The design mistakes that hold your career back

Red Collar
3 min readJan 30, 2024

Hi everyone! This is Lyudmila Prosvetova, designer at Red Collar. I’m also a mentor for the Design Sprint program, which we ran at Red Collar last year.

I want to talk about some common mistakes that I noticed during my mentoring. Some of these things may seem obvious, but in reality, they are constantly encountered along the way and require special attention.

1. Everyone learns at their own pace. This is something that both mentors and interns need to accept.

2. Designers have different levels of experience and knowledge, so there will never be two people with identical results at the end. It’s pointless to compare yourself to others — it’s better to focus on your own growth at different stages of your journey.

3. New designers often skip important preliminary stages and go straight to designing. This is a dangerous move for two reasons: not only will the designer end up with a mediocre result, but they will also miss out on opportunities to deepen their expertise. Design for design’s sake is worthless. Every decision should be backed up by a reason, supported by arguments, logic, and so on. It’s important to understand the importance of the design process, to know why each stage is necessary and what benefits it will bring.

4. References. There have been many posts on this topic, but I’ll mention it again. It’s important not to ignore this step, especially if the designer is still relatively inexperienced. References are a golden key. They help you understand how you can approach a task and train your taste. It’s important to analyze: what you like, what problem the reference solves, and what composition rules it follows. If you can find different solutions for even small elements in the early stages, it will be easier to come up with truly great solutions in the future. And one more thing: look at different sources. Going only to Google is definitely a bad idea.

5. Design is not about a ready-made instruction manual. Of course, there are basic rules that you need to follow, but there is no single guide. There are too many variables — everything depends on the context, goals, and idea.

6. Don’t break what works. This is about interaction patterns. Often, a beginner tries to show off their creativity: they start to complicate and over-decorate familiar elements for people. As a result, such things become more difficult to use. Another point: some people use familiar patterns in completely unfamiliar contexts, where people don’t expect to see them. Studying UX practices will help you minimize these things.

And most importantly: don’t be discouraged by criticism and take it as something negative. Mistakes are, first and foremost, experience. Analyze them and turn them into growth points.

Stay tuned for Red Collar updates!

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