Designers: Master your tools

I’ve been speaking with many junior designers trying to hire someone. One question I ask them is how good they are at their design tool. (Figma, Adobe XD, etc)

The answer I have been getting is about 7/10. This is really shocking to me, especially considering they are graduating from prestigious design colleges.

What are they teaching in these schools?! To be blunt, this is the what I need a designer to know:

  1. Great at Figma (Must be 9/10)
  2. Understand user interface patterns (trees, menus, tabs, radio buttons, checkboxes, tables, filters, buttons, drag and drop, etc)
  3. Information display patterns (charts, data display)
  4. Read About Face by Alan Cooper and Information Dashboard Design by Stephen Few

I don’t need to know they can do a sticky note wall or make a persona. I don’t care about making case studies. I don’t care if they know how to do a contextual interview or design a statistically relevant experiment. I care if they can do the job.

The job is making UI prototypes in Figma. All day, every day.

It seems like these things should be pre-requisite course work in any HCI program.

This is how I’ve spent my time as a designer over the past 25 years:

  1. Making UI
  2. Attending meetings
  3. Recruiting

I lay the blame on design schools and bootcamps. However, if you have recently graduated, you need to take control of your career and education. Be a harsh critic of your own skills. Are you a master of your tool? Are you a master of user interface?

To be clear, you do not need years of experience to be a master. You need a solid week of trying out all of Figma’s features. You need to read those two books. Let me know if you are ready and want to apply to work with me.


Whatya think?