Last Updated on December 4, 2022 by Rashid Hassan
Being a designer has never been easy. Working with clients, creative directors, marketing managers, and other designers can take a toll on your patience and passion.
It is important, as a professional designer, to avoid practices that could harm your career or the company you work for.
Whether you work as a freelance designer or in a company, avoid the following 15 bad habits that could be killing your design career.
What other habits do you think should be avoided in your design career? Let us know in the comments section.
- 1 1. Skills of poor people
- 2 2. Not setting limits with clients
- 3 3. Complacency
- 4 4. Laziness
- 5 5. Procrastination
- 6 6. Copy other designers
- 7 7. Carrying out specific work
- 8 8. Chance
- 9 9. Work addiction
- 10 10. Shyness
- 11 11. Skip “How High?”
- 12 12. Being disorganized
- 13 13. Not learning from mistakes
- 14 14. Mix of personal and professional
- 15 15. Being cocky
1. Skills of poor people
Few things will kill your design business faster than poor people skills. Clients want a friendly face to greet them and someone who is excited about their project. Avoid complaining, badmouthing, whining, and making excuses.
Maybe you’re a social media whiz and maybe you have a fancy email signature, but sometimes being able to interact professionally with people online isn’t enough. To be successful as a designer, you must have strong people skills: you must be able to communicate a thought, frustration, or message clearly and efficiently.
Learn how to handle difficult clients, overbearing creative directors, and annoying marketing departments; you’ll have to do it all, while managing the inevitable stress of deadlines.
2. Not setting limits with clients
If you work by project, avoid excessive revisions proposed by clients. If you don’t set limitations, your customers will request frequent reviews, which can consume your time and patience.
Allowing clients to request anything may seem like a good policy, but it will be more professional if you set limits with them during the design process. These should be described in your terms of agreement or contract.
I once worked with a designer who insisted on using tables in the design process. We all know that tables have a place in the workflow, but we were dealing with layout and styling that could have been achieved with fairly simple CSS. This designer had become complacent; going down the same path will end your own design career.
Start by identifying the aspects of work that you have become complacent about. Perhaps you are satisfied with your current number of customers, so you put little effort into marketing your business. Perhaps your standards have dropped and you have stopped trying your best and not caring about doing just enough to get paid.
Whatever you are complacent about, conquer it. Start worrying. Change your paradigm and awaken in you the desire to always do your best.
Laziness is the brother of complacency. A lazy designer essentially stops caring about whether their designs look good, their clients are happy, and whether their career will go anywhere. And designers who stop caring become selfish.
They take more time than usual, push deadlines, get in front of your customers and therefore lose customers, lose referrals and kill your business.
Putting off the essential tasks that will help your design business thrive is extremely easy. After all, there are always tweets to read, emails to reply to, articles to read, and personal projects to experiment with.
Get your paperwork done on time, try to meet or beat deadlines, keep reaching out to potential clients, and stay on top of other important tasks. The longer you procrastinate, the easier it will be in the future. It’s a slippery slope.
6. Copy other designers
Copying design masterpieces can be tempting, especially when a client approaches you with a particular idea (“I love the look of this website. Can you do something similar?”).
Overcoming the temptation to copy other designers to please a client can be difficult. Instead, meet with the client to discuss what they like about the job. Once you’ve determined why they like the design, you can create something that meets their needs, without infringing another designer’s copyright.
Deliberate copying can result in huge fines and loss of credibility, ultimately ending your business. Avoid it like the plague.
7. Carrying out specific work
Spec work is a hotly debated topic in the design industry, and we won’t cover it here. Suffice to say that it can really hurt your career if not done correctly.
Some argue that spec work is good for novice designers with little experience, but you can waste time and work by entering crowdsourcing contests. Look for alternative projects that guarantee payment for your work.
Designers often wear faded jeans and wrinkled t-shirts, and frankly, most of the time, I say embrace it. But when dealing with clients, make an effort to dress and act more professional.
When you’re sitting at your desk, working at Wacom, you’re a designer, and jeans and sandals fit that role perfectly. But when you meet clients, you’re an account manager, so at least put on a nice shirt.
When you dress and act professionally, clients will see that you take business seriously. This will build trust.
9. Work addiction
Being a workaholic can actually hurt your business. Good design requires an enormous amount of creativity, and let’s face it, getting the juices flowing is sometimes hard. Some days creating a great logo concept or crisp marketing material seems impossible.
Instead of pushing the limits of your creative powers, take a short break. If you can’t get away from work entirely, alternate projects so you don’t burn out on one.
This may not seem like a “bad habit” in and of itself, but timid designers generally don’t see their business thrive. If you’re shy, you’re unlikely to charge what you’re worth, stand up to customers who treat you poorly, market yourself efficiently, or take advantage of every opportunity to find new customers.
Get out of your bubble and embrace your career. Make things happen for yourself and you will see great success that you can be proud of.
11. Skip “How High?”
There’s nothing wrong with being ready and willing to help customers when they call or email, but some customers take advantage of that kindness. Have you ever heard the expression “When I say ‘jump,’ you say, ‘How high’?” Some clients feel that you exist solely to satisfy their every whim.
When a client tries to take advantage of you (whether it’s not paying you what you deserve or asking for a lot of work in a short amount of time or whatever), don’t let them walk all over you. Defend yourself. Respect yourself as a creative professional and they will respect you too.
12. Being disorganized
I used to let my office space get disorganized and cluttered. It would be like this for a few weeks, and then she would spend an entire Saturday rearranging all the paper and materials she had neglected.
Not only did I lose an entire Saturday every few weeks, I found getting work done in a disorganized space more difficult. I couldn’t concentrate well and I didn’t feel productive.
Stay organized. Create the perfect work environment for you. Create an efficient filing system for your paperwork (both paper and paper) and keep your desk clean (both physical and digital). You’ll find that you work better, find things faster, and have more time to do the things that really make you money.
13. Not learning from mistakes
If something terrible happens to your business, assess the situation and determine what you could have done better. If you have lost a customer, determine how to avoid losing others in the same way. If you haven’t been paid for the work you’ve done, re-evaluate your payment structure so it doesn’t happen again.
Refusing to learn from your mistakes, whether out of stubbornness or arrogance, is a quick way to kill your career.
14. Mix of personal and professional
This bad habit may be obvious, but I have met several designers who have been ripped off because they let a client become more than just a client.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with taking your client out for lunch or coffee to discuss the progress of a project, but be careful not to get too friendly. Turning down a request for a lower price is incredibly difficult when it comes to someone you hang out with every weekend. Watching a great game on your plasma screen can be a bit awkward after disagreeing on the price.
Be careful about the divide between personal and professional, especially if you work from home. Avoid getting too familiar with customers. Maintain a professional relationship with them and your career will be much more successful.
15. Being cocky
I’ll be the first to admit it: designers are great. We do cool stuff. We wow people with our Photoshop skills and clients with phenomenal websites. Still, no one likes a braggart, someone who brags or thinks they are better than others. Don’t be that guy.
Designers have a variety of personality types, but don’t think you’re right just because you’ve been a designer for 10 years. Be open to new ideas, new ways of looking at things, and new styles. Embrace change humbly. Listen to people and take time to appreciate the differences in the way people work.dfuy9m0 ,32