What is your design career goal?

over 4 years ago from , Product Designer

Hello DN people!

Have you ever been at a crossroad in your design career thinking 'Where do I want to go now? What do I want to achieve? What is my career goal?'

I love, eat, breathe design — it's been a part of me since I was 10 and I have accomplished my childhood dream of becoming a designer. All good, fast forward... I'm a 22 y.o. Product Designer with 4 years worked in an agency, a global tech company, and a startup.

Now I'm freelancing, and I think it's a great time to look at the big picture. Besides loving design so much, I wonder: what could be the end goal of a design career? Is there even such a thing?

I'd like to hear from you:

  • Did you come at a career crossroad? How did you handle it?
  • What is your design career goal?

Thanks for taking the time to read this, I can't wait to hear your answers!


  • Scott ThomasScott Thomas, over 4 years ago

    The overall theme, stick to your gut and chase what you like to do

    I started out as a CS major and I never took an art class before. However, I knew enjoyed the creativity and wanted to chase it. Took me 3 years to realize it, but I ended up leaving my senior year to go to art school. Seriously the best decision I have made for myself. I wanted and needed that time to learn the basics.

    I thought I wanted to be like Don Draper right out of art school. I had the chance with an ad agency and I realized I reallllly suck at creativity. I'm not an out of the box thinker and edgy marketing wasn't my strength. I had a lot of opportunities to do amazing things in my life that I would never believe I could. However, the constant struggle made it the most depressing time of my life. This humbling experience helped me understand what are my interests and strengths, which was web design.

    The last one was in 2012, just when the term UX was starting to get trendy. I started to work in the web design space and I knew I found my niche. However, my projects started to move from simple sites to complex ones. We never did wireframes, sitemaps, user flows, or even talk to users. I knew there was a better way, so I started to read up and implement UX methods. I wanted to know more but felt like an outsider because I never had an HCI education. I remember applying as a UX intern when I had 4 years of design experience (They laughed at me). I chased jobs to get me in the right atmosphere. Going on my 4th year on my current job and I love it. I learned so much through trial and error.... I don't know what my next step is... however I know what I don't want.

    11 points
  • Diego LafuenteDiego Lafuente, over 4 years ago

    Create a company with good product. Sell it for millions. Enjoy life creating schools and living off-grid.

    7 points
  • Sacha GreifSacha Greif, over 4 years ago

    For me the big crossroad came a few years ago when I realized my designs were never coming to life the way I envisioned them. I could make the best concept in the world, but for various reasons (implementation, coding, business pressures) it would always have to change before becoming reality – if it ever saw the light of day.

    So that led me to learn more about the other parts of the stack (development, marketing, sales, etc.) and focus more on launching my own products. And I think the industry has evolved the same way over the past couple years, with so many designers learning prototyping, front-end coding, etc. instead of staying in the land of static mockups.

    6 points
    • Scott ThomasScott Thomas, over 4 years ago

      Ha, I think I come to that crossroad with every project. It's smart to learn/understand other traits. It helps you focus on features that provide a bigger impact because you see it through another lens.

      If you haven't listened to it yet or anyone, I highly recommend the "how to start a start-up" courses. Some of the talks can fit into any size project.

      0 points
    • barry saundersbarry saunders, over 4 years ago

      I'm curious if you found your designs changing once you moved into launching your own products.

      0 points
      • Sacha GreifSacha Greif, over 4 years ago

        Definitely, they became a lot simpler and less visually heavy. Visual design became less of a priority, but on the other hand branding became more important. Basically strong brand + "simple" design (e.g. bootstrap or similar) beats a weak brand with a fancy UI.

        0 points
        • barry saundersbarry saunders, over 4 years ago

          Yeah, that makes sense. My designs have become a lot simpler / more systematic since I started moving into product ownership and delivery. Suddenly started to understand how much technical debt I was creating every time I introduced something complex.

          1 point
          • Scott ThomasScott Thomas, over 4 years ago

            Ha, been there many times. Sometimes I create a feature ranking list to help determine what to focus on next. Rating the business, user, political values against the technical feasibility.

            Also makes me think of this comic UX Paradox

            0 points
  • andreis .andreis ., over 4 years ago

    The current goal is to grow my vision, strategy, and delegation skills. Having been designing for almost 12 years, I'm now starting to notice that my ideas are outpacing my ability and time available to get those ideas produced/made. I'm ready to transition from an Individual Contributor to a director/manager role so I can produce work at scale.

    4 points
    • Yannic NachnameYannic Nachname, over 4 years ago

      How do you try to archive vision, strategy, and delegation skills? Do you have any recommendations?

      0 points
      • andreis .andreis ., over 4 years ago

        For strategy and vision, I can highly recommend starting with these two books - "Creative Strategy and the Business of Design" by Douglas Davis and "All Of The Other Marketing Books Are Crap" by Denise Kohnke.

        With delegation skills it's a bit more tricky, you can certainly find many books on that topic int the business world, plenty from Harward Business Review for example. But, I think the practical side needs to be explored just as much as the theoretical.

