Design speed. Moving past slow opinions.
August 15, 2017
Accused of having a slow design speed at work can be hurtful. It is easy to get caught up in the emotional attachment and neglect the real reasons for this type of feedback. I admit after ten years of being a designer, I still encounter it now. The only difference is that my experience enables me to handle it better. By better, I mean being able to deconstruct it easier.
As a Junior designer, I focused on improving the quality of my craft. I still believe that this was the right mentality and one I would encourage all new designers to have. At the time I took offence to being called a slow designer, I made a mistake. Remember that the expectations of a business differ to that of studying.
Now I use slow feedback to help understand the business objectives better. It does not always mean you have to learn more shortcuts and smash the keyboard faster.
Feel free to ask for examples or experiences that lead people to this opinion. It will help you learn and work on ways to change this feedback. Take a day or two to reflect on it, before making any decisions.
Businesses work at different speeds. Dependant on the industry or service it provides. When you first join a company, It will take some time to adjust to a new rhythm. I find three months is about right for me, to understand the timelines and expectations. The strongest design teams will help each other. Do not be afraid to ask, and make sure you return the favour.
A business owner may believe that faster production leads to more work completed. Leading to a higher turnover. This is a dated theory and can lead to a pressured work schedule. Burn out designers make less money for the business and usually leave. Asking for more freedom in what order you work on projects can help the tempo.
Design speed is subjective. For a project to complete before the deadline, many factors must work together. The designer is one piece of this production puzzle. It is your job to stay in touch with the project, even if it has moved past the design stage. Keeping up to date will help your mindset, should any late alterations crop up.
Working late is another reason to review your design agility. It is so easy to slip in this cycle but very difficult to climb out. When this happened to me, I analysed my workflow. Recording how long certain tasks took me to complete. I then created my own templates which reduced the time taken on repetitive tasks.
Acceleration in Technology is a scary metric right now. As a result, speed is becoming a very important skill to have. Large organisations view being first to market as a huge advantage. That said it is important to learn new tools and workflows. Management must be aware of you experimenting with new software and practices. It will be in the businesses interest to ensure you stay up to date.
There are times to take the ‘slow designer’ label with a pinch of salt. I have found that some people judge my design speed with no prior design experience at all. You should definitely not take offence by these people. In my experience, other aspects have made them unhappy but your design speed was easier to resort to. Try to research what these reasons are.
Remember there is no deadline in developing your talents and skill. You will become faster at anything when you practice it enough.