Setting resolutions at the end of the year is a good tradition for many people. While we may not accomplish everything we want to do, writing something down at the end of the year can at least help us formulate our intentions.
In this article, I want to share 12 fresh ideas that will help you become a better designer in 2019.
1. Update your portfolio
You probably worked on multiple projects this year. But did you add them to your portfolio? Probably not. Of course, working on a new project is always more interesting than describing the one that is already finished. So we often find excuses like, “I’m busy right now, I’ll do it later.”
The problem with this excuse is that it’s simply not working. New projects come all the time, so you’re always busy. Thus, it’s essential to find the time in your schedule to update your portfolio.
Don’t think of updating portfolio as a tedious exercise—instead, think of it as an excellent opportunity to look back on the accomplishments of the past year. And it’s possible to make this resolution even easier—don’t put all the projects you work on during 2018 in your portfolio. Instead, choose the one that you proud the most, and describe it in details.
You might also like: How to Build a Great Design Portfolio — Shopify Designers Weigh In.
2. Clear out your workspace
At the end of the year, you’ll have a lot of things both on your working desk and your desktop—outdated user research reports, old print-outs, half-baked layouts, and more. The beginning of the year is a perfect time to sort out your documents. Leave only what you need for future use and get rid of the rubbish.
3. Experiment with technology and widen your skill set
To be a successful designer, it’s essential to keep learning and growing all of the time. The start of a new year is a great time to start learning a new skill.
There are a lot of exciting things happen in the world of design all the time, so it might be challenging to figure out where to start. Below are some of the trends that we expect to be popular in 2019. They’re a good place to get started widening your skill set for the next year.
- Design of voice-enabled interfaces. Voice is quickly becoming a preferable way of interaction for many types of products. Designers should be ready to craft experiences for this medium.
- Augmented reality. You might wonder, why AR, not VR? The answer is simple—AR is well-suited for mobile devices, and can enhance mobile experiences for users. Big companies understand this and are investing in AR experiences. The rise of AR frameworks such asARCore and ARKit are a clear sign that in 2019, many designers will be working on creating AR experiences. Thus, it's best to be ready for this challenge.
- Artificial intelligence. Personalization is just one of the areas where AI will shine in 2019.
You might also like: 12 Web Design Trends That Will Push the Industry Forward in 2019.
4. Explore new ways of solving old problems
Experienced designers have ready-to-use solutions for almost any design challenges. Some solutions are reused over and over again. 2019 might be the year when you shake off familiar patterns in the attempt to find more creative ways of solving challenges.
For example, when you need to design an authorization in a mobile app, you could experiment with using facial recognition technology or a fingerprint scanner instead of an old-n-boring login-password combo. Using biometric authentication can make the authentication experience much more accessible for users, and this will have a profound effect on user experience.
5. Share your knowledge
When was the last time that you shared your knowledge with others? Many designers postpone or skip this opportunity entirely. But it’s vital to understand that teaching others about design directly benefits your own work. You learn by sharing the methods you use, listening to the questions of others, and reflecting on them.
Teaching comes in many different formats. You can:
- Write a blog post about design. Share your case study or write an article about UI trends. No matter what topic you choose, writing will help you think more deeply about it. Ideally, you should try to write regularly.
- Speak at meetup or conference. Share valuable information with the design community and exercise your public speaking skills.
- Create a course on Skillshare or Udemy. Maybe even earn extra income on the side.
- Start a channel for designers on YouTube. Make some online tutorials for your favorite design tool.
You might also like: How to Submit a Guest Post.
6. Drink less coffee
There’s a good reason why coffee is so popular among designers—caffeine gives us the boost of energy we need to get our work done. And while caffeine isn’t always a bad thing per se, there are always better ways to energize yourself.
Here are a few simple things you can do in 2019 to cut back on the coffee habit:
- Exercise regularly. Sports are an excellent source of energy.
- Avoid sitting at a desk all day. Don’t spend your lunchtime in the office—get outside and walk around the block.
- Spend less time watching YouTube and Netflix in the evening. Instead, try to dedicate more hours to sleep.
You might also like: Conquering Our Caffeine Addiction: 8 Surprising Substitutes for Coffee.
7. Create a more effective workflow
Make productivity a priority in 2019—try to get more of your work done in less time.
All designers have their workflows—specific steps they follow when crafting a design. It’s impossible to work more efficiently without rethinking the way we do things. Thus, pause day-to-day work to rethink your workflow. Look at what you’re currently doing, and figure out what works well and what requires refinement.
Some ways of optimizing your workflow include:
- Automating routine design operations. For example, stop preparing design specs manually, and start to use special tools. Zeplin or Sympli can save time on preparing design specifications.
- Establishing an active feedback loop in your design process. Form a habit of sharing your ideas with other people on a regular basis, and implement their feedback in your design solutions.
- Proactively working with developers. By getting developers involved in the design process as early as possible, you’ll save a lot of time down the road.
You might also like: Giving Feedback: What We’ve Learned About Building Strong Design and Development Teams.
8. Strike a better work-life balance
When you work as a full-time designer, it’s very easy to become completely consumed by the job. And the worst case scenario is when you switch your entire focus to work, forgetting about the rest of your life.
There’s a good reason to figure out how to be more productive—you’ll have more time to spend with your friends and family. Don't suspend or put off personal activities in favor of more work. No matter how many projects you participate in, always make some time to see loved ones. This is especially important when you have kids—spend more time with your kids, especially when they’re young, and try to be the best parents you can.
9. Start a side project
The primary reason for starting a side project isn’t to kill time or make an extra buck. The primary goal is to explore your passion, experiment with different ideas, and ultimately become a stronger designer.
It’s not that hard to start a side project—find something you are interested in doing, and commit. The possibilities are endless. Speaking of design, you can:
- Write and publish a book on a topic you love
- Volunteer your design skills to a non-profit
- Start teaching design
You might wonder how this resolution works with the intention of finding a better work-life balance, but it’s simple—you don’t need to find extra hours in your schedule to work on a side project; instead, you can dedicate 20 percent of your existing creative time to it.
10. Be more analog and less digital
We all know that we spend too much time staring at screens. Let’s change it in 2019 by stepping away from the screen and spending more time in the real world.
- Enjoy the offline moments. Feel the joy of missing out. Leave your phone behind when going for a walk.
- Avoid turning only to digital sources for inspiration. Instagram and Pinterest are excellent sources for inspiration, but they are not the only sources. You can get even more interesting ideas by going to art exhibitions or photo galleries.
- Design in a less digital way. Don’t be afraid to pick up a pencil and draw a paper sketch.
11. Improve your drawing skills
Drawing is a fundamental skill for designers. Having solid drawing skills makes it much easier to express your design ideas. Not surprisingly, many designers dream to either learn or improve their drawing skills. Why not do it in 2019? Try to pick up a pen more often in the coming year.
To make this goal measurable, you can set yourself a drawing challenge for the next year—for example, drawing something once a week.
12. Learn to say ‘no’
Designers often get into the trap of saying ‘yes' to any design opportunity. As a result, they often take on projects that aren't necessarily the right fit for their strengths or personal preferences. Try to be pickier in 2019 and select only the opportunities that push your design career forward. Try to do more of what you really love.
What are your design goals for 2019?
All the resolutions that were covered above can give you a fresh start in the coming year. But ultimately the best resolution to make in 2019 is to try and be a better version of yourself. These ideas are just some of the ways you can get started.
Have a wonderful New Year!
What plans do you have for self-improvement in 2019? Share them in the comments below!