        To practice, come up with a simple design project, let's say a landing page. Work on the creative brief and a project brief (from the two books above, you'll learn that these two briefs are very different, and writing each takes time and effort). And then, find a freelancer to get it done. For the sake of experiment, go with Upwork or Fiver, so you are not spending too much of your own $ to learn on your own mistakes :)

        You can also add more complexity where you are working separately with a copywriter, designer, and developer. This experience will most definitely elevate your project management and delegation skills.

        Hope that helps!

        1 point
  • Filipe GonçalvesFilipe Gonçalves, over 4 years ago

    Since many people have already provided good answers within the industry, I will leave my 1cent talking about how I came to handle it by moving away from the industry.

    A few years ago, I started wondering the same as you. I have been in the "design umbrella" for about 8 years by that time. It wasn't 8 intense years like the ones you read on Medium, but it was 8 years doing design stuff. I changed my focus a lot, which made me what we call today a Designer Generalist. It was a nice ride, with lots of curves and much more good moments than bad ones. Still, I felt like I wasn't fulfilled. It wasn't entirely "design" the problem. I felt unfulfilled by the community and industry I was living in: ego, people trying to sell themselves as if they were products (still see many people arguing this is healthy), more tools being released and this strong feeling that if you don't learn it you will get behind, articles made up to look smart but far from reality, little honesty... and the one that made me change: too many people believing they were changing the World (spoiler alert: they were not).

    I took the decision to step back and leave any project related to the tech world. For about 8-10 months I didn't check articles about design, didn't study it, didn't open a tech project. My idea was not to just rebel. I honestly needed this time to see things the way most of the people see it (i.e. non-tech people).

    After many months and lots of new learnings in the offline world, I started missing the projects. Then, I realised what kind of project and career I wanted: I wanted to make an impact on people's live. Not change the World, which would be nice but less likely. I went for it. It's been 3 years since I started designing again and now I can answer most of the questions I had back then (on the other hand, I have plenty more ethical and health-related questions than I used to have before it :P).

    I may hit a career crossroad very soon... but, to sum it up, I believe I don't have a design career goal. Design is my profession and it helps me achieve my life goals. As far as I am having fun and helping my colleagues/company progress without harm... it's all fine :) And if it's not, luckily design is only one of the infinite professions out there.

    Hope you all are having a nice day :) Cheers!

    3 points
  • Ken Em, over 4 years ago

    To get out of the industry. In the last few years I've been largely successful in doing that.

    3 points
  • Blemmy C, over 4 years ago

    Learning to code

    3 points
  • Will Vaughan, over 4 years ago

    Pay attention to what aspects of your job you like and what you don't and find opportunities that challenge you while letting you pursue what you enjoy! You're still relatively early in your career. If you were to retire at 60 you'd still have 38 years left!

    Design has a number of end games. You can pursue management and become a people manager to build teams and help build careers. You could become a design director and lead a UX or product design org. You could pursue a pivot to business or development which would both benefit from UX skills. The key is to continuously evaluate what you enjoy doing and why.

    3 points
  • James HJames H, over 4 years ago

    I think I'm at the same stage in my career as you, although sticking to a full-time role for now. Recently, I've been put off design as a career itself (for a variety of reasons, big and small) and become more interested in tech and business—for that reason I'm more drawn to either starting my own company (long-term) and potentially becoming a Product Manager (mid-term).

    2 points
  • Mike DelsingMike Delsing, over 4 years ago

    Previously I have dealt with this problem by getting a new job or new freelance project... but I feel like I'm in a career crossroads still because I want more in my future. Im a web designer, and I know I can make other companies look amazing. My new goal is to start something for myself and make my own company or products look good (while keeping current job).

    My first step is to learn some coding so Im not reliant on anyone else. We will see what I start (online business, drop shipping, youtube, idk)

    2 points
  • Klark Dollson, over 4 years ago

    I was always want to be designer but I was dont know what need to do at first. I ended a courses in the Internet and decided makes a portfolio when I was ended this part I taked a my first customer It was really wonderful expiriance for me. And now Im work on freelance and last my work was site for barbershop where they describe all hairdresses, jewfro, comb over, short haircuts for men https://menshaircuts.com/short-haircuts-for-men-guide/ and so on. Its interesting work.

    1 point
    • Melinda lucy, almost 3 years ago

      I always wanted to be a designer, but at first I didn't know what to do. I finished a course online and when I finished this episode I decided to create a portfolio. I got my first client. It ended really wonderful for me. And now I'm freelance and my last job is blogging about Popular Hairstyles .

      0 points
  • Christopher Mansfield, over 4 years ago

    I believe in expanding horizons and hope to work within many different industries with design. Right nowI mainly do so through online courses or powering through books.

    As design is so broad there is a constant compound effect at play where principles from e.g. Product Design are applicable elsewhere. I hope my approach will allow me find work by through curiosity and inspiration.

    One concern with this approach is becoming a generalist and not building a vertical of expertise. I will have to look for unique overlaps or select themes to work on for an extended period of time.

    1 point
  • Vlad Dovbyshchuk, over 4 years ago

    just started in the design, would love to grow to Product Designer one day...

    1 point
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    0 points
  • Richard Baker, over 2 years ago

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    0 points