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What Designers Can Learn from Other Professions

There are a myriad of different, interesting and challenging professions in our world and although we hopefully all agree that being a designer is the most awesome profession ever, there are many other jobs that can teach designers some valuable lessons.

We’re going to list some of those here and explain what exactly we can learn and how we can profit from each one of them.

The Architect: Pay Attention to the Details

The Architect: Pay Attention to the Details
Even though there are many abilities and talents a successful architect needs to have, one of the most important ones certainly is the rigorous observation every little detail receives. Without it houses and buildings would collapse or look like a random pile of junk rather than miraculous and balanced structures.

Even if there won’t be any collapsing houses, designers should pay just as much attention to details as an architect does. Not only will it help prevent gross errors and mistakes, but it will also make a design look more professional and harmonized.

The Cook: Choose and Match the Right Ingredients

The Cook: Choose and Match the Right Ingredients
The profession of the cook is closer to the one of the designer than we might think. I actually had a hard time picking just one of the many things we could learn from them.

Just like a cook a designer works with different ingredients (resources) and needs to pick and match them the right way in order to create a delicious meal (design). Certain combinations just work with each other, whether it’s porc meat and sage or a paper texture with a grungy font, but that shouldn’t stop us from experimenting every once in a while. Being creative in mixing and combining different resources is essential in both professions and leads to new, exciting creations.

The Gardener: Constant Care Is the Key to Success

The Gardener: Constant Care Is the Key to Success
If you’re going to ask a gardener what’s one of the most effective ways of having a beautiful and prospering garden he’ll most probably tell you that the constant and steady care is essential.

The exact same rule applies to us designers. Just designing a product or a web site, sending it off and forgetting all about it will result in nothing but temporary success and appeal. Even though this rule applies more to web designers, who need to make sure that the web sites they designed are always up to date, it should matter just as much to print designers – offline information changes after all just as much as online content.

The Journalist: Do Your Research

The Journalist: Do Your Research
Nothing is more embarrassing and costs you more credibility as a journalist than publishing an article that is based on wrong facts or, even worse, on none.

The importance of proper and well-conducted research for a designer is sometimes overlooked, but we need to remind ourselves that our designs might be seen by thousands (if we’re lucky even millions) of people and, similar to journalists, it should be written/designed with them in mind. That requires us to get to know them, the industry we’re designing for, our client, the competition and many other deciding factors.
But all this effort will result and reward us with a great final product that is not only tailored to the client’s requirements, but also to the end users’ needs.

The Contractor: Choose the Right Tools

The Contractor: Choose the Right Tools
Building a house and designing something are similar processes to a certain degree. You start with a foundation and basic structure and move step by step on to smaller and more detailed tasks.

One of the most important choices contractors as well as designers have to make is what tools they want to use in order to execute their job properly. A contractor wouldn’t use a screwdriver to put a nail in a wall, but a hammer and neither should a designer use Photoshop to design a logo, but rather Illustrator. Using the right tools and applications will assure that you can let your creative juices flow and still deliver the ideal end-product.

The Secretary: Be Organized

The Secretary: Be Organized
Even though there are many jobs that require a certain level of organization, the one of the secretary certainly stands out. Knowing where to find which important document, always having the right contact information at hand and constantly sorting and filing all sorts of papers demands an extraordinary amount of organization and structure.

Even if the amount of documents and files a designer is dealing with on a daily basis is moderate compared to what a secretary goes through, organizational skills come quite in handy. This extends to more than just papers though – having a tidy folder structure on your computer, properly named and grouped layers in your .psd-files and an elaborate tagging system for your fonts will make you work faster and much more efficient.

The Doctor: Listen to Your Patients

The Doctor: Listen to Your Patients
Although Dr. House tries to prove us otherwise every week, listening to the patient is an important step during the diagnostic process of a doctor. Essential details that wouldn’t be revealed without talking to a patient can often change everything.

The patients of a designer are his clients – listening to them and what they want and think is vital. No one knows the target group and industry of a web site or brochure as good as the client itself and designing with the information you received while talking to your client can make all the difference. And just as doctors you shouldn’t only listen, but also ask relevant questions; after all it eases your job.

The Photographer: Trust Your Instincts

The Photographer: Trust Your Instincts
One of my favorite photography quotes comes from the great American landscape photographer Ansel Adams:“There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.”
Even though photography has certain principles and basics, just like design does, there is no step by step guide to capturing the perfect photograph. A good photographer needs more than just technique to be successful, a certain talent and natural feel are just as important.

It is likewise for Designers: You have to know all the basics of design, such as typography, color theory and contrast, but if a design doesn’t feel right, it isn’t, most of the times. Sometimes it isn’t a bad idea to go with your gut and figure out later why it makes sense.

