r/graphic_design - 9 things we’ve learned in 12 years in Tech & Design


A collection of essential principles we have picked up along the way:

Through our 12 year careers, we’ve picked up these principles from literature and personal experience that have helped us survive in the new digital wilderness. We hope they help you too:

The Five Agreements

  1. Be impeccable with your word.

  2. Avoid taking anything personally.

  3. Avoid making assumptions.

  4. Always do your best, not more, not less.

  5. Love ourselves and treat others how we would like to be treated. [The Four Agreements, 1997]

A prototype is worth 1,000 meetings

Fast, iterative prototyping means no more long meetings, expensive decks, or painful deliberation — just quick solutions to solve the biggest challenges.

Better done than perfect

Perfection is an illusion of the mind. Get it done first, then improve it.

Pain + reflection = progress

There’s no progress without reflecting on pain. Do this often. [Principles, 2017]

Endure the lows, optimize the highs

There are going to be low points in the ride. Endure them. There will also be high points. Optimize them. [The Messy Middle, 2018]

Don’t estimate your time. Instead, budget it

Every time we estimate how long something will take us, it’s accurate — said no one EVER. Budget your time by taking the total amount of time you have, and give yourself chunks of time to finish the tasks you need. For example, let’s say you have one week to build a website. Instead of estimating every task individually (a waste of time that’s not going to be accurate anyway), give yourself a budget of one day for research, two days for design and two days for development.

Encourage disagreement with suggestions AND commitment

  • Good scenario: There’s a possible decision. You disagree and give another suggestion. Everyone evaluates the possibilities with a focus on what’s best for the customer. Regardless of the decision, you commit all the way.

  • Bad scenario: There’s a possible decision. You disagree but don’t suggest an alternative. You don’t commit. The guaranteed next step is blame — whether on the decision, the people, the tools, or the process — and everything is going to feel like an eternal loop of problems without solutions. That’s a recipe for a toxic culture. [Inspired by Amazon Leadership Principles]

Prioritize emotional intelligence

“The most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: They all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but…they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions.” — psychologist Daniel Goleman

Self-awareness is at the core of emotional intelligence. It allows a person to understand their strengths and weaknesses. More importantly, it helps one recognize their emotions and their effect on their team and their team’s performance. This is critical as a leader because it underscores all other types of intelligence. You might excel at your job on paper, but if you can’t effectively communicate with your team or clients, you will quickly plateau. We could write a whole separate blog on why emotional intelligence is so important, but this article from Harvard Business School provides an excellent overview.

Exercise your body, mind, and spirit.

Take care of yourself. Your work is a reflection of how you feel; if you’re in good shape mentally, physically and spiritually, your work will reflect that.

Read the step by step post on UX Collective:


What are some of the principles you have collected along your journey?

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