Although my current day job is as a User Experience (UX) Designer for Digital Science, I also have a genuine interest in the history of design and art – which in turn gives me a greater understanding of why things happen in the field of UX. This understanding also helps explain why work practices are the way they are, something which is very useful during the creative process.

To be a successful creative professional, having a greater awareness of your field helps to make you better at your job, but it’s not just about understanding the history of your role – there are other proactive things you can do to help boost your career.

As a UX Designer, I have a lot of advice bubbling away for other professionals in a similar circumstance to me. Not just for those who are keen to be the best they can, but for those who are fighting to get noticed amongst the competition. So I wanted to share some of my thoughts (which I am sure applies to other professions too) with a hope to crowdsource more – because gaining a better insight is always helpful!

Network online and off

Firstly, engage, engage, engage! Meet with people in the same arena both offline and online. Networking is a fantastic way to learn more about your industry. Speaking to people is always helpful as you can learn from others too. Hopefully, one day, you will get to a point where you become the expert and people will want to talk to you.

Online, Twitter provides an excellent medium for this. Here are a few tips:

  • Follow relevant hashtags
  • Find people in your field to follow
  • Take a look at lists
  • Engage with influencers in your field
  • Share interesting and relevant news

Don’t forget, technology changes quickly so you need to be active in the online community to see what is happening and keep on top of things, or else you’ll quickly find that your skill set becomes redundant.

Tackle the imposter syndrome

Quite often, as creative people, we get a bit insecure and question whether we are good enough! Tackle this “imposter syndrome” by making sure you are doing all you can to be the best in your field. Exorcise your demons, get critical feedback from others on your work, act on their advice, get feedback from a variety of sources – it will help improve your work and your attitude.

Put your work out there!

I put all of my art work and paintings in a public forum – even work from when I was 17 (which was a long time ago)! I have both professional work and creative stuff out there. Potential clients really appreciate this transparency and being able to see the full collection of work you have produced. You don’t have anything to hide – so why not showcase it!

The finished products that we display on our sites do not always tell the full story of how we got there. Having the bulk of your development work, like sketches and post-it notes, gives a clearer idea of your thinking processes, which is actually more of an interesting story than just a final glossy piece of work.

Generally, BE SOCIAL!

  • Be active on social media – not just Twitter – there are lots of other great places to network like Facebook, Reddit and LinkedIn or more industry specific places like Dribble and Behance
  • Keep up with the latest news – subscribe to relevant blogs and news outlets
  • Go to conferences – offer up your help – could you join as a speaker?
  • Start your own blog and contribute to other blogs in your field
  • Attend relevant and informal meetups – if they don’t exist in your area – why not start them?
  • Start conversations online, ask questions
  • Showcase your work – put it in a public forum for anyone to see
  • Give feedback on other people’s work and in turn, ask people to comment on your work

Finally, don’t seek fame, it will find you!

Do not chase fame, this comes with being a good designer and with expertise. Raising your own professional profile is a side effect of the items discussed above, it comes with hard work, dedication and being proactive.

So, what advice do you have? Please share with me on Twitter, I am @Mustafa_x

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