The Scientist: Network with Your Colleagues

The Scientist: Network with Your Colleagues
If any occupational group has more conventions and meetings than web designers and developers it’s certainly the scientists. Many great ideas and technologies we enjoy nowadays were born through collaboration. Even if a scientist works alone, he certainly corresponds and interacts with others on a regular basis

Networking with others is just as fundamental for Designers and thanks to social networking (Twitter, Facebook) you don’t need to travel all over the world anymore in order to do so. Exchanging ideas and thoughts with other like-minded people will inspire you and give birth to new ideas and creations.

The Web Developer: Know HTML and CSS

The Web Developer: Know HTML and CSS
The last profession we’re discussing here is a little bit of a homage and my 5 cents to the “Should (web) designers know how to code” debate that currently takes place in the community. I personally think that web designers should at very least know the basics of HTML and CSS – the more the better. It will make you a better web designer, because you will know what can and can’t be done online and what you have to consider when designing for the web. At best you can even code your designs on your own and eventually save some time and money.

So, what do you think? Are there other professions you would add to the list? Please feel free to share your opinions and ideas in the comment section.

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Comments so far

  1. Polly says:

    Interesting point of view. I really enjoyed this article.

  2. elliotttee says:

    “A good snapshot stops a moment from running away.” If I may, in this case “a good article stops a moment from running away”. I can’t help but love the uniqueness of your post. Keep up the designlove.

  3. MadRukus says:

    Great article I like how you compared the professionals

  4. Silviya says:

    Interesting article! Might add The sportsman: Do it with passion and love!

  5. Logobird says:

    Good perspective. Enjoyable article…thanks!
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  6. That is some useful and interesting information given here, thanks alot for sharing it with us all. It’s always good to look after your site, maintain it, keep it upto date, make sure the design layout looks nice and the colours go together. Great blog. ^__^

  7. Bryan says:

    Nice article! Made me think. I like the Gardener and how constant care is important; that can be coupled with passion. I have interviewed many people that receive awards in their industries and it seems that the commonality for outstanding people in any field is their passion for what they do.
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  8. Kim says:

    Great post. but I would like to add:

    Salesman: learn how to sell your work
    A lot of talented designers and artists don’t know how to sell themselves. Art and design schools don’t teach that.

    And I don’t agree really with doctors. What you are saying should be the reality but a lot of them are like Dr House, they don’t listen to their patients and talk to them like if they were children.

  9. sebastian greeen says:

    great little list, never thought about the professions you mentioned and how aspects of them should be used by designers. Thanks

  10. Demir says:

    great article with a different viewpoint. really fun to read this.
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  11. Aidan says:

    This is a great article. We can learn from so many different professions as each of them have their uniqueness.
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  12. free articles for your website says:

    A lot of things in one place, thanks..

  13. Designers can definitely learn from photographers. The end result really had to ‘look and feel’ right. You have to trust your creative skills.

  14. very unique article. It is great how you compare different professions.It makes us realize that no matter what your profession might be, you’ll surely contribute to other people especially on insights

  15. Great insight. As designers we tend to get narrow vision and only think about the creative aspect but never consider all the other vrey important things that make a successful and talented designer.

  16. Very interesting and true article. I think all the professions can learn something else from the other professions.

  17. Certainly a very good article. Great article. Love the combination of professions.

  18. Texture Plus says:

    Nice post i like that! You can check it out my website also i have some free textures, graphics, backgrounds and patterns hope you will like too.!

  19. Indeed web designing is an all-in-one profession. You get to play different roles through the duration of your project. This is a nice and playful way of describing a web designers task. I enjoy reading your article!

  20. Designers require synergy in their work. One work contributes another creative task.

  21. Impressive. Good analogy in designing. The most important thing in design is to create with passion.Whatever profession we have, if we do it with passion, everything will come out perfectly.

  22. I think being organized is very important and is one of the things most web designers miss. By keeping my PSD files and layers neatly organized in a library I’m able to create my own templates and use graphics I created years ago easily which helps me create new web designs faster.
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  23. It is a unique way of learning from other profession. As a web designer, one needs to see elements from other professions that would benefit his/her craft in designing. Thanks for the post!

  24. mike says:

    People in other professions are comfortable with ambiguity: openhandedness; not prejudging the solution; take chances, take risks; try multiple solutions. These are the marks of other profession which can be infused in a designer’s frame.

  25. Lingwee says:

    I think that is why some employers look to hire those with experience in other fields. If you get a bunch of people who only have one set of skills and one angle to view things from it makes things difficult.

  26. robert says:

    Creative professionals will find that if they get into the mood of the project – and ask the client what kind of mood they want their brand to feel like, and try your best to use that as an advantage.

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