builds personas. Another one of the typical characteristics of a great designer is that she cares to do interviews and talk to the users in person. She is able to put aside her own solutions.

2. Doesn’t design for the professional design world

The goal of a good designer is not the collection of awards, but the creation of products that make thousands of people happy day by day. A good designer cannot be influenced just by opinions formed on professional forums, or by the criteria of a competition jury: she has to focus on the end user instead.

3. Good design is more than aesthetics

A good designer can create aesthetic and charming products. Nevertheless, at the same time, she is as much interested in the successful functioning of the product – and I don’t mean programming or a look under the hood, but the actual functioning of the product in the hand of users.

How will they use it? For what purpose will they use it? What will they understand from it? What will they do when first using it? And what will they do for the hundredth time? These are the questions a good designer is tuned in on!

4. Creates heaps of sketches, ignoring if these are lousy

A good designer knows that the first phase of the design process is the unveiling of possible solutions for the problem. In order to do this, she has to sketch a great number of radically different ideas. Most of the best designers are still using paper and pencil for those initial graphic designs.

They willingly explain the underlying ideas to others, ignoring if the sketches look lousy. They are also willing to get design inspiration from others, and also provide that to those in need of some.

5. Knows the pros and cons of each solution

Another important feature of a good designer is that doesn’t want to push you into anything. A good designer brings in a number of drafts, telling the pros and cons of each. There is no perfect solution. The design process is about compromises, to find the best combination that works well within the given circumstances.

A good designer involves the whole team into those design decisions. She isn’t full of herself and doesn’t think she knows more than anyone.

6. Communicate with everyone

Design is connected to everything; therefore, a good designer keeps in touch with the managers, the end users, and the developers as well. If smart, she can incorporate all the different feedbacks into her product, so they strengthening each other, and can actually form a whole in the end. She knows exactly what ideas to accept or not to accept.

7. Has a consciously built design process

An experienced designer continuously develops her working methods. She can precisely tell the stages of her design process. She knows that good design is only born when she goes through that process, only leaving out certain steps if it’s entirely justifiable.

8. Works out everything thoroughly in the end

In the early stages of sketching a lousy draft is completely OK; nevertheless, in the end the designer works out every detail with great precision, preparing for production or programming.

She willingly sneaks in tiny design elements that perk the whole thing up. She is aware of the design phase she is currently in and does her work accordingly, not mixing up the different stages.

9. Has good visual communication skills and ability to explain complicated things

She is able to make complex contents easily comprehensible. Able to communicate visually: her design makes it possible for the user to get the message in a second, which otherwise would take more time.

10. Tests everything, remaking her plans thousand times if necessary

She is humble, not thinking that everything she designs is perfect at once. She constantly shows her drafts to others, especially to the end users. At these occasions, she is a silent observer, trying to assess how people get in touch with her designs.

She is perfectly aware of the interactive nature of the process. She keeps modifying her plans until they become good enough.

11. A good designer constantly learns and develops

This is true for every profession, and design is not the exception to the rule. A good designer constantly develops herself, trying out new tools and methods. She is up to date: relentless in talking to other designers and reading foreign literature. She is willing to grow and try out her new skills.

“How can I become a good designer?”

Stop reading and planning. Stop rehearsing, and stop being afraid. Just start doing it, and you’ll see if it works for you or not.

Our UX company always welcomes Designers to our team who fit the above description. If you happen to know anyone who holds these values, or if you wish to become such a designer –  check our UX studio jobs.

We launched our own product UXfol.io a while ago. It’s a portfolio-maker tool. It also has a blog where we share all kind of useful info about becoming a UX Designer and building an awesome portfolio.

Dávid Pásztor

Founder and CEO of UX studio. Author of the book Product Design, TEDx speaker, one of Forbes 30 under 30. Enthusiastic about self-managing teams, new technologies and human-centered design.