I am a designer

“Designer” is a label that I’ve struggled with for a number of years.  What does it mean to be a designer?  Have I earned the title?  If yes, what was it that I did.  If not, what do I need to do? Labels are always hard to apply, especially when it comes time to apply them to ourselves.

I am a designer.

If you google the question “What is the definition of a designer”, you’ll find that it says a designer is “a person who plans the form, look, or workings of something before its being made or built, typically by drawing it in detail.”.

Does that mean that every teacher is a designer?  They plan the workings of their lessons before they are presented.  They might draw out how students will interact.

Is a UX designer not, since the way they work isn’t “typically by drawing it in detail.” They think about the information architecture, many times before the information has been fully planned out.

I am a designer.

During one of my first jobs, I worked closely with three people who were all talented designers in very different ways. There was absolutely overlap in the skills they had and the tasks they did, but none of them was any more or less a designer. Each also showed me a different piece of design that needs to be thought about.

Jim could see the big picture better than almost all people I met.  Jeff could see the details, the colors, and the overall language a site gave off.  Foo could see the micro-interactions that really give a website it’s flavor.   I grew working next to and with the three of them.

I am a designer.

To me, deciding what how something should be for another person is what makes someone a designer. This could be deciding the colors they see, the typography they read, or the articles that are highlighted.  It’s not the label that matters nearly as much as the willingness to take the burden of choosing that makes someone a designer.  Yet, even though I take that burden often, it doesn’t make it any easier. Maybe if I repeat that I am a designer enough, I’ll accept that I am a designer.

I am a designer.

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