What makes you love being a designer?

Tonight I was chatting with a friend, and he asked a question that comes up with my friends and family on a fairly regular basis: “Why do you love being a designer so much?”

Normally I ramble off a long list of detailed reasons, most of which include design jargon and acronyms. This time I decided to break it down into 7 easy to digest one liners. They went something like this:

  1. Creating something that didn’t previously exist is intoxicating and addictive
    It’s kind of like having kids. First there’s an idea. Then over time it turns into this amazing thing that exists, and you are its creator. Once you’ve been bitten by the design bug, you’re a lifer.
  2. Solving people’s problems is incredibly rewarding
    When you’re designing a new feature or product, your focus is on trying to solve a problem for a specific audience. You research, you interview, you do kick off meetings; all of these actions help ensure that you’re solving the right problem. Once you’ve nailed down the problem, you brainstorm all the zillion ways you could solve it. Eventually a lightbulb goes off and you come to the magic design solution: the square peg to fill that square hole.
  3. There is always something exciting to look forward to
    No matter how much you love a design, when you finish it you’re proud and excited for about 30 seconds. Then the 31st second hits and you’re consumed by thinking of all of the great enhancements & changes you want to make to the next iteration.
  4. You will never, ever know everything
    As a designer you learn new tips and tricks and find new tools every single day. Trends change, new tech is created, new languages are written, tools are enhanced & tools disappear. You have to enjoy being a life long learner to survive in the design profession.
  5. Design inspiration is everywhere, your mind never stops creating
    Everywhere you look, you’re taking in detail and drawing inspiration. There are the expected places, like design blogs, sites like Dribbble, & Muz.li, etc., but the main source of design inspiration comes from EVERYTHING AROUND YOU. It may be the shade of the orange on your countertop, the shape of a lamp post you see during your daily commute, the geometric design on your comforter, the shading created by your shadow on the sidewalk, the vibrance of flower petals — there is a never ending stream of inspiration all around you.
  6. Designers want to fix all of the things
    As a designer, in addition to seeing inspiration everywhere you look, you see things that need to be fixed. Poorly designed doors are your nemesis. Oddly arranged grocery store layouts give you a twitch. Kerning in school holiday performance programs can be painful to look at. It’s not negativity driving these observations, it’s a deeply rooted need to fix these things that makes them stand out. You constantly imagine ways to improve the world around you. And when you get to act on those thoughts? It’s a great day.
  7. Designers are always surrounded by a deeply passionate, supportive community of like minded people
    Being a designer means you’re part of something big. Designers understand each other because we process the world around us in similarly different ways. It makes us close knit in a way that other professions don’t seem to understand. The design community is a family that celebrates thinking outside the box, and imagining that the impossible is possible. We embrace this line of thinking because all of the most innovative creations have come from designers who have made impossible things exist.

My friend’s response was, “I’m pretty jealous that you found a career that you love so much. Most people never get to experience that feeling.”

He’s absolutely right. Having the opportunity to wake up in the morning and know that you’re going to have the opportunity to improve the world around you through design is an amazing gift. It’s also a deep rooted addiction, but one you can enjoy guilt free.

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